On Monday evening at 6pm (UK time, 10am West Coast time), Apple’s Tim Cook will take to the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to unveil the next versions of both the Mac’s OS X and the iDevice’s iOS. It’s time for the annual World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) keynote speech.
For the first time in quite a few years, rumour has it that OS X (Apple dropped the Mac from the OS’s name) will garner much of the attention. It’s widely expected that the OS X 10.10, the eleventh version of Apple’s UNIX based operating system will receive the biggest change to its look since it first came out in 2001. This is likely to involve a flatter look and feel as the design influences that were revealed at last year’s WWDC start to permeate iOS’s older sibling.
Perhaps more so than the change to iOS, the update to OS X’s look (if it happens) is going to be a more difficult one to convince the masses about. Certainly, if you look at OS X over the years it’s not been without significant changes. However, these changes have come gradually – almost so as we haven’t noticed. If you compare the Aqua interface in OS X 10.0 with the one we see in OS X 10.9 Mavericks then the difference is huge!
For the pedantic amongst us, I put Cheetah in brackets because the naming convention was internal at the time and didn’t find its way to the public domain until Mac OS X 10.3 Panther.
Going full circle
One of the biggest changes to OS X was the dock’s move from the flat look to a pseudo 3D appearance in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. I hated this to start of with and used a console hack to keep it looking like it’s flatter predecessor. It was a good few years before I decided to go with the flow and accept the 3D look. Ironically, on my MacBook Pro laptop I have the dock positioned on the left hand side and this uses a flatter appearance. I think this may hint at how the dock may look in OS X 10.10 when it’s unveiled tomorrow. Going full circle?
It’s all in the name
I found a thread on MacRumors.com about the new version of OS X quite amusing. Page after page spoke about the both the numbering of the next version of the OS and also the name. Everyone on there seemed to have forgotten that an OS is nothing without features. Ah well.
The name looks as if it might be OS X 10.10 Yosemite (as in the gun totting cartoon character who himself is named after a US National Park – which is really the influence for the name if, indeed that turns out to be what it is). Banners in the Moscone Center seem to suggest that this may be the name Apple go for this time continuing the California based names started with last year’s Mavericks.
At the very least it’s a geography lesson for those of us elsewhere in the world. Not a particularly welcome one, but it may be useful at a quiz night some time.
So what about those features?
Apart from a flatter look (which I suspect may not be as drastic as some are suggesting it might be) I actually hope that there aren’t that many new features. I’ll explain. When Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard came out, it wasn’t the most stable Mac OS that had ever been launched, When Apple moved from a universal PowerPC/Intel OS to Intel only in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard they introduced no new features and instead concentrated on improving the stability of the software. The result? Arguably the best OS Apple has ever produced. And people still happily paid for the upgrade.
I hope that this time, while some UI changes are almost inevitable, Apple put the breaks on and concentrate their efforts on honing the APIs and underlying components of the “world’s best operating system”. Let’s get back to the ethos that was “Snow Leopard”.
There is one thing I’d like to see introduced in OS X 10.10, though, and that’s the ability to AirDrop between iDevices and Macs. That would be very welcome and save me having to email things to myself (which is still easier than using DropBox, say).
This blog post will be out of date in about 29 hours when Tim Cook steps out on the stage for the keynote. Being a sad geek I’ll be watching the live stream and hoping for magic things. I love those keynotes! Can’t wait!!