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 I’m running Opera with its glossy black color scheme (lix 1.5) and it certainly makes the rest of my GUI look out of date.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.


  • As one who uses BC, I believe it refers to both the partitioning software AND the driver disk.  But like you, I fail to see how it will be “built-in” to the OS as others have suggested. 

    I could see building in virtualization, which clearly is not the case with Leopard, but how do build in a dual boot to Windows?  About all I can see them doing is simply including the BC application with the Leopard release.

    As for Vista compatibility, the current BC drivers mostly work, but I could never get the iSight to run which supposedly works in XP, and I had to download the Vista version of the ATI drivers.  There are other minor issues as well, but it mostly works and is definitely usable.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Mar 29, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • “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.”

    Thou protesteth too much. =/

    I don’t suppose I’ll need to upgrade much at all since I already have 2GB of RAM on my laptop and a 500GB external FW drive handy. I may purchase Vista Basic just cuz it’s replacing XP altogether and I want my mac to be cross platform so I can use whatever software I want. Plus, it looks purdy =D

    Kaiser Machead had this to say on Mar 30, 2007 Posts: 10
  • “But so far with Leopard, I now have to get a new computer, a new MONITOR, and a new hard drive for Time Machine. “

    What?  Are you high? Where does it say you have to get a new monitor or new computer to run Time Machine?

    You should provide some credible sources for your wild ravings. While Time Machine uses Core Animation for its visual effects, I haven’t seen anywhere that it REQUIRES a Core Animation capable video card. I’d be willing to bet large sums of cash that Time Machine has a low-eye-candy mode for older video cards, just as the current Finder will still run on older video card, just without all the animation eye-candy.

    If you can cite a single reference on the Internet that Time Machine REQUIRES a high-end video card, I’ll believe you, but until you do, you’re just full of b-o-l-o-g-n-a as usual.

    PS—Hey, guess what music store will be selling high quality DRM-free music tracks?  Are you ready to eat all your previous BS about that being “the last thing Steve Jobs wants”.  Vendor lock-in, my ass.

    vb_baysider had this to say on Apr 02, 2007 Posts: 243
  • Well, I’m disappointed I was right on this. :( I guess Steve was being tongue-in-cheek.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jun 23, 2007 Posts: 1209
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