What If There Are No Top Secret Features in Leopard?

by Chris Howard Mar 28, 2007

Apple says Leopard is still on schedule for a spring 2007 launch. But when you do the math, you see that as the number of days until the end of spring (even the U.S. spring) decreases, the likely impressiveness and significance of the “top secret features” also decreases.

Apple wants you to believe that whatever these features are, because they are top secret, they must be revolutionary. Vista has been in the hands of consumers for a couple of months now, so it’s not like Microsoft can do a last minute upgrade to it, copying Leopard’s amazing new top secret features. So it kinda makes you start to wonder about just how great these features really are and why it’s taking so long to reveal them.

There are two types of features Apple could have up its sleeve: those that need long beta testing and those that can get away with a very short beta testing. The latter is greatly limited, and would suggest merely cosmetic changes.

The hottest tip for secret features is a revamped user interface. But is that nothing more than a skin? ShapeShifter can already do that for you. Predictions are that glossy black and bright colors, such as seen on the iPhone, will spread across OS X.

But is that a feature? Sure, it looks good. I’m running Opera with its glossy black color scheme (lix 1.5) and it certainly makes the rest of my GUI look out of date. But a feature? That’s borderline.

Wouldn’t you expect something that is top secret to be a bit more than a new look? Something that revolutionized the way you use your computer, that would be worth calling “top secret.” Yet I haven’t heard of any suggestions since Leopard’s preview that even come close to needing to be kept top secret.

Apple is planning a launch of something at NAB on the 15th of April. This would also be a good time to reveal these top secret features and give beta testers enough time to test them out before a WWDC launch. Although, I’d be disappointed if Leopard slipped out to WWDC, as I think it will take the edge off WWDC. Developers need some time for shipping Leopard before WWDC, or at least as close as possible to it. Launching at WWDC would kill that off and there’d be no momentum going into WWDC.

Even a new user interface, though, would require a fair amount of beta testing, even if it is just a skin. There are plenty of ShapeShifter themes that still have problems. So again, Apple needs to reveal all soon if it wants to make a spring launch. You can imagine Apple staff will be working themselves into the ground. But Steve is fond of thanking their families for putting up with their long hours, so I guess that justifies it.

Could OS X go live without ever showing a new user interface? Never. But how late could they go without showing it? What other secret features could Apple release this late? What if there are no top secret features?

What if it was merely a marketing ploy to keep Leopard talked about favorably compared to Vista. Everyone has expected the top secret features will make Vista look so last year. It’s resulted in many reviews of Vista saying, “Vista is all well and good, but we’ll see how it compares when Leopard comes out.” If all the features of Leopard were already known, that comparison could already be made, which wouldn’t be good for Apple or Leopard, as the comparison would be based more on hearsay.

Instead, Apple has staved off those comparisons with its “top secret features” line. And yet, they may be nothing more than a glossy black user interface and a tabbed Finder. Hardly worth keeping secret.

Spring may have only just begun, but the way time is slipping away, there’s nothing Apple could add this late that could top Time Machine for being revolutionary (by Apple’s standards).

So, again, doing the math, it all adds up to…maybe no top secret features at all and nothing to get excited about.


  • Chris, German has a word for this: Angst wink

    It’s Apple, just wait & see.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 371
  • April 15th I beleive is a Final Cut release. And from the sounds of it this will REALLY be something worth noting.

    Leopard revolutionary features? Well from what we’ve already seen it’s a big jump. Some things I think we’ll know then is full 64bit OS support and the ZFS file system (FAR more effecient use of storage than HFS and allows Time Machine to work without a hitch). G5 and Core2Duo/Xeon machines will be the primary purpose of Leopard. I’m sure it will work on G3-4/CoreDuo machines but 64bit is the future and Apple isn’t afraid of going there.

    Aside from that June 15th/17th still sits in Spring and that’s when we’ll see Leopard debut. 15th is the debut of the phone. All corresponding with WWDC which is whome the new OS will be aimed squarly at, Developers. We’ll also see the entire Mac lineup change, slightly at least. Leopard will need 64bit CPU’s to run at full pace, Intel released the Socket P generation of the Core’s (April release actually) so we’ll see Mini’s/Books go up in speed and BookPro’s will get a new Xeon chip. 800fsb and DDR3 ram will also push the new hardware.

    You won’t see an OS release without the hardware this time around.

    A new GUI would be cool, and that would be a feature IMO but I think that’s just icing.

    xwiredtva had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 172
  • Yes, angst with a smidge of cyncial whining.

    ricksbrain had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 14
  • Probably that the biggest secret feature is Multi-touch screen input, just like the iPhone. So they will present new monitors that can do that at the same time they are going to release Leopard.

    btw: There was a patent accorded to Apple related to this a few months ago, and it was attributed to one of Logic main programmer, so again this must be a reason why Logic 8 was still not shown yet.

    Steve61 had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Ah who cares, this is like wondering what the weather will be like next month.  Leopard will come out, it will have its pros and cons, whatever.  Spend a little more time away from the computer my friend, this article is just so much hot air.  “Will it be this?”, “will it have that?”.  You have no idea so STFU.

    maxp had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 1
  • maxp:

    No YOU STFU!

    neven had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 14
  • There’s nothing to prevent Apple from having another set of beta testers who are assigned to test the secret features, especially if there are no significant dependencies between the features being tested by the two groups.

    Apple has enough employees worldwide to build an inhouse set of beta testers. They also have a good track record for keeping features secret. (Nearly everything but the bare existence of the iPhone was a surprise.)

    Don’t count on a rabbit out of the hat, but don’t be surprised by one, either.

    Hugmup had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 40
  • Does ZFS count as a secret feature? Apple never mentioned it, but there’s limited ZFS support in the last two developer seeds.

    Mike Cohen had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 2
  • It’s a step forward, it’s a feature. But it’s a feature used by another feature. Still it’s more effecient use of storage space than HFS+ and approx 21 lightyears ahead of NTFS. If you read the specifics on ZFS you’ll see it’e Pro’s. Especially in Server form this is a major plus.

    xwiredtva had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 172
  • First off, a new GUI could very well be a new way to use your computer. What if they choose to go with a 3d desktop, where you had to navigate through a 3d space? What if the new GUI is using Core Animation—that something Shapeshifer couldn’t do without Leopard.

    Second, I don’t think Leopard is coming in Spring. It really can’t. In June there will be some sort of conference thats all about Leopard. Does it make since to have that after the launch, when you barely even spoke about your new OS?

    No, just like Apple TV that was going to be launched in February—and according to Apple, it did—but we all know it secretly without Apple’s permission snuck into March. And, just like Leopard’s brother, Apple TV (which more then likely uses Leopard)—Leopard will ship later then June.

    Question is, how late?

    Unknown_Error had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 1
  • I think it is reasonable to expect that Leopard will ship late.  Steve has gone on record in the past that unlike the first 4 major revisions of OS X, which rolled out quickly, future revisions will take more time and will not be as frequent.

    It is likely to expect that Leopard will ship late based upon that logic alone.  I mean full 64 bit support, ZFS file system, etc, while not sexy to Joe Consumer, is nothing to sneeze at.  If they have secret “Sexy” features that know one has seen yet then it will be late.

    As for AppleTV (Unknown_Error), A) it runs on a stripped down version of 10.4.7 not Leopard, and B) was delayed due to video card software issues with the built in NVidia card.

    pixel had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 2
  • I don’t mind a later-than-June release of Leopard. To tell you the truth, OS releases are not that big a deal unless they offer features that end up being the mac-daddy of all software implementations. But given the long evolutionary cycle of Windows, OS X and Linux, it’s become clear that wowing people is not really a proper goal anymore. I wasn’t wowed by any of the Leopard features shown in the Keynote, but I was happy to see Time Machine and what it does. It’s not something I’d salivate over, but see benefits in it and would gladly pay $129 for this upgrade. All of this whiz-bang stuff is great for sales, but when it comes time to actually live with it, all of that stuff goes out the window and it must be usable above all other things. So far Tiger is both elegant and very usable to me. Leopard must provide more in the way of usability than the pretty colors and window effects.

    This is the problem I have with Vista. Much of the UI is resource sucking nonsense with a few improvements here and there over XP. Althought it would seem boring, I’d rather just have XP with a slightly revised theme and the search function. This is pretty small by comparison, but would make all the difference in the world for me.

    Kaiser Machead had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 10
  • I for one will be very dissapointed if these “top secret” features end up being purely cosmetic and I’ll be down right pissed if it was all just a marketing ploy. I hope that in about 2 weeks we get the NAB presentation and one other special event. I just believe steve would lay something that big on us and then not deliver. If they cant get those features ready, just delay the release a little longer. I’ll wait if its worth it.

    drumpat01 had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 2
  • Here’s a top secret feature. Every 10 minutes a 3D Steve Jobs walks into your desktop while you’re working and says “You do great work, and I’ll be your best friend”

    Kaiser Machead had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 10
  • Leopard will need 64bit CPU’s to run at full pace

    <i.Probably that the biggest secret feature is Multi-touch screen input, just like the iPhone.</i>

    I was happy to see Time Machine and what it does. It’s not something I’d salivate over, but see benefits in it and would gladly pay $129 for this upgrade.

    What’s funny to me is how much the Mac-bots whine and whine about how much you’ll have to upgrade your hardware to run Vista properly.

    But so far with Leopard, I now have to get a new computer, a new MONITOR, and a new hard drive for Time Machine.  And that’s just the stuff we know about!

    How much money is the upgrade ultimately going to cost us to really take advantage of Leopard?

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Mar 28, 2007 Posts: 2220
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