Leopard Preview Gives Clue to Top Secret New Feature

by Chris Howard Aug 09, 2006

Apple showed us some of the new features in Leopard but also provided clues to what the “Top Secret” feature might be.

It’s interesting what a different perspective you get reading an Apple keynote compared to watching one. You pick up things others haven’t noted and some things are much more impressive, while others make you wonder what the fuss is about.

After perusing the internet about the WWDC06 keynote, I started this piece and called it “No Big Bang in Leopard Yet.” But after watching the keynote, I’d have to say there are some significant and impressive things showing up already. Including a big clue to an upcoming feature.

If the good stuff is yet to come—“Top Secret” as Steve called it—then prepare to be blown away when all of Leopard is revealed. Especially you, Vista.

Here’s a few of the things that impressed me:

Voice Over
Of all the things Apple showed us, this one was the most amazing. I confess, after Steve demonstrated it and the audience whooped and hollered, I was about to clap too.

An excellent mix of extraordinary eye candy, and potentially really useful features. To be able to show photos, videos and Keynotes through iChat, should be a big winner with businesses all over the world.

And the Background feature? Total eye candy, but wow! For people who like eye candy, the Background feature will sell a few Macs. Imagine seeing that demoed in your local Apple store with a video of say a beach scene for the background…
Customer: “Who’s the guy at the beach?”
Salesperson: “That’s Fred. But he’s not at the beach, he’s over there.”
Fred waves from across the room. Customer’s jaw gets carpet burn.

System wide To Dos
A great idea. It’s a whole new way of managing your work and files. I expect there are a few more secrets up Steve’s sleeve with this one.

iCal goes multi-user
Finally Apple is lifting calendaring up a notch. With the new multi-user iCal and it’s group calendaring, combined with iWork 07 and enhanced Mail, many small business will find no need at all for Microsoft Office.

Add to this list improvments, Parental Controls enhancments, Spotlight enhancements, and Dashcode and WebClip, there is a lot to look forward to in Leopard.

But not everything Steve and Scott Forstall (VP of Platform Experience) showed got me excited. Here’s a couple:

Time Machine
One of the keys to a successful backup is not storing the backup in the same room or building as the original system. With the exponential growth of backed up data, Time Machine looks like it will require a hefty external hard drive, and with files constantly changing, it will always need to be connected. So Time Machine only becomes useful for rollbacks as Scott demonstrated.

Time Machine is going to be extremely useful for one-off file or folder restores, but as a replacement for a proper backup regime? You’re going to get burnt if you rely on Time Machine only. Defintely keep using SuperDuper (or whatever your backup preference) for removable media backups.

This one is for the geeks. It is good implementation but hardly too inspiring. VirtueDesktops can do all this in one form or another except for the drag and drop of apps between desktops. It’s nice that it’s included in Leopard but hardly revolutionary or as Steve described it “a big one”.

The only way the average user will use Spaces is if it gets some intelligence built-in. For instance, apps of the same type launch on a specified desktop. Or if it remember which desktop you last had the apps on. Or if you can designate which space an app launches in.

I’m impressed.

Leopard is probably on par at this stage with Tiger as far as bang-for-buck, maybe a little ahead. And that will only get better. This OS X will be definitely be worth the upgrade price.

One more thing… Core Animation
Oh yeah, did I forget to mention what I think the big secret of Leopard is? I believe it’s to do with Core Animation. By the time you read this, I probably won’t be the only one suggesting it, but I think this really is the real big one.

Steve called some other features “the big one”, but he was probably just trying to keeping a lid on the truth. Core Animation is going to totally change the interface, and Time Machine was a sampler. For a long time people have been hoping to see a “3D” interface on computers and some concepts do exist - even Vista has something. But when you see Time Machine in action you can see OS X kicking those other guys back into the second dimension. (Note: I say “3D” because it is only a simulation of a 3D look. Until we get 3D monitors, it’s really just fancy 2D.)

Imagine, for instance, a file viewer that would let you flick through your files like you would flick through a book. You saw a hint of that already in Time Machine. And with Core Animation, even if Apple don’t do it, any third party developer could. Or Imagine flicking through your photos in iPhoto; your albums in iTunes; your DVD collection in Delicious Monster.

And that’s just one way of implementing Core Animation. Imagine what Apple will do with it when it meets Finder.

As Apple are giving away Leopard now so developers can starting building apps for it, that strongly indicates no more significant under-the-hood changes are slated. But it also mean Apple has a lot more time for overhauling of the interface. Finder had no apparent changes; it didn’t get a mention at all. For example, don’t you think if Apple was going to implement a tabbed Finder, Steve would have showed it?

But he didn’t because Core Animation will meet Finder. That will be the revolution in Leopard. My money says a 3D Finder and other 3D interfaces are what Apple is trying to keep “Top Secret”.


  • Geez, I hope not.  I wouldn’t get ANY work done.

    destructo had this to say on Aug 09, 2006 Posts: 11
  • JUst Curious..

    Is there any Possiblity that Leopard will not run in G5 processor??

    Is gonna be a big dissapointment for me if that happen since i bought my iMac G5 1 month before the Intel Dual Core out.

    S-E-P-T-A had this to say on Aug 09, 2006 Posts: 14
  • SEPTA: leopard will definitely be universal, for PowerPC and Intel Macs. There are literally millions of PowerPC Macs out there, and there’s no way Apple would lose the chance to sell us an upgrade! I have my doubts that the G3 will be supported though: neither iLife ‘06 nor iWork ‘06 support the G3, so my bet is that Leopard will support the G4, the G5, the Core Solo and the Core Duo.

    eiscir had this to say on Aug 09, 2006 Posts: 23
  • SEPTA: Apple confirms that Leopard is a universal OS on it’s page.

    nigham had this to say on Aug 09, 2006 Posts: 10
  • Yeah, Tiger WILL support G5’s, but based on Apple’s track record, it will probably be the last major release to fully support PowerPCs. 

    Intel is Apple’s Mac future and they will invest most of their efforts in OS development in that direction.  It is in the company’s interest to drive future sales through hardware upgrades.

    pixel had this to say on Aug 09, 2006 Posts: 2
  • Interestingly, until about 1hr before publication of this piece, I had said Leopard would run on G3 coz Apple said so on the 64bit page. But they pulled it (so I did too).

    I’d be surprised if Leopard didn’t run on a G4, although a few features wouldn’t. And I reckon the G5 will be fully suported unless there’s some Intel chip specific features.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 09, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • Officially, in Apple’s service and support, they will support Macs up to 5 years old. But, each new version of the OS seems to be able to extend even further than those 5 years, albeit usually with some feature/effects limitations.

    But, I must admit, each Mac OS update has made my older Mac even faster and more reliable; the exact opposite of MS Windows’ behaviour.

    Aryugaetu had this to say on Aug 09, 2006 Posts: 10
  • All this apple stuff is fine and dandy but none if it is really new. Especially this Core Animation thing. guess what, Vista’s capability is not only better, but easier to program. 

    don’t take my word for it look at the video’s for the following microsoft beta products. 


    pay special attention to the videos for Designer.


    Karl Oscar Weber had this to say on Aug 09, 2006 Posts: 18
  • Karl, Expression is not a part of Vista. It’s not a “Vista capability”. It’s a suite of programs you have to buy and that, if anything, competes with Adobe software.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 10, 2006 Posts: 1209
  • What good is trading corporate talking points back and forth, whether it’s Apple or Microsoft?  The MS-bot is not impressed with Apple.  The Mac-bot is not impressed with links from Microsoft (a foregone conclusion before the mouse button was ever even pressed, no doubt).  Color me shocked and awed at that turn of events.

    Chris, I think it would have been more interesting (to me, anyway) had you stuck with your initial impression.  The gilded veneer of these things is supposed to wear off, not on.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 10, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • ok ok ok ok ok…  Expression is not part of windows and it competes with adobe.  but 1) designer is built to allow you to make awesome UI for Vista 2) in those videos you will see what vista is capable of.

    But I would also like to raise another issue.  Why does Apple get to “BUNDLE” software with their OS?


    Karl Oscar Weber had this to say on Aug 10, 2006 Posts: 18
  • MS can bundle software with their OS too. They just shouldn’t make it an integral part of the OS like IE is. As well, PC makers like Dell, HP & Sony add tons of their own software to their computers. Apple isn’t unique in this regard.

    dleboubon had this to say on Aug 10, 2006 Posts: 17
  • Why does Apple get to “BUNDLE” software with their OS? -Karl


    They just shouldn’t make it an integral part of the OS like IE is. -dle

    In a word, do not force-feed your customers to use your “integrated” applications. All of Apple’s “bundled” apps can be easily uncoupled by the drag-to-the-trash can gesture. Can you do the same with IE or Windows Media?

    I use M$ Office v2004 on my Macs and I prefer it to Apple’s iWork suite. Why, because I prefer their UI integration over iWork/Pages/Keynote. Besides, I respect and adore M$ MBU that they’ve been a Mac supporter since Excel debuted with the original Mac 128k.

    Good point, DLE. Karl, if you are with M$ make this point heard around the Redmond campus because it is the only way to keep the feds quiet, OK?

    As for Vista 2.0…Well, what can I say that M$ may not even get there 10 years down the road. Ten years is an eternity in the computer world, after all.

    Robomac had this to say on Aug 10, 2006 Posts: 846
  • IE isn’t an integral part of the system. I don’t NEED to use IE. OPERA, FIREFOX, FLOCK.  I could use these. But hmm…. how am i going to get these if I can’t even surf the internet to get them.

    What I see is that Apple is bundling too much peripheral software with their operating system. Honestly they pretty much had to because the macs market share used to be so low that noone wanted to develop software for it.  Still… you see the overall strategies that each company is adopting.

    They don’t need to make all the software that runs on their machine to give it functionality because they work heavily with developers to get things taken care of. (don’t give me beef on apple and their developers I know they love them.)

    They manage their hardware, the OS, the Primary programs REGULAR people use, and they integrate it as part of the system. yes it’s integrated.  msn messenger and ichat are just about equally integrated as IE and Safari.

    MY beef is that Apple’s primary focus seems to be improoving the bundled software, instead of focusing on the Core operating system. Claiming that it is superior to microsofts, then adding “revolutionary” features that have been used in other operating systems for almost a decade.

    Spaces, just a fancier way of doing just what is already being done in linux.

    Time Machine, Windows had this feature back in 2003.

    Mail, now it does HTML…. I thought apple said their mail program was more secure becaue it didn’t use HTML… switcheroo.

    Core Animation, yes it is way easy. but how deep does it go? not as deep as Windows presentation foundation, hence the links to the expression designer which allows you to use the foundation to it’s fullest quickly.


    Before you start flaming me actually look at the videos for designer, you seem some rather compelling glimpses at what vista will be capable of graphically.  I was impressed. I thought vista was just going to be prettier and a little more secure, but then i saw these video’s and i’m like: “holy crap… why hasn’t anyone seen this?”

    Whatever this secret stuff is, it better be good.

    bottom line.

    Leopard should be a lot cheaper.

    Vista should bring windows up to speed with OSX.


    Karl Oscar Weber had this to say on Aug 10, 2006 Posts: 18
  • Why does Apple get to “BUNDLE” software with their OS?

    Microsoft has 95% of the market, so they have to walk a very fine line between adding features and putting third-party developers out of business.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Aug 10, 2006 Posts: 2220
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