The Coming Leopard Letdown
John Gruber has branched out from his usually excellent blog, Daring Fireball and has started writing for Macworld. I say good for him (yes, I’m a little jealous, I always thought my words would be good there!). Although I hope the contract doesn’t include doing nothing but heaping praise on Apple. That would be unfortunate. Here at Apple Matters we always try to balance being fans of Apple but also remaining critical. Sure this means we recently got cut off from Media badge access, but in the long term I think its the best thing for Apple. If Apple’s greatest fans don’t tell Apple what they are doing wrong then who will?
Which lead me to John’s Recent column, The new frontier Mac OS X is a mature technology; the iPhone is anything but. John’s basic thesis is that the iPhone is the new frontier for innovation for Apple and not OS X. If this is true this is a damn shame, and instead of just observing it John should criticize it, instead he says,
...OS X 10.4 is so fundamentally good that future upgrades are likely to be on the scale of small refinements.
And the simple truth is that OS X doesn’t need an interface revolution.
This is just pure fanboyism at its best.
Look, I love OS X. And I’m with John that when it first came out it was awful, and that Tiger is currently an excellent operating system. But I don’t just expect refinements from Apple (and I certainly don’t expect to part with $129 for it) I expect innovation. And John’s metaphor of tying it to the car industry is equally egregious. Even car manufactures, every few years or so, completely refresh their designs. Is John saying that OS X is forever going to have minor adjustments and that is ok?
It great that Apple is focussing a lot of innovation energy on the iPhone. I love the iPhone, heck, I even called it perfect! (I guess there is a bit of a fanboy in me too). But to do that at the expense of the operating system would be a shame. I have used the beta of Leopard extensively (and legally I might add) and for the most part it falls within the refinement area. It is faster, smoother, and the OS details are more consistent. It has spaces (which is nothing new), a horribly-rendered title bar image-thingy (which makes me think someone hired a UI designer from Redmond) and some other stuff I can’t remember right now. But what it doesn’t offer is anything really new, and this is a shame.
Perhaps Apple ought to divide up its OS stream in two. One focussing on what John calls the refinements, and the other focussing on innovation. All I know is that if all we can expect from Apple right now is John’s visions of refinements for OS X the company, in the long-term, will be in trouble.