Every App Has Its Day

by Derrick Story

If you step back for a moment and look at the last few years of Apple evolution, you might notice a cycle, like the seasons, beginning to take shape.

We've had operating system revs in the fall, iLife announcements at the New Year, and something fun in the spring. It's an easy rhythm to fall into, and of course just as soon as I get comfortable, the whole thing will be turned upside down. But for this New Year, I think the pattern is going to hold.

I remember asking an Apple product manager about a particular program back in New York. I said, "Not much has happened with that for a while. What gives?" He looked back at me, and in typical Apple fashion, he spoke in parables instead of facts and said, "Well, you know, every app has its day. Today it's iTunes, tomorrow, who knows?"

In my opinion, there are a few Mac applications that are ready to be reintroduced to the spotlight. At the top of that list is iPhoto. As you know, this is software near and dear to my heart, but it needs a little work. I'd like to see a more robust database managing information beneath that user-friendly exterior. Rendezvous sharing, as we have in Image Capture and iTunes is a no-brainer. And the addition of a few more basic editing tools, such as unsharp mask would be quite welcome. And why not have it handle those little QuickTime movies our cameras shoot so we can add them to our slideshows?

I've been doing some work in iMovie lately and would like to see some enhancements there too. For one thing, it seems a little less stable in Panther than it used to be. I've even had it quit on me, which is unusual for an Apple app outside of Safari. I still want more audio tracks too. iMovie 3 was a solid improvement over version 2, but it needs to keep evolving. Many video shooters just aren't Final Cut people. It's too intimidating for them. Let's keep iMovie moving along for them, and for the rest of us who like to cut video quickly, but want a polished product when finished.

Finally, I think iCal needs a bit of love. When I switched to Panther, I moved from Palm Desktop to iCal and Address Book. I don't regret the move, but I think iCal is a good idea that hasn't reached its potential yet. Little things need to be added, such as when you ctrl-click on the Dock icon you see today's appointments, so we can fully embrace this app as our calendar program.

Like everyone else, I don't know what Steve is going to say on stage at Macworld SF. It looks like we'll have some iPod news, and probably an iTunes rev to go with it. But let some other apps have their day too. And I'm putting iPhoto and iMovie at the top of my wish list.


2003-12-30 10:36:06
One word (GWB Style..)
Keynote 2.0
2003-12-30 12:05:33
fixes for brain-dead design
like you, i want very much to adopt all of Apple's apps. But they make it hard.

Mail is a good example. The integration is great. But you can't do something as simple as change the subject of an email for filing. This is not an inconsequential shortcoming: who hasn't sent/received a series of emails & replies that all end up with the same subject--MAYBE with a "Re:" in front of some of them. Which one proposed a deal, which one countered, which one accepted a final agreement, is invisible. Hugely inefficient. And what makes it worse, it's a feature that's been around a long time--Claris emailer, which i'm trying to leave behind, has had it for years.

So: If i'm to switch to mail, i need to be able to have six emails, let's say, with the subject line of "Here's my proposal" or "Re:...." the same, and be able to change the subjects to "wants lower price", "here's a cheaper proposal," "one more request" and "you've got a deal". Which set of exchanges would YOU rather have in a file? It's just silly not to be able to do that when you want/need to. That's an example of brain dead programming. The subject line of the email to apple complaining about it would be "deal-killer".

I want these improvements not because i want to complain, but because i want to embrace apple apps.


2003-12-30 13:08:48
iPhoto & cameraphones
iPhoto needs to handle camera phones too!
2003-12-30 14:36:17
I wish iPhoto wouldn't choke on my 3,336 photos everytime I launch it, or try to edit pictures. You'd think a dual 1.25 with 2 megs of memory could handle this. So I'm assuming iPhoto needs to be tweaked. I don't want to bother with multiple libraries.
2003-12-30 16:29:40
RE: iPhoto & cameraphones
Yes it does. In fact, iPhoto is the perfect app for people to use to manage their camera phone images. Officially add this request to my list.
2003-12-30 17:43:32
I think iCal needs simple local Calendar sharing. The low-tech one-Mac family could benefit greatly from iCal, except that to share calendars you either need to set up a WebDAV server, buy .Mac, or use one of the WebDAV services. I've set up the WebDAV module with Apache right on our iMac, but the average lower-tech user (like the one who uses the Mac for its UI) doesn't have the know-how or the interest to do that. All they have to do is put a GUI on it within iCal or even some other way of sharing calendars locally. (Hmmm... Rendezvous anyone?)
2003-12-30 17:58:12
iCal and iPhoto improvements
First, I'd like to see that iCal can fire events even when the computer is asleep. You could have a maintenance calendar that can hold a complex set of wake and sleep instructions and make sure your computer is working as well as possible. Also, it would then work as an alarm clock.

If iPhoto cannot be improved to be able to easily handle thousands of photos, they should build in the functionality of iPhoto Library Manager (allowing you to have multiple libraries with the ability to switch the active one) and iPhoto Diet (that lets you slim down your library size by getting rid of originals that have been edited). The system of keeping originals after editing prevents you from having to commit to an edit with a (gasp!) Save command, but it also creates some horrible bloat, particularly if you are an aggressive cropper!

2003-12-30 17:58:43
What about AppleWorks?
Never mind iThis and IThat, AppleWorks has received even less attention and is in need of a major overhaul to bring it into line with modern features like HTML exporting that are found in Office.

Anyone for iWorks v1?


2003-12-30 19:53:10
I only have about 800 photos on my 667 MHz TiBook, but iPhoto still takes upwards of 10 seconds to launch, and scrolling through photos is choppy the first time you do it (I have a 3 mpx. camera). When you factor in the slow-ish importing and lack of video, you end up with a neglected app the really needs a major speed boost/update.
2003-12-30 21:46:27
I wish that iPhoto would automatically jump to the first picture whenever you change albums.
2003-12-30 22:31:18
Mail merge
I'd like to see Mail have the ability to do mail merges. It already has access to the Address Book DB, so why not include some tags for sending out personalised e-mails to your mailing lists which you set up in Address Book?
2003-12-31 00:38:48
2 megs of memory really isn't a lot. I'm thinking you meant 2 GIGS? ;-)

I have thousands of photos too, on a lowly 15" PowerBook (1.25 Mhz) with 1 GB of RAM. It's not all that sluggish once you collapse the rolls, so that just their titles show.

(Organize by roll, then Option-click one of the collapsible arrows to the left of one roll's title.)

Turning off drop shadows in the prefs helps too.

It's no speed demon but it certainly never chokes when I launch it or try to edit a photo.

2003-12-31 11:09:26
I might be wrong, but does iCal send e-mail alarms when the user is not logged in? That was a major issue for me with the previous iCal, and I am not sure if that was fixed...
2004-01-01 09:04:36
What about AppleWorks?
You've got a great point there. My guess is that "the application suite formerly known as AppleWorks" will become a new productivity suite similar to iLife. We already have Keynote. I have a feeling that a top drawer word processor isn't far behind.
2004-01-05 09:52:35
WANTED (needed): iAnswer software

Macs lack UTTERLY any phone answering machine software.

Apple needs an 'iAnswer' application that replaces those POS useless plastic thingies they call answering machines.

Ah, the joy that app would bring.