With one more week left in the month of March, Apple has not had or announced their usual second quarter event. In the past few years Apple has consistently had a press conference of some sort, usually to announce new products and as of late give details about an upcoming OS X release. In January 2010 there was the event that launched the iPad. On March 2nd, 2011 there was an iPad 2 event (The developer preview of OS X Lion was released on February 24th). OS X Lion's successor, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) was officially announced on Apple's website on February 16, 2012 and the developer preview was released on March 14th, a week after their iPad 3 event.
Since Apple refreshed it's entire product line last fall (September 12th) it's doubtful they will hold an event before WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) unless it's to release an unannounced product. But what does that have to do with OS X 10.9 (Lynx?)? In the past two years they've released developer previews of their latest desktop/laptop operating system prior to any events anyway, then publicly going over the new features during WWDC in June. So if history and the current release patterns remain we should be seeing a developer preview of OS X 10.9 any day now. The past four releases of OS X have been on a tick-tock cycle, similar to iPhone releases. The "tick" may present a new design/look along with a host of new features. The "tock" is usually a refinement of those newly added features along with some new ones. They even embed the logic within the naming conventions. Leopard to Snow Leopard and Lion to Mountain Lion. If the pattern also holds true then this year should be a "tock" year that focuses on growth more so than polish.
There have been a couple of sites that have reported seeing computers that are running OS X 10.9 code so we do know it's out there, somewhere. But what will it bring or when will Apple let developers get there hands on it is anybodies guess. In the meantime lets take a look at what is hoped to be included in the new OS, rumored to be called, Lynx.
The two biggest rumored and somewhat obvious features coming to Macs are Siri and Apple Maps.
Both of these features almost seem like no-brainers at this point but would be welcomed additions to the desktop if added. With Apple Maps on the desktop, hopefully you'll be able to send directions directly to your iPhone. Siri could be a great addition to the platform as well but they'll have to expand on it's current feature set to make it truly useful. Hopefully they'll add some desktop specific tasks for Siri beyond opening and closing apps.
There has been very little information that has leaked about Lynx thus far but here are a few features I hope to be implemented or expanded upon:
AirDrop from Mac to iOS - You can already drag (compatible) files into iTunes and have it sync these items wirelessly to your device but the process is cumbersome and takes entirely too long. It would be nice if I could click on AirDrop and send it to any iOS device on my network like I can with my Macs. Granted without a traditional file system the type of file and where it's actually located could prove to be a roadblock but that leads me to my next feature…
iCloud Expansion - I'm hoping that iCloud gets put on steroids and not only work better in general but provide more features, more flexibility and get Apple to compete a little with Dropbox and Google Drive. As of now iCloud works in silos. Only an app that creates iCloud files can access those specific files. If one of my photo apps saves an image to iCloud I can't access that image from another app (unless i'm using Photostream) If Apple made it so specified file types (JPEG, MOV, MP4, MP3, DOC etc.) were granted universal access to apps that had support for them while providing a locker of sorts to keep them in, it would not only make iCloud incredibly more powerful but open up iOS to allow apps to share certain information. Of course with changing iOS's file management system it would also require an iOS update which they probably wouldn't mention till the fall.
iMessage Expansion - The initial premise of iMessage was that instead of using traditional text messages to send SMS, iOS and Mac users can send messages directly to each other over data, bypassing the carriers services. This is also the case for FaceTime calls. The video calls are all over data and doesn't use any of your phone minutes. So obviously the next step would be to allow direct VOIP (Voice Over IP) calls, sans video for any iOS and Mac device. I should be able to place a call from my iMac to any iPhone, iPad or Mac computer running the appropriate software. Of course this would piss off the carriers and probably ruin some business relationships so I'm not holding my breath for this coming anytime soon. I do believe one day Apple will pull the trigger, its not a matter of if but when. I'm sure the big wigs at Apple have already had discussions with the telecom execs about it in some form and may just be dangling it as a carrot above their heads for leverage.
Multiple Monitor Full-Screen Support - As of right now you can run dual-screen as an extended desktop or have it mirror with the main screen is doing. However if you are running an app in full screen mode the second screen displays the grey linen texture and cannot be used. I know dual-monitor users are a small amount compared to all users but it's a big deal to those who use it.
Notifications - I'd like to see the newly added Notifications feature refined. I hardly use it and usually it's more of a hinderance than helpful. Allow me be able to choose where the pop-ups are displayed and maybe some more granularity on what's coming in. Also I would like to be able to turn my iMessages on in Notification even if the app is closed.
App Facelift - Mail, Notepad, and Contacts all could use a redesign. Badly. The cutesy Notepad and Contact apps are awful and are the definition of "form over function".
App Store Unification - For God's sake Apple can you please help out the Mac App store and integrate it with the iOS App store? I'm sure the Mac App store gets a 1/10th of the traffic the iOS App store and would probably help if more people knew it existed. Maybe this would encourage more developers to create true universal apps that work with the desktop/laptop, iPhones, iPads and iCloud. You could even start by releasing a new iWork that does just that.
If we don't see something before WWDC in June this update could be more profound than anyone is expecting. Perhaps the recent move of Jony Ive to head of hardware and software could be having an impact sooner than we think. What features do you think should come to OS X?