Possible Improvements For Snow Leopard

Friday, 20 March 2009

by Silumesii Maboshe

Snow Leopard is a re-focus release of Mac OS X. Instead of adding features, Apple is working on making the operating system smaller and faster. I am looking forward to it and hope the following things get a bit of attention too.

Bug Fixes

Fast User Switching With Screen Share

Boundaries give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. I live in Expose, Spaces and stepped that up to separating my different roles in to different user accounts. Fast User Switching makes this a relatively smooth way to switch context. Unfortunately, it does not seem to work with Screen Share.

Nice-To-Haves

System Preferences—User Account Templates

Setting up new user accounts is tedious since one has to log in to each account and make sure the preferences are exactly the way you want them. It would be nice to be able to be able to create standard templates and simply copy Finder, Safari, Screen Saver and Security preferences and so on from that.

Wider Data Synchronization

If users of the iPhone have Google Contacts synchronization in Address Book I fail to see why it is not available for everyone. The same goes for iCal. Google Calendar’s Calaboration utility is amazing but has the challenging side-effect of not supporting iCal to-do lists. After seeing the attention paid on Safari 4 (currently in beta), I’d really like to see iCal get some love.

Finder—More Control over the Speech Service

The Universal Access services in Leopard are phenomenal. I use VoiceOver to re-read my blog posts to see if they sound right. It would be powerful to have transport controls (play, pause, skip back, skip forward) for the service.

Finder—Application Launching—Quicksilver—Standard

Now that I use Quicksilver, the Dock seems a strange place to put inactive applications. Spotlight application launching is fast but Quicksilver is like lightning.

Software Update

Updating software should be as unobtrusive as possible. I remember a time when Apple used to boast that their software updates occurred without the need to restart the machine. This is no longer the case and that “feature” of Mac OS X is not something we talk about any more. However, it would be great if third-party applications could tie in to Software Update. It is tedious to separately have to update the operating system, and then Firefox and then every individual Fluid application and then …

Quicktime Pro—Standard

Quicktime Pro should come standard even if that means adding the extra $30 to the price of Mac OS X. It just should.

iTunes—Radio Improvements

Radio is one of my favourite features in iTunes. It would be fantastic if I could have some control over what radio channels I have on it and could add or remove channels at will. The Radio interface is lacking some attention as well seeing as how there are different views for Music, Movies and Podcasts but only the list view for Radio streams.

Textmate—Standard

I love Textmate! I am indifferent towards Leopard’s TextEdit. Why not trade TextEdit for Textmate?

Must-haves

UNIX and XCode—Package management—Standard

Every mature variant of UNIX has some kind of package management. The MacPorts project is doing a phenomenal job of bringing package management to the Mac. Having package management as a standard feature on Mac OS X would greatly simplify managing the Open Source tools Mac developers know and love. After-all the Mac is the killer development platform, right?

UNIX and XCode—Git—Standard

No software development project should go without version control. Not one. Having CVS and Subversion bundled with the Mac OS X taught me just how important versioning is. Unfortunately, their work-flow has some fundamental limitations. Chiefly, they have a central repository philosophy. Git shines in that it was designed from the ground up with collaboration in mind. It works with Subversion, embraces decentralised projects and is all around a beautiful tool to use. If Apple does nothing else but include Git with the Mac OS X Developer Tools, I’ll throw a party in honour of Bertrand Serlet!