Sorry, Children, Leopard’s Top Secret Features Aren’t Real

by Chris Howard Oct 17, 2007

Yay, woohoo, Leopard has finally been announced! Two and a half years after the release of Tiger, that’s an almost Microsoft-esque timeframe by Apple’s standards. You’d expect Leopard to be something special, and, with 300 plus improvements, it must be. However, since Steve’s announcement 14 months ago of “top secret” new features, nothing has materialized to fit that billing. And it’s reasonable that the fans are feeling a little bit let down.

At WWDC 2006, on giving the first preview of Leopard, Steve Jobs promised there were still new features to be revealed that were “top secret.” The allusion was that revealing them would allow the mortal enemy, Microsoft, to copy them (at the last minute) into Vista, which was a few months from release.

In Steve’s own words, courtesy of Engadget, he said from the WWDC 2006 stage, “Today we want to give you a preview of Leopard. First I want to tell you there are some top secret features that we’re keeping close to the chest.”

A quick scour of the new features pages for Leopard reveals nothing significant above what was first shown way back in August 2006. Finder upgrade, Quick Look, Time Machine, Mail 3, iChat 4, Spaces, Safari 3, Parental Controls upgrade, and Boot Camp: these get top billing on the new features page. But if you’re feeling a bit of déjà vu, it’s because you saw all this at WWDC 2006.

Ironically, OS X’s own dictionary describes déjà vu as “tedious familiarity.” Who hasn’t felt a bit that way as Apple has continued to trumpet the same old new features?

At the same time, who isn’t feeling at least the smallest bit used? Patronized? Taken for granted? It’s rather easy to feel Steve has treated us like children, telling us there’s a tooth fairy when there isn’t, telling us whatever suits Apple without respect for its customers. By the way, if there are any children reading this, yes, of course the tooth fairy is real, and yes of course there are significant secret features in Leopard. Someone will find them. One day. Promise.

Some fans had held out hope until yesterday that Apple would deliver the promised top secret features. Sadly, I guess we just can’t believe what Steve tells us anymore.

Many commentators are suggesting Apple is becoming more Microsoft-like. The arguments center around Apple’s apparent growing disregard for its own customers. This “top secret” saga adds weight to their arguments. You get the impression Apple thinks it can tell us whatever it likes because we’re gullible, naive, and forgiving. It really smacks of Apple disrespecting its fans.

As for Leopard itself, although tempted to rush out and join the early adopters, I think this time I will wait a few weeks, probably until 10.5.1 comes out. That’s not to say Apple has any sort of track record like Microsoft’s disasters with first versions of operating systems. Rather, it says more about me being happy with Tiger and seeing no compelling features in Leopard to make me salivate and want to upgrade immediately. Maybe those missing top secret features would have made Leopard a compelling upgrade.

* Image courtesy of Engadget


  • I agree for the most part, except when you talk about being satisfied with Tiger.  I remember in these very pages in april of 2005 reading the same thing about Panther vs. Tiger and that the author didn’t saw, at the time, the need to upgrade.  I am wondering now if that author still uses Panther? I doubt it.

    I think the same can apply to Leopard, it’s an upgrade every Mac user will use, but necessarilly need wink

    As for the top secret features, I totally agree.  A let down….

    J-F had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 9
  • Did you read the article? He didn’t say he wasn’t going to upgrade. He said he would wait a couple of weeks. Your comparison is only valid in your head.

    rakes had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Hey guys. I thought Leopard was announced to be feature complete at WWDC2007.

    I think you have to admit that the whole sandboxed quicklook architecture is pretty cool.  I hope it works well in practice because I think it has the potential to really change how people experience finding and sharing files.

    And for some wild speculation:

    With the initial schedules (before the iPhone delay) I suspect they were originally planning to release iLife/iWork ‘08 as Leopard only releases.  However, when the delay happened they worked at back-porting pieces of Core Animation so they could release on Tiger.  The silver lining of the leopard delay was that Tiger became slightly more capable than it would have been otherwise.

    Still the, the big difference is that on Leopard the APIs are available to 3rd party devs.  I don’t know how “Top Secret” this is but it is going to make a difference in terms of the quality of Native apps available.  There will be a real reason to make a native port of your app to Mac OS X because it will just look awesome.

    Ray Fix had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 21
  • I know how about buying Leopard and using it and seeing if it is not the best version of Mac OS X to date. I have had chance to play with a recent build and I have to say it is refined, quick and has many subtle and welcome improvements that make it a joy to use. Big splashy “features” tend to be like Spaces, something most people wont even use. The Mac has always been about ease of us and an intuitive environment to work (or play) in. Leopard has brought that principle to a new high level.

    kfbeau had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 2
  • There is not much as far as game changer’s. No time travel or teleporting but the true benefits of some of these lesser know features will not be
    seen until a couple months from now. I can tell you from playing with the beta’s that this OS is as snappy and responsive as the good ol’ classic versions like 9.2.2.

    OS-X had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 1
  • I’ve been using leopard since last summer (ADC Select Developer) on my firewire hard drive. It has grown in leaps and bounds since then. I think the biggest thing that would be classified as TOP SECRET (but come on, this is blatantly obvious) is the new Finder and UI. Microsoft trying to copy stuff from Leopard to Vista? Thats impossible due to Vista’s release schedule. There’s a lot of stuff under the hood, but I cant reveal any of it due to the NDA i signed. Youll see it on the developer pages when leopard finally goes live.

    I’m not going to upgrade until MacPorts is compatible with Leopard. I’m a web developer and a lot of under the hood stuff I need just wont work with MacPorts at the moment.

    Still, the finder is a LOT faster! Youll like it a lot. Quicklook rocks too. I also like the mandatory unified interface.

    sjgman9 had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Some interesting (to me) “Top Secret” features

    Library Randomization
    Wide Area Bonjour
    Share any user sub-folder

    Victor Panlilio had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 11
  • Perhaps the “Top Secrets” were Leopard on iPhone and iPod Touch.  That’s pretty secret in my book…

    jcgavula had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 4
  • Article premature?

    Benji had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 927
  • By the way regular posters, I [url=“”]
    hate to say I <a href=“”>told you so[/url].

    Benji had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 927
  • By the way regular posters, I hate to say I told you so.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 927
  • I curse applematters’s neolithic posting system, I curse it and its progeny forever.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 927
  • what pisses me off is the time machine/airdisk thing. they advertised “use you airdiskk to back up flawlessly from any mac in the house using time machine”. it’s now gone, the airdisk feature is a p.o.s. and work intermittently at best. if apple keeps up moves like this, they are nothing but another microsoft.

    tallrob had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 1
  • You know, you’re just being a grump and you’re cookin’ the books. Apple’s list of 300+ new Leopard features, large and small, obviously includes many that were not previously identified on its website preview earlier this year or identified at any Apple conference. (Rumors/blabs from developers who got Leopard betas do not count.) so these features were in fact “secret” until now. your beef really is that none of these “secret” features are major breakthroughs like Boot Camp and Time Machine. Ok, that is true. but Apple didn’t promise that. so stop being such a whiner.

    Alfiejr had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 18
  • Not bad, it took until the fifteenth comment for someone to stick up for Apple.

    Whining, grumpy, whatever, it doesn’t change the facts that Apple deliberately misled everyone.

    I agree there’s many lesser known new features in Leopard that will please many people; however, given SJ’s touting of “top secret” features, you would seriously expect those “top secret” features to be major headlines when revealed. And the majority of fans over the last 14 months seemed to have shared that expectation.

    As I said, many people were still hopeful that on Leopards final release, Apple would announce (to big fanfare) these amazing new features that were so significant they had to be kept not just secret, but top secret.

    There’s always the possibility, of course, there were top secret features that never eventuated. But if that’s the case we need to back off on Microsoft for the significant advancements they had to leave out of Vista.

    And MacGlee might be right too.

    And, Benji, well done. smile

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 17, 2007 Posts: 1209
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