Illuminous: Does OS X Need a New Aqua?

by Chris Howard Dec 13, 2006

Not long now ‘til everyone’s favorite time of the year: MacWorld! (Although, I must say, hoping a Wii makes an appearance at that other favorite time is pretty exciting too.) At MacWorld San Francisco 2007 in January, we’ll finally get to see what will almost be production ready Leopard and, ooh, aah… its secret features.

One rumor that has been growing like a snowball rolling down Everest is that Aqua is to be replaced. A new name - Illuminous - has been rumored as well.

It would be quite surprising if Leopard doesn’t get a visual overall. Apple need’s to keep OS X not only functioning, but looking a generation (or more) ahead of Windows.

It’d be interesting to know how differently Microsoft would develop Windows if Apple was a serious competitor. Would we see annual upgrades? Would Microsoft have made sure Longhorn with all its spiffitity made it to market?

However, in our lifetime so far, Apple is not a threat to Microsoft, but an inspiration. And to some extent a cheap R&D department. So it costs Microsoft a few percentage points of market-share to have Apple around. How much does that save Microsoft in R&D though?

But I digress. Windows Vista is out and apparently loaded up with a fair whack of eye-candy and other spiffitity, albeit, not as much as Longforgottenhorn promised. And in about three or four weeks, Microsoft R&D, Cupertino unitApple will reveal to the world what the next - or maybe one after the one after - version of Windows will look like.

That snowballing rumor suggests black is the new white. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found dark GUIs to be hard work (having tried a few on various skinable apps). But I’m sure Steve can tweak our reality so grey text on a black background will look just fine. I searched the internet for some mockup imagery to help get the RDF warmed up, but to no avail. You’ll just have to use you imagination. What a crappy rumor. What good’s a rumor without decent fuzzy pictures taken surreptitiously in an elevator in France? Seeing is disbelieving.

Considering statements like this on MacShrine “Apple continues to gloss over the interface, refining it even more and there is an overly presence of black gloss” you’d hope to see some evidence, but no, with a deft dummy and sidestep, MacShrine suggests it’s sick of the Apple’s legal heavies in black (glossy?) suits knocking on its door.

So I turned Google up to 11 and discovered Appleology’s not afraid of the bad Apple and have posted a few snippets. Well, maybe a little afraid, because the images it’s posted are hardly illuminating, as of the five images, four are from FrontRow, iPhoto, iTunes and Aperture, and only one is from Leopard.

A new look for OS X would be cool, but hardly anything to get excited about - or keep secret. After all, each iteration of OS X has had changes to the look of OS X.

However, looks aren’t everything.

It’s the feel that needs changing if Apple wants to stay ahead of Microsoft. Apple needs to introduce some new interface elements and methods that will turn heads. And I for one, fully expect it will.`

So now, for those who aren’t religious, Christmas and all it’s consumerism beckons, but the religious among us look forward to MWSF, when our illuminous leader will shine a little light on the darkened corners of OS X.

What do you think Apple will introduce and what would you like to see? Or is the Tiger GUI as good as it gets?


  • Is Tiger as good as it gets?  I hope not.  It’s a great interface, but the overall bubbly roundness is getting a little long in the tooth.

    Frankly, the new “black” look sounds like…well…Vista.  I’ve been using it a lot more lately (AE, Photoshop, and Flash run like molasses in OS X) and I’ve been very pleased so far.  The interface itself is very slick.  I’m still trying to migrate to OS X as my primary system, but it’s great to know that a nice version of Windows is there when I need it.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Dec 13, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • I think they need to tackle more fundamental things than just the look of the interface.

    My experience is that OS-X is less stable under Tiger, and has some annoyances.  Interface/Finder inconsistencies have been covered enough by Ars Technica.  A small example of the kind of thing that annoys me is that if the spotlight field is active,  the dock becomes inactive (remains hidden).

    So I’m all for a new improved look as long as usability is improved and inconsistencies addressed.

    Hywel had this to say on Dec 13, 2006 Posts: 51
  • “Glossy” can be such a wonderfully vague term when discussing user interface.  But if Apple *reeeeally* wants to go for “glossy” and excessive visual effects, I have an effect that will put the genie effect to shame.

    Make the window frames “reflectively” glossy.  I don’t mean that they reflect other windows or UI items… I mean they reflect YOU and whatever’s behind you.  Now that all the machines have iSights in them, make the user really feel the realness by providing some real chrome.

    booga had this to say on Dec 13, 2006 Posts: 19
  • booga- Genius

    Finder! Finder! Finder!

    Benji had this to say on Dec 13, 2006 Posts: 927
  • They should simply buy out Path Finder to replace Finder.  That one step alone would be a drastic much-needed improvement.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Dec 13, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Brilliant idea, booga!!

    Chris Howard had this to say on Dec 13, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • Overhaul, not overall.  Tsk.

    mungler had this to say on Dec 18, 2006 Posts: 16
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