I’m sure I’m not the first to say this…

but almost all of the new stuff in Leopard seems kinda, I dunno…pointless?

A reflective, 3D Dock? Graphics-ridden HTML mail? Funhouse effects for conversations in iChat AV? How on earth will any of these make my life easier, streamline my workflow, improve my experience? The jury’s out until I’ve actually had a chance to feel my way around, but I have a bad, bad feeling about this.

Adding insult to injury is that these new features are showcased on an equally new apple.com, the information architecture of which is a mess. Case in point: each of the above facets of the Leopard experience appears in a tour presented in stateless AJAX, so there’s no way I could link directly to them even if I wanted to. Or check the rather unbalanced slider here, which wants (and fails) to unite accessories, Macs, applications and servers under one heading.

While you’re there, see if you can’t figure out for me just what else is going on on the page. I think it’s admirable that Apple wants to maintain a simple, reasonably intuitive URL structure (“/mac,” “/itunes,” and so on), but it’s only been able to do so at the expense of stuffing each one of those accessibly-named pages to the bursting point. These pages are just plain busy: way too much for the eye to take in, for the mind to comprehend.

The result? Like I say: a mess. I sure hope this is just a transitional moment.

(The optimist’s interpretation is, of course, that Apple’s been so busy cramming the iPhone full of ultra-hyper-peta awesomeness that other projects have taken a back seat. Uh huh.)

10 responses to “I’m sure I’m not the first to say this…”

  1. mh says :

    Yikes? Am I allowed to say that?

    I was a lot more optimistic in that I viewed a lot of the features of the next OS, which I somewhat optimistically thought would be a lot more revolutionary and earn the OS 11 tag, but I remember being skeptical of eye candy such as the Dashboard which I’ve later grudgingly integrated into my productive workflow.

    The real meat, for me, would be a Finder that might actually be more functional, in that it’d get rid of the functional inconsistencies and weaknesses and (barring that coverflow nonsense I’m skeptical of) finally be on par with Windows’ Explorer. And I say that as a person who uses both platforms regularly and prefers the Mac.

    AJAX can be done with stateful links. There are good developers and IA specialists working on this, and the visual design has some instant appeal to me. Hopefully the URLs will follow. Maybe it’s that I’m used to viewing web page upon web page, but I’m glad that there are fairly dense pages that actually have things to digest, with media embedded that doesn’t live on its own ‘multimedia’ page.

    And now, after a nice glass of scotch and a viewing of the keynote in the background as I’ve typed, I might save some of this for my own writing…

  2. davidham says :

    I was wondering if anyone else thought so too. The new Mail is retarded; much better would have been, as Merlin Mann suggested once, _text_ templates of frequently-sent messages. And bolting TODOs and RSS into Mail seems inappropriate, to me anyway. TODO would have been better in iCal, where it belongs, and RSS of course belongs in NetNewsWire.

    Time Machine seems like a great way to fill up a hard drive real quick.

    In general, the new bits seem shiny shiny but not anything that will make the Mac easier to use, or that will make the Mac work harder for me. Why couldn’t they come up with cool stuff like Ethan Schoonover’s Kinkless Desktop (http://kinkless.com/article/kinkless_desktop) which is already making my machine more useful?

    I still love my Mac, but it seems like all the innovation in Mac software is happening outside Apple lately.

  3. Abe Burmeister says :

    Website wise yeah they hit my number one pet peeve of the moment, assuming that just because the average monitor size is going up the size of my browser window is increasing. 2007 in web design seems to be all about making me side scroll….

    Beyond that are we looking at the same feature lists? I see a whole lot of major stuff in there. One subtle one I just used? In Safari 3 you can resize text boxes in the browser, I just made this one bigger to fix in all the text. Very nice, subtle and intuitive.

    I’m already a virtual desktop user, but Spaces is both taking it mainstream and improving the interface to it significantly. Believe me virtual desktops are a big time interface improvement and they certainly made my life easier, streamlined my workflow, improved my experience already.

    I don’t have the same hands on preview experience with Time Machine, Stacks or Quick Look, but they all look pretty damn promising to me. Count me as being more excited about a new Apple interface than I’ve been in a long time…

  4. CM Harrington says :

    Your thoughts are similar to my own. Sure, animation has its place (it can show context, etc), but I have to ask, “Does all this whiz-bang stuff make me more productive?” To which, at the moment, I am not so sure.

    Coverflow for files? Meh. Basically, Apple decided that iTunes was good enough to be the replacement Finder. Again, not very productivity enhancing.

    iChat is both a “fun” tool for messaging, and also a good tool for conducting business. The added “funhouse” effects don’t bother me. However, the really great stuff is the ability to share and show files with your conference. Let’s face it, Netmeeting and WebEx blow goats. The only “good” realtime collaborative environment I’ve used is Macromedia Breeze (now called something totally different under Adobe’s reign), and that’s a bit of a pain, as it’s browser/flash based.

    Stacks will have scaling problems. If you have dozens of things in your folders, you’re going to have The Dock Problem all over again. Also, when you create a Stack from scratch, the first thing in the Stack becomes the Stack Name (and icon). This almost NEVER makes sense. You’ll notice this in the video demo on Apple’s site. If I take a bunch of applications, and the first happens to be Addressbook, it’s not a good convention to call it “The Addressbook Stack”.

    Oh, and about the iPhone, which I didn’t mention on my WWDC Localtype article… WTF is up with Apple saying “3rd party apps for iPhone are called websites”. Um, what if I don’t have access to the internet? What if I don’t want to trust my personal data to some random 3rd party site that may close up shop after a year? What happens if I don’t continually pay a fee to keep my data there? Telling developers *at a developers conference* to develop websites is more than a little insulting, eh?

    Don’t get me wrong, there is enough in the new OS to keep my interest, but there are a lot of “WTF” moments —too many to make me keep quiet.

  5. Abe Burmeister says :

    “WTF is up with Apple saying “3rd party apps for iPhone are called websites”. Um, what if I don’t have access to the internet? ”

    definitely a lot of unanswered questions here, but there are probably some clues in the that odd bit of the presentation where Jobs demoed the process of turning parts of webpages into dashboard widgets. Guessing that will allow these ajax apps to live locally in the iPhone as well. Where the data gets stored is a whole other question…

  6. CM Harrington says :

    @Abe,

    But with the widgets, there is no local storage of info, which is a huge barrier to what I’d consider “meaningful” development on the platform.

    But yes, there are a lot of unanswered questions —like why?? Is it purely because ATT doesn’t want a VOIP client? Is this a stop-gap measure until they can finalise a real SDK?

    Colour me under-whelmed.

  7. Abe Burmeister says :

    that’s precisely why I ended with: “Where the data gets stored is a whole other question…”

    On the iPhone side I’ve been underwhelmed since the get go. I’d say the hold up is more about a general desire to control the platform than the fear of anything as specific as a VOIP client. And I wouldn’t just blame AT&T, Apple is as guilty as anyone of trying to create locked in situations when possible.

    That said, between the widget maker, Safari for windows and the ajax for the iPhone initiative Apple is making a very interesting gamble on web apps on a scale that no one south of Google has really succeeded. It’s a strange maneuver for a company that in a large part owes it’s success to controlling an OS…

  8. Adam Simon says :

    The statelessness of the AJAX is on purpose, of course; they want to control how you link to their website by forcing you to link to the feature overview pages rather than the demo videos. It doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the wider layout, or that side-scrolling product menu, which is flashy and nonsensical.

    I agree that, on the surface, Leopard seems all about unnecessary flash, but nearly all of the changes (yes, even Cover Flow) are moving either toward keeping things tidy or making file sharing easier. That sidebar, along with rewritten code for remote connections, is going to finally make transferring files over a local network something my Mom can do. The important part of iChat isn’t the backgrounds, it’s the built-in screen sharing and data presentation. (Mail, however, is a clusterfuck. I won’t argue with anyone on that point.)

    Leopard is the network-friendly, tidy release, and there’s a lot that will be useful for developers (as always, the biggest changes are under the hood). There will be lots of Leopard-only apps, even by the end of the year, because it’s just going to be so much faster and easier for development.

    I think we all just wish there was a radically beautiful new UI, and not glass shelves that look almost Vista-like. Oh, and a real SDK for the iPhone; we all wish for that, too.

  9. speedbird says :

    The important part of iChat isn’t the backgrounds, it’s the built-in screen sharing and data presentation.

    This I agree with 100%. It’s the only thing that made me go oooh, and in the interest of fairness I probably should have called it out as such.

  10. Dannie says :

    I am bored with the iPhone already, and it has not yet even seen the stores!

    Do I – do you – want to have my OS look like a game? Will have to take it for a try and see. We might like it, and then, we may not.

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