We forgot about OS X 10.6!

by Chris Howard Jun 04, 2008

Macrumors last week had an item that references to Mac OS X 10.6 appear in the iPhone SDK beta 6.

You've got to chuckle, don't you. It seems in all the hype of iPhone 2.0, and a possible new handlheld computing device, we'd all forgotten why World Wide Developer's Conference (WWDC) is normally so hotly anticipated. Most WWDCs of the last few years have had Steve getting us salivating about the next iteration of OS X.

But this year, in all the hype, we'd forgotten to speculate about what to expect in OS X 10.6 and what Steve might show at WWDC.

Leopard, admittedly, has been a damn fine OS and hasn't left me pining for more. Certainly some enhancements would be appreciated, but I'm not yearning for the next OS X.

Leopard hit the ground in October 2007, so, given the longer development cycle now OS X has matured, it could easily be October 2009 before we see 10.7. We got our first glimpse of Leopard at WWDC 2006, so (even allowing for Leopard being delayed by Apple co-developing OS X for the iPhone) it's still quite possible Apple could show us a little of 10.6's new features at WWDC 2008.

And what might there be? Well, I don't know about the rest of Mac-land, but here's a few I'd like.

Parental controls
Parental controls took one step back and two steps forward in Leopard. Some of the kinks have been ironed out in the dot upgrades, but parental controls still have room for improvement. In my house, I still use the brilliant MacMinder for finer control, such as time limits on individual applications. Unfortunately, the developer of MacMinder has given up in the face of competition from Leopard - albeit inferior. Hello, Apple? Can I recommend you go buy the MacMinder code?

Time Machine
Time Machine is great but it's greatly limited too. SuperDuper! is still an essential part of my backup routine. And it - or an equivalent - should be a part of yours too until Time Machine gets up to speed.

Time Machine is great for covering your butt and good for rebuilding your system. But it's not a replacement for a proper backup regime using a product such as SuperDuper!. I run TimeMachine as my first line of defence, but use SuperDuper! for my archived and offsite backups, multiple backups and (really useful and never likely in Time Machine) cloning.

In it's current form, Time Machine can't do multiple backups. You get one set of backup parameters and that's it. What I'd like is for Time MAchine to support multiple backups, so for instance, you might have your normal backups hourly, but once a day backup just your data to a different destination. (You can never have too many backups!)

I do this now using SuperDuper!. I backup my iPod data, my photos and my Mac's user data to separate backups. And, being disk images, any of these can be easily archived or transferred to and accessed pn other computers. I also use SuperDuper! to make a daily clone of my entire system drive. So if I ever have (another) hard drive crash, I can boot up from my clone and be operative straight away. Time Machine can't do that for you.

I also want Time Machine to be able to backup iPods. On the one hand I can understand why Apple hasn't included this functionality, i,.e. because the iPod isn't always there and a lot of the data is already on your hard drive. But if you're using your iPod for file storage, it'd be nice if Time Machine could back it up.

Multi-touch is an interesting one. As Apple has already developed the multi-touch functionality into OS X via the iPhone and iPod touch, it is a relatively simple matter of enabling it on the desktop version OS X. The only thing really holding it back is the hardware to take advantage of it. Consequently, OS X currently only supports limited multi-touch and that's with it's MacBook touchpads. But 10.6 could see that broaden.

Multi-touch is the future, a future that at this time seems distant. Microsoft has shown it will include multi-touch in Windows 7 - whatever decade that comes out; however, Apple, being ready to go, can get a huge jump on Microsoft.

As Robert Scoble recently said, though, after seeing Window 7. who wants multi-touch on a computer? Sure it's useful for a phone, but a computer? Apple, however, has a habit of making things popular. Released alongside a tablet Mac, multi-touch on OS X 10.6 could finally usher us into the age of tablet computing.

Apple loves productivity eye-candy. In Panther it was Exposé, in Tiger it was Dashboard, and in Leopard it was Spaces and Quick Look What will it be in 10.6?. Personally I've always wanted screen partitioning. Thus you could use one large screen and partition it so it functioned like dual screens. Probably just lacks in the eye-candy department.

Will 10.6 it be called lion? I hope not. I hope Apple is more creative than that.

So, it's over to you now, readers. What do you want to see in the next version of OS X? And hopefully we just might get a very early sneak peak at in the WWDC keynote.


  • Great piece, Chris. Personally I’m really really hoping for multi-touch. I’d also like Apple to keep focussed on keeping the operating system as fast as possible. Leopard is a quantum leap ahead of Tiger, but it would be great to see continued improvements.

    Hadley Stern had this to say on Jun 04, 2008 Posts: 114
  • According to Arstechnica, 10.6 is code named Snow Leopard and will exist solely as an evolutionary upgrade—it is Leopard, optimised to within an inch of its life for Intel Macs only. There will be no major new features, it’s all about speed and stability.


    evilcat had this to say on Jun 04, 2008 Posts: 66
  • Thanks, evilcat. Interesting. I can see the value of Apple doing that and it basically makes sense, but I just can’t imagine Apple releasing a major dot upgrade with zero new major features.

    If that rumor is even half true, then you’d seriously expect 10.6 to get a showing next week.

    What a WWDC! iPhone 2.0, iPhone Down Under, a rumored new handheld device, and 10.6 revealed (maybe).

    I can hardly wait. smile

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jun 04, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • I just can’t imagine Apple releasing a major dot upgrade with zero new major features.

    In Leopard, they somehow turned 5 or 6 new features into “300 eye-popping new features!!”  So I don’t see why they can’t claim that zero new features is actually “295 eye-popping new features!!”

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jun 05, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • lmao

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jun 05, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • Perhaps it will be a freebie, like 10.1 was for users of 10.0? That way it could have very little in the way of new features.

    evilcat had this to say on Jun 05, 2008 Posts: 66
  • ZFS is something I’d like to see explored and available…

    To look at one small part - my understanding is that when modifying any files it actually leaves the previous version alone and records a new version. This provides automatic time-machine like backups on the same disk.

    But more than that - any file saved can save to 2 places simultaneously. Instant raid backup… but it can also queue over a network to save a duplicate of the file system. A queued backup over the internet… ie: save locally and back up simultaneously…

    Of course… this is my memory of my flawed understanding from when I looked this up a year back… would be great to improve some of the underlying expectations we have of a computer system.

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Jun 05, 2008 Posts: 228
  • I’m gradually getting sold on the whole touch-screen thing for general computer use.  Mostly from Microsoft Surface.  Imagine OS X on a computer that sat in front of you like Surface but could be adjusted to a more traditional setup as well.  iPhoto, iTunes, and a bunch of other applications would become a whole ballgame.  I’m not entirely convinced, but I could see how this could be the new interface paradigm we’ve been waiting for.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jun 05, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • <i>In Leopard, they somehow turned 5 or 6 new features into “300 eye-popping new features!!” So I don’t see why they can’t claim that zero new features is actually “295 eye-popping new features!!” -Bebox<i>


    I can see you paid attention at Mr. Walburton’s class - that zero is indeed a number. wink

    As for OSX 10.6. If indeed a marginal 10.5.11 improvement then calling it 10.6 would be ridiculous, ain’t it? There will be major features in there for Apple to trunk the development entirely from 10.5 code.

    I do agree that Leopard was monumental for OSX’s development that it will be very hard for Apple to top it off. Multitouch is great but not surprising either. I expect that to become an option, instead of the rule, for notebooks.

    I can’t imagine a desktop scenario where I am fiddling with the screen instead of typing on the keyboard and gesturing with the mouse. It is a neat idea but will take some time to get accepted as the norm, let alone a complete replacement for the keyboard and mouse standard.

    Robomac had this to say on Jun 05, 2008 Posts: 846
  • Is OS X !0.6 going to be for PCs???

    With the Mac branding not on OS X posters at WWWDC and with the rumor 10.6 will have no new major major features, speculation is flying that 10.6 will be available for PCs.

    Turn your speculators up to 11!

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jun 06, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • Hey, Chris, that would really be a watershed for OSX and the Mac.

    For the first time, the Mac would no longer be confined on Apple-only machines. I favor the expansion of the Mac brand outside Apple but Apple must do this discreetly and not just throw the gates wide open.

    I’m all for it. It would only enhance our Mac experience by having more developers - especially the EA droids - to provide apps and games for the Mac.

    Again, Apple would be wise to control the hardware reference kits for its licensees.

    Robomac had this to say on Jun 07, 2008 Posts: 846
  • yep, agreed, robo. A limited number of authorised vendors - eg Dell and HP - would be my preferred choice. That’d limit the hardware configs and so the incompatibilities.

    Of course, it would open the flood gates of unauthorised clones, but that’s what you get when you try to expand your base and you’ve gotta accept that.

    I’ve always believed expanding OS X’s marketshare thru third party vendors like Dell and HP would be good for Apple’s bottom line and long term future of the Mac.

    Personally, I’m with the speculators. Dropping the Mac branding from OS X is quite significant given Apple last year boosting the Mac branding by calling all it’s personal computers Macs.

    So to go in the face of that, changing Mac OS X to OS X Leopard, really does make you think it’s an OS for other machines too.

    Of course, maybe Apple has a fourth leg, another non-Mac product, coming out, so is now just really going to call the lot OS X, since it’ll run on iPhones, iPods, Macs, and a possible new device..

    Can’t wait til Tuesday! (Down Under time)

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jun 07, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • As much as I would love for it to be true that OS X will be available for third-party PCs, I just don’t see it happening.  If anything, Jobs has been locking up everything tighter, not the other way around.  The rumor I heard was the 10.6 would be Intel-only, no PPC version at all.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jun 07, 2008 Posts: 2220
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