742 words on Mac OS X
All right – pretty much everybody seems to be underwhelmed by the WWDC Stevenote. No superfantastisch new secret features were unveiled there. But so what?
What really does disappoint me are the preview films you see on Apple’s web site (complete with custom QuickTime controllers which fail to show you the progress of the download). Not only do they claim everything shown is extra great (particularly the icons! revolutionary!), they also suggest that we are in for great tackiness in X.5. So far, when seeing Windows Vista screenshots with all their overdone transparency, I took a ‘been there, done that’ point of view and would state that OS X has grown out of such eye candy by now. But it looks like I may have been overly optimistic there and hard-to-read menus still have a future on the Mac (I predict a market for special desktop backgrounds that have a white bar at the top…).
And as deficient as the Dock currently is, will some wannabe 3D effect for its look really be an improvement? In particular, I wonder how that works for Docks on the sides of the screen (as I still think that with displays that offer excessive width but very little height, it’s quite silly to have the Dock steal quite a bit of that precious horizontal space). I can’t see that 3D look working to well in this situation and if Apple do their job well, they’d just force the user to have the Dock at the bottom. Which would suck badly. And those pop-open folders in the Dock remind me of a Jack in the Box (hence ResEdit) with the files jumping out there in some bendy line. Obviously I fail to see the point of that.
The film on the improved Finder leaves questions as well: Did they just throw iTunes window dressing into the Finder or has it actually been reworked enough to not be an amnesiac stalling mess anymore? That remains to be seen but my hopes aren’t too high. And how will your sidebar be populated with computers when you’re on a really big network? Reasonably I hope.
Then there is Safari for Windows. It looks like Apple are using all the money I give them to seriously get into the cold water business in hell. I fail to see the advantage of that. Even if – as people suggest – this may bring us new widget and iPhone widget developers (who cares? who’d need even more of them?). And while I do like Safari and use it every day, I can’t really see how this is great for Windows users either. It’s not that Firefox is a bad browser (it’s just a bit ugly) and we shouldn’t confuse those poor people unnecessarily. The only advantage I can see is that even Windows only ‘web developers’ will soon lack any excuse to not test for Safari. But realistically speaking I guess that if they didn’t care yesterday, they won’t care tomorrow…
On the Mac side, offering the improved Safari as a beta is a great idea (if only because some of Safari 3’s features are quite addictive – inline search, resizeable textareas, WebKit inspector and draggable tabs, I’m looking at you! Let’s just hope PithHelmet will be adapted soon.). Particularly as it leaves hope that there will even be a Safari 3 for people who decide they won’t need an X.5 upgrade (which for many people will be a reasonable decision as things are looking now). But did they really need to cram the thing in an installer for the betas. If the WebKit nightlies can be shipped containing their own current framework shouldn’t Apple be able to do the same? Particularly as that wouldn’t put people in the annoying Windows-style situation that extra callisthenics are required to have both Safari 2 and Safari 3 on the same system. (Yeah, I see that there’s new Dashboard stuff in the package but still…)
Finally, Apple’s web site. It’s still annoyingly wide and requires a lot of horizontal scrolling to be seen in full. But they finally got rid of these ancient looking tabs. Rejoice!
In short, let’s hope X.5 improves many things behind the scenes. What they are showing UI-wise looks like eye-candy. At best.
re: Safari for Windows, I concur with John Gruber, I think a large factor that contributes to this decision is a revenue stream from the default search engine. There’s probably some other advantages.
Maybe I shouldn’t say this, because I don’t have a Leopard beta, but one thing that gets me in the gut is the Finder. This new coverflow thing and using the iTunes browsing/management paradigm is a just a bad way to browse files. I don’t like the current interation for my music, and now it’s for everything else? I think those Finder engineers spend too much time managing and listening to their music, they needed some inspiration, and what do you know, “hey, this iTunes interface could work for the Finder! Genius! Think Different!”
I am looking forward to the “Stacks”, but I don’t like the fact it’s tied to the dock. I would prefer them littering the desktop. And I really want the Dock to die…
“Update: it seems that Apple’s brilliant testing didn’t even catch that Safari Windows fails to render many fonts on German machines. Which apparently very visibly affects numerous big sites.”
Maybe it hasn’t gone through all their usual “brilliant” testing, and maybe that’s why “Public Beta” is in big letters on the download page.
I hope you would agree that just trying out their software on a system that doesn’t happen to be in English isn’t too much to ask from a global corporation. They are releasing a beta (not a nightly build) world-wide and obviously haven’t even thought about non-English systems.
Apparently an Apple beta is not a Google beta — an Apple beta is actually a beta.