For the initial backup, I believe that Time Machine will take roughly 10 minutes for each gigabyte of data on your system; for the typical desktop or laptop, you should probably budget 20 hours. Afterwards, you can set the system to perform an incremental backup on a regular basis–say, at 4:00 every morning. I imagine that you’ll be able to use this in conjunction with the alarm clock that’s built into every Mac, so that your computer automatically turns itself on every morning and backs itself up before you awake.
Another area in which Apple has apparently invested time and money is the Mac’s parental-controls feature. Since I’m the father of a 10-year-old girl, this is something that immediately caught my eye.
There will be a little additional apple-polishing in the 10.5 release. Apple will further improve the compatibility of its operating system with both Microsoft products and emerging standards. Apple’s bare-bones TextEdit will now save text as HTML or in the Microsoft Word 97, 2003 XML, RTF, or Word 2007 formats. Apple’s mail program will have a better handle on what to do when mail servers are not available online. And if you type a query into Apple’s unified “help” system, it will now search through the menus of the program you’re using to find an answer. Since the help function is built directly into the operating system, it will even work with old programs like Microsoft Word.
There are some things I would hope Leopard includes by the time it ships. Users will certainly be able to set up the operating system’s firewall to filter incoming data transmissions. But will they be able to put restrictions on outgoing ones, too? If not, the Mac’s firewall won’t be able to prevent spyware that’s running on your computer from reporting on your actions. True, there is currently precious little spyware written for the Mac. But there is some, and it would be good to have some extra protection built into the operating system: as Macs become more popular, the amount of spyware is sure to increase.
I am no Mac bigot: I have a PC running Windows XP on my desk at home, and I use servers running FreeBSD and Linux every day. But the only things I use that PC for are Quicken Home and Business and a scanner that’s incompatible with my Mac. When I visit my friends who are still using PCs, all too often I find myself spending half an hour “fixing” their machines so that they don’t find them so tremendously frustrating.
I used to tell my friends, “Get a Mac.” These days I don’t bother. Given iTunes, Apple TV, and the new iPhone, I suspect that my friends will be able to use more and more of Apple’s technology from their PCs as time goes on. But they’ll still miss out on the totally unified Mac experience–one as firmly rooted in the ideal of the easy-to-use desktop machine as it ever was.
Simson Garfinkel researches computer forensics at the Harvard Center for Research on Computation and Society.
More design articles: Take an inside look at the making of the Ocean, a new phone from a company called Helio (see “Soul of a New Machine”). Take a decidedly non-inside look at how Apple approaches design (see “Different”). Get insights on the state of Web design from print-design legend Roger Black (see “Help Me Redesign the Web”), and find out what Bill Moggridge, a cofounder of Ideo and designer of the GRiD Compass, thinks makes good design (see Q&A). Take a glimpse at the pieces of technology that the prominent industrial designers featured in these articles say have influenced the way they think about their work (see “Objects of Desire”). Finally, hear from Technology Review’s Editor in Chief, Jason Pontin, on the well-designed technologies that are “beautiful machines” in this video.