Apple: Back to the Mac? October 20

Apple logo rotating through an aluminum slab, with "Back To The Mac" captioned underneath.

We’ve all been navigating the question “iPhone. iPad. Apple TV. When will Apple have any real Mac news?”

Aha. Well, I just got an invite to another Apple media event next Wednesday. This one is on the Apple campus, which would mark it as a smaller event than the recent ones in downtown SF.

What will they talk about? Well, you can see a lion peeking out from behind the logo there. Soo…


Or maybe we’ll get to see the next version of the OS. The fact that there’s a cat involved settles an issue that I’d been puzzling over for a few months. I wondered if Apple might sit out the next year or so and make the next release of Mac OS X a truly revolutionary 11.0. Sticking to the traditional feline theme suggests that we’ll see a 10.7 that simply builds upon Snow Leopard.

It’s hard to predict what the new OS will contain. FaceTime integration into iChat is a good guess. Overall, you should be looking for features that tie the whole product line together, such as AirPlay, and ways of integrating the Mac OS file system into mobile devices. Apple’s been building the Death Star for quite some time — aka that huge new data center in North Carolina — so honestly, any guess that would require massive storage and infrastructure seems possible.

I’ve always thought that Apple had all of the components necessary for truly device-independent computing. Today, I can start a column, head off to the coffeeshop with my iPad, finish my draft, and then give it a final read through and edit on my iPhone while I’m waiting for an oil change…all because I use a Dropbox folder for storage. Elevate that to the OS level and you have some idea of what I can imagine.

We’ll know for sure next week. I’ll be attending if I can find an underwriter for the trip.

55 thoughts on “Apple: Back to the Mac? October 20

  1. Scott Knauer

    This is perfect timing for my ego. I was just having a conversation with my 12 year old nephew who is a budding Apple lover. He asked what I thought the next Mac OS X would be called and I answered without a doubt: Lion. Mega uncle points for me.

    I wonder what the revolutionary features might include. Apple has an inspiring way of giving us something we never would have thought of, and all of a sudden it becomes a necessity to our workflows.

    PS – Tell Leo to delay MacBreak Weekly next week so you guys have something huge to talk about.

  2. Jason Baldwin

    If it’s a lion, I’d expect it to be 10.7, and it just now occurs to me that the cats have been getting larger with each major dot release. Unless they’re planning 10.8 Sabertooth, I’d say this is the end of the 10.x line.

    Honestly, I don’t know what they can do to improve the OS. Then again, that’s why I’m not a software developer.

  3. Joe

    If we’re all thinking that OS 11 will be the joining of iOS and OSX then how much of a step towards that goal do we think this will take?

  4. Chiefted

    iChat with FaceTime would be a good addition, though now wondering what additions will be made to the Server version.

  5. Scott Knauer

    I agree with Jason. The Lion is king and this will most likely be the end of Mac OS X, so I too predict this to be 10.7.

    Do you think we’ll see multitouch interface for desktops and notebooks as a key feature here, or will that sort of leap be in Mac OS 11? Exciting times…

  6. Ken

    I can see Apple showing off some features of 10.7, probably for release either at WWDC, but more likely around September of next year. The summer seems to be more of an iOS/mobile event these days. But I can see them introing new iLife and iWork at the event as well.

    For 10.7, I agree FaceTime in iChat. More optimizations for OpenCL. I’m wondering if the flipping Apple logo might be indicative of the swiveling, convertable iMacs that we’ve seen, maybe it’s a subtle hint at touch?

    Kinda makes me sad, but I agree that this is probably the end of the line for the 10.x series. I didn’t become an Apple fan until after the 10.4 post-Intel transition, but golly gee if I’m not enamored with the OS.

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  8. Chris Mackin

    I believe it’s osxi or os11. Back when Steve introed osx, he said it was to prepare them for the next decade. That was back in 2001. Also, there was never an improvement to the previous operating system like snow leopard was to leopard. I say OSXI with a revamped new ui and as people before me said, facetime capabilities.

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  10. Ihnatko Post author

    I don’t think there’ll be any news other than Mac OS. Apple might slip in a blurb or two in an offhand “Well, so long as you’re here” item but these Town Hall events tend to be pretty straightforward.

  11. Paul Scott

    I agree with FaceTime iChat, I would like to see better networking performance and tighter integration with Windows file systems for sharing. A revamp of Time Machine to improve security and fix a few bugs.

    My most wanted feature is an interactive virtual assistant like the Knowledge Navigator Commericals in the 80’s.

    If I can’t have that at least a brilliant way to easily manage my documents on my Mac, iPad, and iPhone that is better than iTunes and easier than the way we have done it for the last 20 years.

    Perhaps a new filesystem while they are at it. HFS+ is getting a big long in the tooth.

  12. Matt V

    My made up rumor: The logo is rotated because 10.7 will support 3D displays!

    Please repeat everywhere :)

  13. KenC

    Okay, what’s up with round rects in the upper corners and sharp corners in the bottom? That’s odd, very odd.

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  15. Michael A.

    Just thinking out loud, but here’s some stuff they could put in 10.7. First, the vague but fairly safe bets:

    * Expanded touch gesture or touch screen support
    * More Grand Central / OpenCL exploitation

    Miscellaneous possibilities:
    * Airplay push support
    * Airplay “server” (allow clients to send video/images)
    * Better SSD support (TRIM? Some say this isn’t needed; I don’t know.)
    * Sanctioned support for menu bar extras
    * Blu-ray support? At least for data discs, please.
    * New file system; Apple apparently abandoned ZFS but perhaps they have something similar in the works.
    * More pervasive IPv6 support? Not sure if it’s lacking in any way, I just haven’t used it and I’m aware that conversion will become much more necessary in the next few years and there are lots of new protocols related to it.

    And some crazy stuff:
    * Support for 3D or HDR video with dual webcams
    * Airplay + wireless webcam + iChat = Move my video chat to the big screen TV and us the webcam that’s on the TV.

  16. CPS

    “My most wanted feature is an interactive virtual assistant like the Knowledge Navigator Commericals in the 80?s.” – Vince

    That’s a good one. Apple acquired Siri, the AI/virtual assistant company back in April. I’d bet that’s not just going to be limited to the iPhone app.

  17. Pat Mahon

    “Okay, what’s up with round rects in the upper corners and sharp corners in the bottom? That’s odd, very odd” – John Blackburn

    John, it’s about as “odd” as every Finder window displayed on your Mac at the moment!

  18. Ian Stoba

    What the heck would you call version 11? Mac OS X 11 (ten eleven?) doesn’t make any sense. I don’t see them using OS XI either (OS Xi, maybe).

    Maybe just Mac OS 11. I can already imagine all the “this one goes to 11” jokes.

  19. mikemcdonnell

    U R right about the ancient Mac file system…

    ZFS is a 128-bit file system that Sun announced in 2004 but didn’t integrate with its Solaris operating system until 2006. Among ZFS’ selling points is huge capacity, storage pooling, fast data snapshots and copy-on-write. As a 128-bit file system, it can store 18 billion billion times more data than current 64-bit systems, such as NTFS, which is Microsoft Corp.’s file system for Windows. According to calculations on Wikipedia, it would take about 9,000 years to max out ZFS’ file limit if 1,000 files were created every second. Pooling eliminates partitions, and much of the hassle with storage, such as figuring which “volume” to stick files on, or how to manage a new external drive.

  20. Sunny Guy

    Yep. Time to bring back ZFS — the NetApp lawsuit has been settled.

    And yes, a $999 11.6″ Macbook Air, would be good.

    Netbook my *&^%. :-)

    Sunny Guy

  21. TOm G

    10.7 will be like 10.6 but with more stuff that makes sense. Some more IOS integration, but in a vague sort of way.

    The next version, the real next generation will be the lovechild between OSX and IOS.

  22. Les Posen

    No one’s mentioned the software that might go on these new Macs and new OS? Come one, how about iLife 11 and iWork 11 updates… the current versions are getting long in the (sabre)tooth.

  23. Peter Seid


    I’ll buy you dinner if you come to SF… I’m from Phoenix but I’m visiting some friends in the SF/San Jose that week. Funny that Apple scheduled an event for when I’m in SF but forgot to invite me…


  24. nik

    Give it to Apple marketing, this is one of the most stunning pictures ever to grace a marketing invite.

    If it wasn’t for the company logo this could go in a museum.

  25. Tony

    And in other news Microsoft release public beta of Zune for Mac and it works with iPhone too. Forces Apple to introduce subscriptions to iTunes.

  26. clr

    “Okay, what’s up with round rects in the upper corners and sharp corners in the bottom? That’s odd, very odd. – Ken C”

    The odd shape is the same as the Magic Trackpad.

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