An Apple job listing
for a software engineer to work on Mac OS X 10.7 hints at a "totally new" (totally!) feature that will be unveiled in the upcoming operating system, some innovation that Apple says "has never been done before" and that will "truly amaze everyone." Using the word "revolutionary" no fewer than three times
, the listing seeks an engineer with "up close and personal experience with the HTTP protocol as well as other protocols layered atop it," suggesting that the feature is closely tied in to Web technology.
While Apple generally lays it on pretty thick about how awesome its technology is, the listing talks about a change in the "very foundations of Mac OS X," suggesting that the next software update will involve a significant redesign of the operating system. While changes in the system since Mac OS X was first introduced have been incremental in nature - Intel support, improved graphics, etc. - the language of the ad portends some kind of essential difference between not only 10.7 and previous versions of Mac OS X, but between 10.7 and every other OS
The emphasis put on HTTP and "other protocols layered atop it" provide a possible clue about the nature of the "revolution." Given that this is an ad for an OS engineer, there's a real chance that the "amazing" new feature involves tight integration of cloud computing technology into the OS itself, possibly even a fully internet-bootable system. One rumor from last year's Macworld
, quoting "a friend of a friend who is a trusted source of a friend at Apple" (LOL) claimed that Mac OS X 10.7 "will... connect to the cloud and download the kernel" rather than having a local operating system. The problems with this story are obvious: in addition to it being almost 100% pure, unadulterated fiction, who would want a computer that you can't use when your internet connection is down?
However, assuming for the moment that the rumor might have been based on a misunderstood description of a real Apple project, let's not forget about the mysterious big Apple data center
that the company has never fully explained. Previously revealed patents
have referred to a system that would allow you to start a game on your home computer, continue playing it on your iPad, and finish up at work or at school. This would require a fundamental change in how the Mac OS works, and in a world where tablet computers and trackpads can be called "magical" and "revolutionary," you can see how this could possibly live up to such a label.
Of course, it could just be typical corporate BS. That's the thing about Apple: as cool as their products often are, they still manage to exaggerate them way out of proportion. Anyway, this will potentially be an interesting story to watch develop. After all, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is a year old… how long are we going to have to wait for 10.7? (And what will it be called… Clouded Leopard