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Leopard Proves Mac OS X Is A Mashup

Take one part Spotlight, two parts iChat, a dash of Dashboard, and mix well with Core Animation. If Apple's developers are this creative, think of what the rest of us could do.
Take one part Spotlight, two parts iChat, a dash of Dashboard, and mix well with Core Animation. If Apple's developers are this creative, think of what the rest of us could do.While the current definition of mashup pertains to Web sites or apps that combine content from more than one source with Web 2.0 attributes (Ajax, RSS, etc.), it seems that the same can be said about an operating system these days. Apple's current Tiger and upcoming OS X Leopard are proof that the company's internal development teams are bouncing ideas off of each other to come up with some pretty nifty applications.

It's easy if you dissect the elements of any current Mac OS application. Let's take iChat for example.

Originally, this simple AIM-compatible client was just a good way for Mac owners to instant message each other. Add to that an iSight camera -- first as a separate device and now standard with MacBooks and iMacs -- and you now have videoconferencing. Throw in some image manipulation and we evolve to Photo Booth. But wait, there's more.

What good is videoconferencing if you can't present the documents in real time? This is where the Apple developer crew probably got to talking to the Core Animation group. The result is that with Leopard, iChat becomes iChat Theatre. The upgrade lets you change the background (where in the world is Phil Schiller?), animate your image (help me, Obi Wan) or manipulate the foreground (does Conan O'Brien know about this?). The last one is perfect for when you want the giant head of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer looming over Steve Jobs to make front-page news.

Finally, adding the new Quick Look feature to the mix allows iChat to let you conference in someone and present him with a Keynote presentation or a video clip with Apple flair.

Sure, the alternative would have been using WebEx, Microsoft's Office Live Meeting, Adobe Connect, or whatever Google will call its acquisition of Marratech. But in Apple-land, good ideas are promoted, so expect more of these mashups to become the norm.

In fact, it's what the company has been telling developers for the last 12 months. Between WWDC 2006 and Jobs' keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday, Apple hit the road to meet with developers in some intimate settings and explain to them how they can combine different Tiger and Leopard elements and come up with some wild new applications.

Look at Spaces. It's a marriage of Dashboard the graphic flip used when you change users. Time Machine is where Spotlight meets Core Animation/Quick Look. Even the beloved Finder has taken its latest cues from the iTunes Cover Flow and Quick Look.

Fortunately, Apple is open to this kind of development. If you've never seen Comic Life (available in Tiger 10.4 or as a download), this is a great example of a company making a mashup using several Tiger elements and bundling it into a fun package.

Anyone else out there working on Mac mashups like this?