Apple moves to unify its OS and interface
Cleaner look-and-feel, more powerful mobiles
Two recent reports indicate developments in Apple's efforts to transform itself from a second-tier computer company into a top-level consumer-electronics powerhouse.
First, a story published today by AppleInsider reports that Apple "has filed for a trademark for its OS X operating system but without the 'Mac' prefix that has accompanied the name since its inception."
Second, multiple postings on MacNN, MacRumors, The Graphic Mac, and others discuss the rumored overhaul of Mac OS X's Aqua user interface (UI), code-named "Marble," when version 10.6, Snow Leopard, is released this year.
Regarding the trademark report, our search in the US Patent & Trademark Office's database shows that the "OS X" trademark filing was made back on November 12, 2008. No matter. Its implications, taken with the rumored Snow Leopard UI upgrade, are further proof that Apple is seeking to homogenize its product line, both in name and look-and-feel.
The "Marble" UI, it is rumored, would move the appearance of Mac OS X's UI - make that OS X's UI - more in the direction of the darker, sleeker interface elements found in Apple's professional applications, perhaps even further than what the company uses in its consumer applications such as iTunes.
Minor changes in this direction have been made in recent years. Witness, for example, the subtle move from a blue to a shaded-charcoal Apple-menu icon in Leopard, and the white-on-black button lettering in parts of iTunes. Apple's consumer-level creativity suite, iLife, has included white-on-black dialogs for some years.
It's time for OS X's Finder interface to reflect the more mature design of many of Apple's applications. And it's time for all of its applications - from utilities such as Activity Monitor to pro apps such as Final Cut Studio - to look like they are from the same company.
The shortening to "OS X" unifies a split that was emphasized at Apple's 2008 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), when the company decorated the conference hall with dueling banners - one touting OS X Leopard and one promoting OS X iPhone.
The distinction was important at that time - even though OS X iPhone is, at its core, as OS X-y as OS X Leopard - because Apple wanted to lure developers into working with the iPhone software development kit (SDK) it flogged at WWDC.
It worked - there are now more than 10,000 iPhone applications in the iTunes App Store.
Now, however, it's equally important for Apple to unify its branding around one OS X: the one that will appear as Snow Leopard.
According to all reports, Snow Leopard will be radically tighter than OS X Leopard, thus allowing more of its functionality to be squeezed into the tiny confines of the iPhone, iPod touch, or any other mobile device that Apple chooses to introduce.
Snow Leopard will also incorporate OpenCL, which will enable the offloading of CPU tasks to increasingly powerful mobile GPUs, such as Imagination Technologies' PowerVR SGX543, which we discussed earlier this week.
The frosty feline will also include the new QuickTime X, which Apple describes as "a streamlined, next-generation platform that advances modern media and Internet standards." The key word in that description is "streamlined."
To be sure, the OS X that will run on Macs will enable powers not available on the OS X that runs on mobile consumer devices. But the distinction will narrow.
Apple's mobile devices will become more capable, and the look-and-feel among all Apple devices and applications will become more unified.
At least that's what the future looks like from this vantage point. Apple, as is their policy, won't comment on future products.
Oh, and to all of you who believe that the name change to "OS X" is a harbinger of Apple offering its operating system for use on non-Apple PCs, we have have two simple words:
Dream on. ®
Snowballs in Hell
You won't see Mac OS X running on generic machines officially anytime soon - like never! Apple makes its money from the HARDWARE (and before you whine "it's expensive" just check out any PC with the same build quality). Therefore to license the OS like Microsoft (a SOFTWARE company that does not make PC's) did with MS-DOS/Windows and lose the margins they make on the HARDWARE would be utterly, utterly crazy. It ain't gonna happen!
With Snow Leopard Apple is seriously re-writing the main part of the software to run faster and more efficiently on the hardware platforms it's been selling for three years now, and that should be criticised why?. Apple has had both the guts and the skill to transition the Mac three times, with the 68000 to PPC change in the early 90's, the major hand-over from OS9 to OS X in the early noughties through to the Intel chip introduction in 2006. Each time they have done it relatively smoothly, so that users have been able to plan things properly. Windows users (and Microsoft) can only look on in total envy at this situation.
Okay, I'll acknowledge that a smaller user base with a controlled list of hardware specifications makes that dramatically easier than the job Microsoft has had to do with the hardware variations it has to deal with, but who put Microsoft in that position – Answer = Microsoft. If they had controlled the OS software specification and license so that hardware was designed to work with the drivers supplied or specified by MS, rather than the total cluster-fuck of letting Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all write whatever they wanted to, a very large amount of time, and Gazillions of green could have been saved over the years. Large salty tears appear when you think how much that money could have done for much more deserving causes in this world.
As I’m on, the computer security industry is almost completely the bastard love-child of Microsoft. If MS (a slowly advancing, disabilitating disease in other words) had taken security seriously from the word go, especially with sorting out the brain-dead ability of Macros being able to control the eMail client, then the whole generation of early virus-writers would have had a much harder time writing and spreading their variations. Move on a couple of computer generations and those bored teenagers in attics have morphed into the highly sophisticated criminals that constitute a far bigger threat to us individually than Ozzie Bin Laden or even fascist Labour governments can pretend to.
Microsoft has held back real advances over the years with their virtual monopoly. Okay, having three or four major OS’s with equal shares fighting it out for the last twenty-five years may not have been pretty at times, but I’ll bet you anything we’d be in a better situation than now if we’d gone that route.
MS weren't done for bundling apps along with the OS, nor were they were done for bundling apps *into* the OS. They were done for bundling apps into the OS in such a way that meant their competition was at a massive disadvantage, so MS's monopoly was extended and solidified.
Apple bundle apps *with* the OS, but you can replace every single one of them with something else if you want to and your OS is not broken because of it. In other words, Apple do not have a monopoly on what you use on your computer the same way that MS did (and still do to this day to an extent).
Quote: "MS do it, (with windows 7) and its a big deal and everyone hates em. Apple do it and its fine :P"
That's because OS X as it is now is largely fine - some annoying bugs and UI issues, but otherwise very good, so it is polishing brass to make it shine. Everyone hates MS for doing it because they ended up with a dog turd in Vista and Windows 7 is going to be a paid upgrade to varnish that turd.
Fwiw, Apple did go through the same process as MS are now experiencing with Vista, only it happened with OS X from version 10.0 to 10.2. However, they did it a much less painful way than MS did by keeping systems dual-booting (and also partly because OS 9 was seriously outdated by the time 10.2 came along and, even though 10.2 wasn't the best to use, it was still leaps and bounds better than the previous generation and XP).
>Yet more evidence that Apple (and IMHO MS) does not produce better tech under the >hood with new releases. It just polishes the shiny eye candy.
So optimising the OS for speed and size, adding new APIs like GrandCentral (multicore API) and the new graphics libraries OpenCL is just a GUI tweak?
I don't see that Microsoft made multicore programming any easier in Vista.
@Anonymous Coward 15:37
MS do it, (with windows 7) and its a big deal and everyone hates em. Apple do it and its fine :P
Yes but Apple never released a turd of an OS and then tried to give it a good polish, did they
"I liked Aqua, it was so lickable"
Not to mention that iPhones kinda look like candy bars.