Tiger Searching, Widgets, & Windows

by Luke Wroblewski June 28, 2004

Steve Jobs previewed Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) on Monday. Of particular interest were Spotlight and Dashboard.

Spotlight applies the metadata-based content management system I recently exalted in iTunes & iPhoto to the entire Apple operating system. “Spotlight technologies make searching smarter, more flexible and powerful by indexing the “what, when and who” of every piece of information saved on your Mac.” The interface for detailed searches is consistent across all Apple applications and very straightforward.

Dashboard puts the power of limited OS X application design in the hands of Web developers. I recently mentioned how the inevitable convergence of Microsoft Windows and the World Wide Web would empower Web designers. Longhorn enables Web sites to deliver smart clients that offer a degree of interactivity beyond what is normally possible in Web pages today. It looks like Dashboard’s Widgets might be a first step in that direction. According to David Hyatt “each widget is just a web page, and so you have the full power of CSS2, DOM2, JS, HTML, XML, Flash, Quicktime, Java, etc. behind each one.” Konfabulator, a shareware application introduced a very similar Javascript-based Widget concept a while back and it remains to be seen how the two applications differ.

Apple also continues to innovate in window management solutions. Following on the heels of Expose and Dashboard, Apple has filed a patent for a user interface technique entitled "Graduated visual and manipulative translucency for windows" that would give active windows more visual importance on the user's screen, while unused windows would slowly fade into the background.