Mac OSX Tiger

Apple ComputerSince the salad days of 1998, when Apple turned around an impending corporate implosion (thanks to the return of ousted chairman Steve Jobs and the advent of the iMac), they’ve been increasingly more vocal, and also more prolific.

Since then, it seems there’s been a new upgrade to OSX every time we get used to the old one. They come faster, they make more of a splash, and Apple claims they’re going to completely revolutionise computing all over again. As they’re now a purveyor of the ‘digital lifestyle’ rather than boring old computer makers (and so have all the trappings like more exciting products, better ad copy and insatiable capital growth to bolster it up), the last few OS X versions have felt a little rushed. Was the Tiger going to spring too early?

If you believe Apple’s hype, utilities like Spotlight, Automator and Dashboard that come with Tiger are going to transform the way you conduct your digital life (again).

Spotlight, taking just one example, promises you unparalleled search technology across your whole system. Not only can you search filenames, now you can search within documents, including their metadata. So search for a keyword and it’ll give you a list of all your digital photos, documents, files, music, even emails.

If you’re in business and save or archive a lot of emails, that’s likely to be the best news you’ve heard in ages. Here’s the catch; Spotlight doesn’t work in every email client. If you use Entourage for Mac, for instance, tough. And if you’re just left searching filenames, there are utilities for Mac OSX around (and have been for a long time) that do it faster.

There’s a fair amount of future-proofing in Tiger. Safari — the native Mac OSX web browser — is now fully RSS-enabled (a term you’ll hear a lot over the next two years). And Dashboard, a one-click content pulling tool, downloads and displays data off the web in attractive windows (called Widgets) that tell you everything from the local time in London to today’s verse from the Qu’ran. Under our tests it didn’t even work, losing all its preferences after the next reboot, but even so it’s a big splash for very little.

While those migrating across from Windows will be impressed by the established look, feel and functionality of OSX, there’s little extra of any real substance to justify the cost — especially when (according to Apple’s past behaviour) there’ll be another upgrade next year that will revolutionise the world (again).