10 Things Apple's Mac OS X Needs to Stay Competitive

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10 Things Apple's Mac OS X Needs to Stay Competitive

by Don Reisinger

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Remember Third Parties

One of the most common complaints users have about Mac OS X is that the operating system doesn't have enough third-party software. Admittedly, that's Apple's way of controlling its operating system's ecosystem to make it as reliable as possible. That's nice and all, but users still want their apps. Start playing nice with developers, Apple.

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Go Social

The future of the tech industry is based in the social movement. More than ever, consumers want to use products that incorporate their social networks into an experience. For now, Mac OS X doesn't do that. But neither does Windows. If Apple wants to take the upper hand in the market, it should bring social elements to its OS.

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What About the Web?

Apple shouldn't simply stop at social networks. There are a slew of really neat Web applications that could significantly improve the operating system's value proposition. And with Apple's recent acquisition of Lala, the company might want to consider integrating that into the OS. The Web is where many of the great apps are. Why not bring them to Mac OS X?

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Improve Finder

Finder was slightly improved in the new Snow Leopard offering from Apple, but it's still not perfect. It's still somewhat difficult to get around in Finder and although Apple claims it's faster than before, the difference is negligible after a while. Finder needs to be vastly improved in the next iteration of the operating system.

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Fix Spotlight

Apple should also work on improving the operating system's search function, Spotlight. It doesn't work nearly as well as users like. Worst of all, finding documents is far too difficult. Microsoft did a fine job improving search in Windows 7. Apple should take a page out of the software giant's playbook to do the same itself.

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Overhaul Native Apps

One of the main problems I have with Mac OS X is the operating system's slate of barely updated native applications, like Mail, iPhoto and iCal. Mail especially is in desperate need for an overhaul. The software application can't compare to many other e-mail programs on the market. It can't even match Gmail or Yahoo Mail. The same can be said for software that competes with other native apps. Apple needs to work hard on improving the native apps.

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Go for the Major Upgrade

For too long, Apple has engaged in a strategy of offering nominal upgrades to its operating system and packaging it as a different version of the OS. That's great for a while, but soon enough, consumers are wondering where the major upgrades are. Windows 7 was a major improvement over Windows Vista. We need to see a major improvement over Snow Leopard.

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Make Dashboard More Important

Apple has dropped the ball when it comes to Dashboard, the operating system's widget-housing application. There are still just a handful of useful widgets available to Dashboard users and very little Web integration. Apple could have used Dashboard to significantly improve the operating system's appeal. Instead, Dashboard has become a less and less used application.

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Fix Up the Dock

When Microsoft said that it had significantly improved the taskbar in Windows 7, some users were suspect of those improvements. Surely, it couldn't be better than Mac OS X's dock, right? Think again. Apple's Dock is now the second-best way to access applications in an operating system. If Apple wants to be successful, it needs to improve its Dock to regain the top spot in taskbars.

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Think About an Online Version

This one might not top Apple's list, but it should consider an online-only version of its operating system. The problem is, operating systems are moving online. Google's Chrome OS and Microsoft's Azure prove that eventually, most folks will be using Web-only operating systems. Apple can't afford to stay behind. It needs to work on an online-only version of its OS to ensure that if and when operating systems move online, it will be ready.

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