My Lame Powers of Prediction

In January 2003, I predicted that major browsers would have RSS readers built into them within six months, which would have put the first release of such a feature at around July 2003. Obviously, that didn’t happen. At WWDC today, Apple unveiled the major features in Tiger (OS X 10.4). Among them is an integrated RSS reader for Safari. That puts my prediction off by a year. Except that Tiger won’t be out until 2005, so make that 18 months. My crystal ball must have been hit by a stray neutrino.

A few readers have written me over the past week speculating about whether HFS+Finder in Tiger would more closely resemble BeOS’ spectacular BFS+Tracker combination, given that Dominic and Pavel have been working at Apple for the past year and a half. The answer is… sort of. Spotlight is going after metadata in a big way, and is making system-wide, instantaneous search on any type of heterogenous data seamless. The “Keywords” feature may or may not be similar to BFS’ Attributes. The key to making Spotlight as fast and flexible as BFS+Tracker will be, for me, whether attributes, er, keywords, are 100% customizable into arbitrary metadata forms, whether the metadata indexing is fast, automatic and efficient, and whether Apple finally releases a complete cousin to Be’s incredibly powerful FileTypes panel.

Also cool in Tiger: The very slick Dashboard (did Apple purchase Konfabulator?), full videoconferencing in iChat, and a powerful-looking scripting front-end called Automator. Oh, I wouldn’t mind a 30-inch aluminum-encrusted display, either.

Update: The Register confirms that Apple didn’t buy Konfabulator – they pulled a Watson on it (thanks Michael). I got a kick out of one of the propaganda posters Apple apparently has out at the WWDC: “Redmond, start your photocopiers.” Which is especially ironic given all the copying that Cupertino is apparently doing.

Music: Pat Kelly :: I Wish It Would Rain

9 Replies to “My Lame Powers of Prediction”

  1. Speaking of Watson, Sun Microsystems has purchased it from Karelia and is in the process of turning it into a cross-platform Java/Swing thingamuhjobber.

    As far as WWDC goes, I’ll process the meal and regurgitate in my neck of the woods. But I’m with you, Scot. Do metadata right, or don’t do it.

  2. The key to making Spotlight as fast and flexible as BFS+Tracker was will be…

    In a thousand years, Gandahar will be destroyed. A thousand years ago, Gandahar will be saved…

    Gandahar was will be saved.

  3. It’s looking like Apple copied Desk Accessories, an idea which Konfabulator also copied.

  4. I’ll be very interested to see what API’s are exposed for third party search tools. Because the live indexing and search functionality was a public BeOS API from the get-go, third-party developers made great use of it for things like adding meta-data to songs and using common email attributes.

    Will a third party developer be able to build things like media players which have live searches instead of library folders or mail transport agents which use attributes on mail files which are then picked up by mail apps using live searches?

    Searchlight is coming in pretty late in the game for OS X (Thanks, DBG and Pavel!), but I wonder if it will be as opaque and shifty as the contact database of Apple’s AddressBook and the iTunes library. Both have been reverse engineered and used extensively, but Apple can change them with any new release.

  5. Did Apple ripoff Konfabulator or Desk Accessories? I think the Konfabulator people are getting a little holy… I bought Konfabulator, and enjoy using it, but I don’t think it is that original of an idea.

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