What Mac OS X Snow Leopard Means for the Future of the iPhone
On Friday, Apple shipped Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, their latest computer operating system (which is jailbreaker safe!), and for the first time focus wasn't on fabulous new consumer-facing features, but on internal re-architecting, the (far too often quoted) refinements and enhancements.
Many of these advancements, as we've discussed before, were leveraged from work done for the iPhone version of OS X. QuickTime X, with its yellow trim bars and built-in sharing are an obvious example.
We've already seen Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard technology like Data Detectors cross-over to the iPhone, but with this newest, arguably greatest version of Mac OS X now on the market, what can we look forward too for the next generation(s) of iPhone OS X?
Better, faster, easier
The iPhone has already nailed the refined part, and no doubt Snow Leopard benefitted from the compression and other space-saving techniques. Likewise, the aforementioned Quicktime X (and we can't help but notice -- and crow a tad about -- some iPhone inspired UI elements to go with it), as well as the touch input of Chinese characters came from the iPhone. What can we get in return?
The more nimble-finder, while we'd LOVE a way to access the iPhone file-system, doesn't yet seem to be in Apple's roadmap. Stacks, however -- a way for a single dock icon to expand a fan or grid of enclosed apps -- have already made an appearance in the Jailbreak community and given the continuing growth of apps yet confined space of the iPhone screen, it seems a logical bit of technology for Apple to move over.
Next generation technologies
It's a bit early for 64-bit requiring RAM sizes on the iPhone (sigh), and iPhone security, with sandboxed apps and all, is fairly strong already. Likewise, Grand Central-style multi-core process packetization and dispatch may be a way off for our ARM internals (though who knows where Apple's new PA Semi system-on-chips will take us, right?). Open CL, however, a technology that allows GPU's to be used for general-computing, CPU-like tasks when they're not painting pixels or flinging polygons, is something we're definitely looking forward to. Not watching a moving or playing a game? Take that PowerVR chip and speed up everything else!
We're not going to keep going on about QuickTime X, since we already have the H.264, hardware acceleration, trimming, the sharing, and the HTTP live streaming on the iPhone, along with voice recording courtesy of Voice Memo. However, the ability to record video not only off the iPhone 3GS camera, but screen recording as well would be appreciated, especially by those of us who cover iPhones and iPhone apps...
Yeah, we got this with the iPhone 3GS back in June as well, and while it isn't the most widely covered of improvements, we applaud Apple for continuing to raise the bar, both for mobiles and for desktops.
Custom labels for poorly or unlabled screen elements would be a welcome update for the iPhone, however.
Okay, we got this first on the iPhone as well. We even have it better, as while the iPhone supports Exchange 2003, the Mac can only make do with Exchange 2007 or the the upcoming 2010. (We're not sure why, but we feel like blaming MAPI for something and this'll do).
We'd also like to see iPhone Spotlight beefed up to search inside apps that are developed to support the feature, and of course to remember recent searches. Also, syncing photos over from iPhoto, including the Faces and Places metadata, would be nifty to include in search criteria (so we see pictures of Steve Jobs if we search for him, for example.)
System-wide text substitutions, where (c) is replaced with © would be great.
iChat, of course, would be nice to see as a Apple-branded IM app!
Unlike Google or Microsoft, Apple using the same core for their desktop and mobile OS, means more band for their development buck, and more features for users. Win. Win. Since we're still installing and getting used to Snow Leopard, we may have missed some more examples what else we just might see in future iPhone OS. If you've come across any others drop us a comment and let us know!