Apple set to focus on "power users" with 10.9, but whither the regular folks?

WWDC will bring with it the first developer's looks at new versions of OS X and iOS; Apple VP Phil Schiller said so when the company announced WWDC's dates. According to Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac, OS X 10.9 will tout features geared toward "power users," among them better Spaces management for multi-monitor systems, tabbed browsing and more.

As a power user, I'm encouraged by the idea that Apple is dedicating time and resources to helping me get more out of the OS X user experience. That's a good start, but I hope Apple doesn't lose the forest through the trees. As intuitive as it is for many of us to use, OS X can still be daunting for new users, especially the new users assimilated by the "halo effect" of iOS devices they're already using.

Macs are supposed to "just work," but as the operating system has evolved so has the complexity of the Mac's interactions with the world around it. iCloud is still subject to random outages and problems - I spent hours last week trying to figure out why my wife's calendar and e-mail weren't synching, only to find after all that that my calendar had fallen out of sync as well. I've worked with users new to the platform that have absolutely no idea how to get their iPad to synchronize with their Mac.

iTunes is a horrible, bloated beast, and while its upgrade cycle isn't implictly tied to the operating system update schedule, that seems like a good time to deconstruct things a bit. iTunes has become this massive digital cloaca through which all information flows to iOS devices, and, oh yeah, it plays music and videos too. Maybe it's time for Apple to start breaking apart these features into separate applications, or just figuring out a less unwieldy way to let iTunes manage it all. And don't even get me started on iPhoto.

Jony Ive is responsible for the direction of Apple's Human Interface teams, and is apparently putting his stamp on iOS 7. I hope he's doing the same with OS X, because his minimalist sensibility is definitely needed in areas where OS X has become anything but minimal.

Source: 9to5Mac

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Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Apple set to focus on "power users" with 10.9, but whither the regular folks?


iPhoto is so complicated. I've only used it on the iPhone and iPad and i've stopped immediately. I'd love a Mac but my Vaio with 4gb ram and 320gb hard drive is still strong and kicking. What I'd really really love is if they could make iMessage work on desktops but that's a big wish.
In regards to the story, catering to power users has the recipe for making things more complicated with adding features/shortcuts etc that normal users will never learn/use.
However if its available people may use it, so might as well make enhancements available.

SN: the new iTunes column browser was a downgrade!

What constitutes a power user?
I use my computer for document creation, photo storage and editing, video storage and editing, image creation (photoshop), presentation creation, spreadsheet/statistical analysis, as well as the day to day surfing, email, reading, streaming,...
Do I qualify? I don't think I am a power user visa vie programming or blogging, are these people power users you are referring to? I think making a classification like "power user" has to be defined so that people following know if the changes coming down the pike are applicable to them or the user may feel abandoned by the change in focus/development. I am just being picky. Good post, I am liking your contributions to the site, keep it up!

Re: "Jony Ive is responsible for the direction of Apple's Human Interface teams, and is apparently putting his stamp on iOS 7. I hope he's doing the same with OS X, because his minimalist sensibility is definitely needed in areas where OS X has become anything but minimal."

Agree. But I think from here on out, iOS will lead the way and OS X will follow. At least in terms of OS "family resemblance." Not necessarily in terms of unification of features or functions.

And yes, I fully expect Apple to continue to patent their work in UI design.
And to continue to defend their patented work against all the copycats.

Glad that Apple is adding more "Power user" features to OSx. Better multi monitor support is at the top of my list. However Jony Ive seems to want to minimalize the OS I love. I just hope he's not going down the path of Windows 8. Colored tiles are in my nightmares. OSx is after all a Desktop environment right know. Sckeumorphism is still cool, within reason. Its what sets OSx apart from everything else. Look at an Apple computer screen and you would instantly know it's Apple. Apple should just be....Apple. By the way, I say put the optical drive back in and make it Blu-ray. My 3 monitor 27" iMac system would love it. (Just Saying)

Re: "OSx is after all a Desktop environment right know. "

Except when you use apps in full-screen mode.

Re: "By the way, I say put the optical drive back in and make it Blu-ray."

Don't hold your breath.
Never. Going. To. Happen.

I realize there will probably never be blu-ray in any mac...ever. But I do use an external, on my iMAC. With some third party software it works pretty awesome. I'm a realist, but, also an optimist. There are new people running Apple now. It can change. Regardless of what industry experts say, Blu-ray still has a long shelf life. Just look around at peoples libraries. DVD's and Blu-rays. PS3 is Blu-ray. The next Xbox will be Blu-ray. Blu-ray may not be in Apples plans, but, it isn't over yet. Not by a long shot. Sales may be down, but they are not going away. Bandwidth in the country is insanely expensive, and capped. Until that changes, optical media is here to stay for a while. Even Windows 8 still Plays Blu-ray natively with Windows Media Player. So maybe if I hold my breath long enough, Apple, will change its mind. I know Apple's iTunes is a big part of no Blu-ray. But, in my opinion Blu-ray would make an iMac much more attractive. Especially with a 27" iMac screen. Bet ya iMac sales would go up....

"Better Spaces management for multi-monitor systems" and "tabbed browsing" are not power user features.

There are numerous unsupported statements without any analysis in the article. The author is simply regurgitating common themes (that have been demonstrated as ridiculous when context is added).

"iCloud is still subject to random outages and problems;" while true, even the most advanced and expensive enterprise solutions have outages. We only need look to Google Apps Status Dashboard for a comparison. Google Apps appears to have as many issues as Apple iCloud despite Google Apps being an enterprise solution with the expectations associated with such a solution.

"iTunes is a horrible, bloated beast;" why and how does Apple solve the issue practically and reasonably? Should Apple split iTunes into nearly one dozen applications as on iOS devices? Do consumers want that? Do consumers really have major issues with iTunes and where is the survey to support such a claim?

"... don't even get me started on iPhoto;" don't even get me started on this statement.

@Peter: breaking iTunes wouldn't necessarily be something good. I actually like iTunes as it is. My iPhone is set to sync to iCloud using wifi while charging, so I never backup the phone on my Mac (I have a 13" rMBP with 128 GB SSD, so that'd mean a lot of junk pasted over and over on my drive).

I do hate iPhoto myself (mainly because it renames the photos and puts them wherever, so I'm never able to find them.) But iTunes is OK. Besides playing movies, I can AirPlay any movie from my laptop to my Apple TV. QuickTime can't do that. No other media player can do that. So, unless they make QuickTime AirPlay compatible - or open up the AirPlay protocol to other software, such as VLC Player or whatever -, I want iTunes just as it is.

When it comes to iTunes, what Apple should really work on is improving AirPlay, not tweaking a perfectly good software. For instance, I'd like to AirPlay a space on my Apple TV, so I can watch a movie on the secondary screen and do my work on the other. Or use both screens to work on. Hell, limitless. Some food for thought.

In Mountain Lion, there is Airplay mirroring which works with whatever is on the screen (including Quicktime). I use it to stream Showtime Anytime and HBO from my rMBP to the AppleTV. You just have to be on the same network and the Airplay icon appears in the menu bar. You can also select it in Display Preferences. So you don't need iTunes to do that.