Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard interface
2006 at 06.48 am posted by Veerle Pieters
It’s unbelievable how the rumors are flying again in the anticipation of Monday’s start of the WWDC. It’s that time again where everybody starts daydreaming about iPhones, Tablets, Home cinema appliances, some are new and most of them popup every time there is an event. I’m not focusing on making an educated guess in what’s coming hardware wise but like to think a little of possible interface changes in 10.5 Leopard. I have been wondering what direction Apple will take a few times already. I always postponed writing something about it but this post of Brent Simmons sparked my interest again.
First a little bit of history
I still remember standing in line in Paris to get the first Mac OS X public beta! So before going any further let’s see what changes Mac OS X has had over the years.
Mac OS X Public Beta
When this was launched it was a huge change from Mac 9 and to some it was too drastic. I never had that feeling and wanted to stay away from OS 9 as soon as possible. When you look now at it I’m amazed how overwhelming the stripes really are.
Mac OS X 10.0 - Cheetah
The most visible change here was that Apple dropped the button look in the finder and introduced some new icons along the way.
Mac OS X 10.1 - Puma
Mac OS X 10.2 - Jaguar
In 10.2 the brushed metal look appears for the first time in some applications like address-book for example. The finder still had the striped look.
Mac OS X 10.3 - Panther
Panther saw the most changes and marked to me also the point that Mac OS X was getting at a mature age. This marks also the introduction of the brushed metal Finder. But one of the best things in Panther was that the pinstripes in the menu background and anywhere else in the OS were nearly invisible. Title bars lost the stripes completely.
Mac OS X 10.4 - Tiger
Tiger didn’t match Panther in terms of the number of graphical changes. One of the changes was in the Apple menu icon, It became a bit brighter and consisted of a flatter shade of blue. It’s now a brighter, flatter shade of blue. The biggest graphical change then was the new unified titlebar/toolbar. Mail for example had the icons in the glassy button look which I really hate.
Windows Vista lessons
Let’s say that I would be very disappointed if Apple took some lessons from the Windows Vista look, where glass and transparency is everywhere. I can’t shake the feeling that it is a bit like when bevel filters first appeared in Photoshop. Everybody was like “look what I created”. I have that same feeling when I look at the Vista interface, they used it too much and all subtleness is out of the window. John Gruber said that he thought Apple was setting out to make Vista look like a toy when compared to a more refined and professional OS X. My thinking exactly. To me Vista is like a theme for ShapeShifter, something fun for awhile. That’s what I have with most themes by the way, I always go back to simplicity and the original look Apple created.
Mac OS X 10.5 - Leopard
I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple introduced bigger icons then 128x128 pixels because I guess they are thinking about what to do with the growing trend of bigger screens and higher resolutions. I think it would be wonderful if the system is smart and detects your resolution and adjusts everything accordingly. Some new icons could be added because I’m bored with the blue default folders.
The Brushed Metal Look
Personally I really hope they will get rid of the brushed metal look, I didn’t like it from the start. First introduced in 10.2 and since 10.3 almost in all parts of the OS. The new iApps could be an indication of the path Apple is following. That look isn’t available anywhere else in the system. Maybe something along the lines of the UNO look.
What I would like
Another welcome change to me would be more subtle shadows. When two windows are on top of each other I find them too hard when the background is white. Most of the icons in the toolbars could also benefit from softer shadows. What I would prefer, is that the windows or any UI elements that are visible but not on top are a bit shaded so that the top ‘active’ window’ stands out more. My guess is that the new UI will have a more subtle use of 3D, shadows and other effects. I’m thinking of a more flatter look but still with a bit of shininess left, maybe a bit like this? (something that I quickly designed):
What bothers me a bit is that Apple has so many different window styles now in the system that I sometimes dream of more consistency. We could benefit from it aesthetically I think and it would end the critique that Apple is no longer eating its own dog-food. Maybe Apple will come up with 2 variations: a dark one and a light one. Black MacBook Pro’s have the dark UI as default and the white ones the lighter one, but both ‘themes’ are available. Apple likes to work with either black and white these days and they like to reflect the look of their hardware in the UI. They used these stripes and a lot of aqua in the first OS X UI which suited perfectly with the look of the Macs back then.
The Finder could learn a thing or two from Path Finder in that regard, so I am kinda hoping that “tabs” will make into 10.5.
I’m also wondering what Apple will do with the aqua effect: the scrollbars, the 3 top left bullets etc. My guess is that they will dump it, or let’s say reduce the effect to make is less bubbly. What I’m saying would mean a drastic change. It’s a very wild guess I know. I could be totally wrong :) Although my guess is that Apple is thinking ‘we had this, it was cool for that time, it’s passÃƒÂ© now, let’s move on’.
So what’s on your Leopard list?