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Assorted Mac OS X 10.7 Hopes & Predictions

So Apple is holding a media event on October 20th and, judging by the invitation Engadget and BGR got, it’s going to be an event focused on MacBooks (October / November is the usual timeframe for new MacBook models to drop) and a new version of OS X, namely “10.7. Lion”. I mean, there’s a lion in there. It has to be a lion.

Tagline debates aside, I’ve been thinking about this a lot: Snow Leopard is state of the art desktop computing, how could Apple reinvent the wheel and introduce us to an even better, revolutionary (and yeah, maybe there’ll be a magical in there too) kind of desktop and portable computing?  Apple constantly iterates, yet sometimes they put a giant milestone in their timeline and they build the next 5 years around it. Look at Leopard: it set the foundation for the huge success of 10.5, and the evolution of 10.6. I think 10.7 will be another milestone, a new OS Apple will use as a foundation for years to come. 10.7 will set the bar really high once again, and it’ll mark the long-overdue definitive integration of the iOS ecosystem with OS X.

I’ve collected some hopes, predictions and expectations for October 20th event that have been floating around in my mind for quite a while now. See you on Wednesday, on the other side of modern computing.

App Store for OS X

There’s already an App Store for Mac, and it’s called the Internet. What I’m talking about here is not a new exclusive way to install software on OS X, but an inclusive platform to showcase application you would want to install on your Mac. Apple can’t turn the Mac into a closed system: it wouldn’t make sense. Apple often takes risks and Steve Jobs is a rather visionary leader, but they’re not stupid: they know what customers want, and OS X customers want a “regular” computer. Steve Jobs seems to agree.

I don’t think Apple will ever force us to pass through an OS X App Store to install apps. But a way to promote applications to people like my girlfriend and my father, who didn’t even know about the existence of Scrivener? Hell yeah. Think about it: a desktop-side, revamped version of Apple.com Downloads section.

New eye candy

Well, of course. A new and improved interface, with breakthrough design approaches and interactions. Mac OS X is beautiful and perfect as it is, but I believe Apple’s designers are always pushed to do better. Now we wait.

Finder revamp

Oh, Finder. Our beloved file manager that hasn’t gone under a major revamp in years. Do we need a better Finder? Personally, I’d need one that lets me navigate between files and folders faster. A tabbed one has become my favorite solution on the desktop. With a filesystem-free (or at least invisible to the end user) iOS some have argued that Apple might take a similar approach on the desktop and limit the options to a few selected destinations for files and new folders. I don’t see that happening. Desktop users want to tinker, need to tinker. If anything needs to be done, that’d be a faster, more reliable, easier to manage Finder.

More multitouch goodness

Again, this is pretty much a given. Steve Jobs loves multitouch and so do we. The next MacBooks will likely offer more surface for touch controls, and the next OS will provide more extended support for touch interactions in the Finder and applications. I’m looking forward to multitouch becoming the fastest way to get things done after the keyboard shortcuts era.

3D interface

This has been in the rumor mill for years, but I don’t know what to think. We’ve seen some kinds of 3D animations in OS X before (think of all that CoreAnimation goodness), but an entirely 3D-based UI? That would only make sense with a full touch interface. 3D needs manipulation and, by definition, manipulation happens with your hands. With 3D, your hands can’t be on the keyboard. So are we talking about fancy 3D animations here, or real 3D interfaces on the desktop? Your call.

iOS contamination: iBooks, FaceTime, Game Center

iOS is not coming to the desktop, but Apple is looking for a way to integrate the desktop with the iOS environment. That’s quite a difference. Expect FaceTime being integrated into iChat, a desktop version of iBooks (which would be just great on a new MacBook Air…) and the possibility to check on Game Center leaderboards and updates directly form your computer. Again, I’m just speculating here: what if Apple comes up with a system to “link” desktop apps to iOS counterparts? 1Password, for example, uses its own method to transfer and sync databases across the Mac and iOS. Wouldn’t it be awesome for developers to be able to easily let iOS and OS X communicate with an official framework?

11-inch MacBook Air, 3G data built-in

As for hardware, I don’t know what to expect from new MacBooks. I mean, are there gonna be MacBooks at all on Wednesday? What’s for sure is that a MacBook Air update is long overdue, and I would love, love, to put my hands on a 11-inch model with 3G data built. Or maybe just a regular 13-inch model with 3G, and an even thinner chassis. I don’t know how OS X would play on a small screen, but I’m looking forward to the new Air. And whatever Ive has come up with.

Steve Jobs

None of the expectations and predictions above matter in the end, as that damn Steve Jobs guy always finds a way to surprise us and piss people off with announcements (or lack thereof). So, I’m just going to impatiently wait for Wednesday and you should do the same: we’ll be here live, discussing whatever OS X will become.

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