Friday, 10 April 2009

A look at Snow Leopard's top-secret Marble UI [Mockup]

As more is steadily leaking out a Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, it's starting to sound like it will offer significantly more than simply the under-the-hood improvements promised at last summer's WWDC. Not that these improvements aren't important and welcome, but they're not what deliver sales of a consumer-oriented desktop operating system.

MacPredictions was always curious about how Apple was going to market an OS revision that offered no new end-user features. In fact, this blog had previously concluded that it would be offered as a free update to existing Leopard users.

But recent talk of a brand new user interface skin called Marble, which would reflect developments over the last couple of years in iTunes, iWork, Safari and iPhone, starts to promise us a little more.

So here, for your consideration, we present a mockup of how 10.6 might appear. In the background is iTunes, the rosetta stone of all Apple UI speculation. In front of it, there's a QuickTime X window. Contrary to popular opinion, which suggests it has a translucent window bar, we've mocked it up as reflective menu bar - similar to the way that the controls in the iPhone iPod application reflect the album art above them.

At the front, the window with focus is the new, completely re-written Cocoa Finder. MacPredictions has published a similar mockup of this before - featuring skimmable folders. Here, it's been updated to reflect the subtly tweaked button bar on the Safari 4.0 beta, which has a lighter highlight, and sharper keylines. Plus, of course, the controversial new tabs. Tabbed browsing in Finder will surely be worth the $129 upgrade fee alone.


  1. Interesting post, Graham.

    I think the menu bar will be transparent black, much like the iPhone's. As for Quicktime, maybe the supposed transparent button bar will auto hide, and be activated when hovering over it. QT's current full screen mode comes to mind.

    Apple needs to get rid of so mush dead space in between your typical Finder button bar. Ideally, this is why HUD transparencies would work.

    The Finder's clutter will be massively reduced by a tabbed UI. Apple's minimalist aesthetic should see off the static signature Aqua scroll bar in favor of one akin to the iPhone's, that only appears when scrolling.

    And how about making the Genius feature a widespread context and photo recognition engine, automatically suggesting related information either locally or on the cloud?

    There's gotta be some killer apps and features, for Apple to get people to line up outside their stores for an OS once again. A centralized Mac App Store would capitalize con the Mac's newfound massive development support. Apple won't just use up a great felid species on a free release.

  2. i am disapointed - there are not many changes really. i liked the aqua look, to replace it with marble look is a step back. ive and jobs went to a candy company to work out why this look looks nice and fruity and the result was that the people liked it. do we like marble? well, to be honest: it reminds me of linux!

    however, part 2 of the redesign is (for sure) the reduction of the interface. this makes sense in programs like quicktime because their purpose is to watch (passively) a film. other elements of the finder are active elements, to reduce them (like removing the scroll bars) would confuse a lot – especially the beginners.

    what i wish to have is an increase of functionallity without making the user interface more difficult. for example: i want to be able to sort a search result by size, or i want to sort mp3 files in a folder by interpret, or i want to be able to rename or delete a folder or file in a dialoge-open-box. unnecessary ideas? well, these ideas are some of the things that made working on windows xp very handy. it increased productivity and was a logical thing (a dialog box IS like a finder window, so why doesn't it behave like this as well?)

  3. Why does it say "Top sites" in the Finder? Especially considering it has the Safari 4 BETA tabs and the Documents folder open? It doesn't make much sense.

  4. Well spotted, Dojan5. Top sites should say Documents. My mistake. The tabs was deliberate - this visual was done before the final version of Safari 4 came out. It's just a fantasy I have that one day Apple will add tabs to the Finder.

    From the WWDC keynote, it seems we won't be seeing the Marble UI in Snow Leopard either. They explicitly said they're leaving the appearance of the Finder the way it is. So this visual is no longer relevant anyway. Oh well.