Huibert Aalbers wonders about what happened to iLife’07 and iWork’07. Huibert concludes (as many before him) that the delay must be tied to the release of Apple’s next OS X iteration later this season, but he can’t quite figure out what the essential new feature in Leopard will be:

So, what could that technology be? My first thought was resolution independence. That new feature will require almost all developers to revisit their applications and it is clear to me that quick adoption of this technology is important to Apple in order to maintain the current public perception that Apple is ahead in the OS wars. Is that enough to justify delaying iWork and iLife? Probably not. The new applications will probably use some additional, unannounced features to generate excitement.
So let the wild speculation begin.
I’m thinking it may be some form of resolution independence after all. The idea behind resolution independence is that applications can render their windows irrespective of the physical resolution of the screen. Nothing to sneeze at, but a tad boring. However, Leopard will also have Core Animation, which allows building things like iTunes’ cover flow very easily.

We’ve already seen the iPhone seamlessly zoom in, zoom out, and flip icons, windows, and screens. Think about what a real computer could do here. Cover flow and multi-party iChat video show a glimpse of what a 3D accelerated user interface could look like, with light sources, reflections, and more.

Obviously the OS can simply move windows to the front and to the the back without support from the application itself, much like how Exposé works, but to really flabbergast us, applications would have to support the new 3D user interface and have different windows, inspectors, and requesters move around through Leopard’s three dimensional space. Core Animation takes care of the movement, and resolution independence makes sure text and UI elements align and look good at different zoom levels. The only thing missing is an easy way to manipulate virtual objects in three dimensions. Or do we just pinch them?

To speak with Robert X. Cringely: remember, you read it here first.

An earlier version of this article includes garbage collection as one of the underlying mechanisms that could allow a 3D user interface. Garbage collection is a new feature in Leopard that makes the life of programmers easier (if they use it). Without garbage collection, programmers are often relegated to obtaining memory from the system (the OS and/or the Objective C runtime and other lower layers that support applications) and then later releasing the memory back to the system when it’s no longer needed. The latter can get rather tricky with complex programs, where it’s hard to know for sure whether a block of memory is still needed or not. Giving it back and then trying to use it crashes the program, and not giving it back makes the program use more and more memory over time, slowing down the system. Garbage collection allows the system to determine whether the memory is still needed and to free it if it isn’t. So far so good.

So why did I bring up garbage collection? The idea is that when a program renders some complex graphic in multiple stages, it makes sense for the system to hold on to the intermediate images even if those aren’t needed right now. Then, if something changes, it could be useful to still have the cached copies of those intermediate build stages so they don’t have to be rebuilt. So garbage collection would clean up the intermediate images when memory is needed for something else. But that’s where I overlooked something: garbage collection only looks at whether a program still points to a block of memory. If it does, the block is in use and it’s not garbage collected. If not, then the block is garbage collected at some point, but if there is no pointer, then the program can’t find the contents of the block of memory anymore, even if it turns out that those contents may be useful after all. So no dice, garbage collection doesn’t come into play here.


H Apple ετοιμάζεται να μας ξανα καταπλήξει…να τρέχουμε παλι σαν τρελοί να πάρουμε το Leopard….
Γιατι όποιος δεν θα εχει Leopard θα είναι πολλύύύύ πίσω…….