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6 Ways Apple Could Improve OS X 10.11

With WWDC around the corner and a likely unveiling of a new version of OS X, here’s six improvements we’d like to see.

Finder tags

When Apple introduced OS X 10.9 they included Finder tags which allowed you to tag a file with additional metadata.

However, this is not particularly useful because the tags appear as color dots instead of text and they are very small and overlap each other. It also means you can no longer color code the entire filename, making it easy to miss color-coded files.

So my proposal is for two types of tags: color tags and text tags. Color tags affect the background color of the file in the list and can be easily spotted when scrolling. You can only assign one color to a file.

Text tags do not affect the background color of the file, even when colored, but appear in a bubble next to the filename. So you can tag it “VFX” and “Delivery" for example and anyone can see at a glance that it is a VFX deliverable. Any tags that can’t fit in can be expanded by clicking an ellipsis icon next to the filename.

Airplay video streaming

It should be possible to stream video from a Mac video player like QuickTime or CinePlay to an Apple TV. This is something that can already be done in iOS but still hasn’t made it to the Mac.

There are some solutions to this but they are very hacky and developers would benefit from an officially-sanctioned method.

Files in use

One of the most annoying things about OS X is how it frequently refuses to perform an action like moving a file or emptying the trash because the file is in use, even when you can’t figure out what’s using it and haven’t opened that file in months. This bug has existed for a very long time.

I have a theory that it may be related to QuickLook scanning the file to update its icon but I haven’t been able to exactly pinpoint it.

There are some workarounds such as copying a file instead of moving it or securely emptying the trash.

AV Foundation: Don’t treat remote files as second-class citizens

There are some very powerful tools in Apple’s AV Foundation media framework. Unfortunately many of the functions for scanning media files and extracting information are limited only to files that exist on the user’s local hard drive. This can limit the options you have for dealing with files on a remote web or FTP server.

There is no real reason for this because even though the data originates on a remote server, it still ends up in memory and/or cached to disk, depending on the situation. Because AV Foundation is built to be asynchronous, there is no reason why this data cannot be provided to an app as and when it is downloaded.

OpenGL ES / Metal

OpenGL ES is a cut-down version of OpenGL that is intended for mobile devices. Metal is a low-level iOS API by Apple intended to improve performance of graphical apps.

Because neither of these are supported on OS X, it means porting graphical apps between platforms requires a lot of work. With some parts of OpenGL ES it’s easy because all you have to do is slightly modify the name of a function, but in other cases it’s trickier because there are no direct equivalents for certain commands.


One rumor making the rounds is that Apple will forego major new features in favor of polishing and optimizing its codebase.

I feel that Apple’s software quality has slipped in the past five years and the annual release cycle means that Apple is often introducing new features (and therefore new bugs) before it has finished fixing the bugs introduced in the previous version.

The last time Apple did this was for OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and I have spoken to many people who consider it to be the best release of OS X. In fact, more of our customers are on 10.6 than 10.7 or 10.8.

I would therefore be willing to sacrifice all of the above feature requests in favor of a massive codebase polish from top to bottom.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Jun 3 2015 to DR News, Analysis, Apple