What Could Make OS X 10.7 Great?

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With Apple’s release of operating systems slowing down considerably, some are left to wonder if OS X has any life left to it. Apple made no mention of the Mac platform at its WWDC keynote this year. Snow Leopard was considered a release aimed at polishing the experience with significant under-the-hood changes to set the stage for next-generation technologies, but what could be next? Here’s a look at some areas that would make 10.7 a significant upgrade.

Speech RecognitionSpeech Recognition

The Mac OS has had speech recognition built-in since the days of OS 9 and to be truthful, it’s never worked that great. But Apple has continued to make progress in this area with Voice Control on the iOS devices and its recent purchase of Siri. Could future Macs feature more natural and effective speech recognition?

Resolution IndependenceResolution Independence

OS X features limited support for resolution independence, but the operating system as a whole still doesn’t support this feature. If Mac displays will one day adopt densely packed pixels like the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, the operating system will need to support resolution independence.

A New FilesystemA New File System

Snow Leopard was rumored to originally include support for the ZFS file system, but due to licensing issues with Sun (developer of the file system), it didn’t make an appearance. Apple’s current implementation, HFS Plus, has been around since 1998 (the good ole days of OS 8.1). While it’s seen some improvements since then, an overhaul in this area could provide some major performance benefits to platform as well as better compatibility with other platforms.

Home Folder in the CloudHome Folder in the Cloud

With iDisk supporting a “home folder” like structure (Documents, Movies and Music folders to name a few) and local syncing, it can serve as a home folder in the cloud for most purposes. Without Terminal witchcraft, users are still left with a home folder on their iDisk and a home folder in their Users folder with no easy way to reconcile the two. Apple has always made a push for “a great experience” and what could be better than your whole home folder in the cloud, accessible from any Internet-enabled Mac? It’s almost like NetBoot on steroids but it would take a bit of foundational work first, for example, optimizing the file system. Could this be an extended use of the rumored North Carolina data center?

Front Row Take 2Front Row Take 2

Whatever Apple’s future plans for the Apple TV may be, Front Row on the Mac needs a substantial update. Built-in integration for Netflix, Hulu Desktop, renting and buying content and better methods to sort and organize content could really propel this feature back into prime time. Apple would love to sell more iOS devices, but it also realizes that many of its users love the better performance dedicated media center Macs provide.

These are just a few ideas of some things Apple could introduce in 10.7. What do you think could be around the corner? What would you like to see? What do you think Apple will codename it? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Report: Delivering Content in the Cloud

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