Technology

The More Things Change

A couple of interesting images related to forthcoming Apple products have been floating around this week. (Well, they’re interesting to me at any rate, so you get to hear about them.)

The first image that struck me was in Engadget’s report on a new keyboard for the upcoming iMac revision. This falls firmly under the “rumor and speculation” category, but it seems inline with Apple’s current design philosophy. One item of debate, though, has centered around the apparent removal of the apple logo from the cmd keys on either side of the keyboard. See the comparison shots below:

photos courtesy of Apple and Gizmodo respectively

Whether or not the second image is real, I’m surprised this cosmetic change hasn’t already been implemented. Apple documentation seldom (if ever) refers to an “Apple” key while “cmd-” is commonly documented. Furthermore, Andy Hertzfeld writes about Jobs’ intense dislike for the keyboard Apple logo on folklore.org.

From the article:

“There are too many Apples on the screen! It’s ridiculous! We’re taking the Apple logo in vain! We’ve got to stop doing that!”

After we told him that we had to display the command key symbol with each item that had one, he told us that we better find a different symbol to use instead of the Apple logo, and, because it affected both the manuals and the keyboard hardware, we only had a few days to come up with something else.

Therefore, if future Apple keyboards eschew the use of Apple logos on the cmd keys, it should really come as no surprise.

The second thing to pique my interest came way of Think Secret’s posting of some recent Leopard screenshots. In the shots was a picture of the Finder’s new Path Bar:

photo courtesy of Think Secret

I don’t find this interesting because of a similar Windows Vista feature. Rather, it’s significant because this is another NEXTSTEP feature to reappear in OS X. (Really, one of these days I’m going to write a very long-winded post about why I view Mac OS X more as NEXTSTEP version 5.x more than Mac OS 10.x.)

In order, the shots below represent OPENSTEP 4.2 released in the late nineties, two developer previews of Mac OS X, and the public beta version of Mac OS X released in 2000. Note that a path bar is visible in all screens except the Mac OS X Public Beta, where it suddenly disappears.

these shots are all courtesy of GUIdebook

The new Finder Path Bar is definitely more minimal than those previous incarnations, but I think it is yet another indication of the influence Mac OS X’s NEXT roots has on its continued development. Also, as Mac OS X continues to evolve, I think we’re going to see a lot more small but welcome enhancements like these slip in under the radar. Now, if only they would fix the weirdness that is the Leopard dock

It often strikes me as fascinating that so many advances at Apple owe so much to their roots, even as far back as the development of the original Macintosh more than twenty years ago.

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