What Macs Are Missing

I think one of the greatest strengths of the Mac is the software that comes with a new one. Along with standard Mac OS X applications like Mail, Safari, iCal, Address Book and TextEdit, you also get the iLife suite with iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, GarageBand and iWeb. This takes care of a lot of needs right out of the box. For instance, you can audio and video podcast and make home DVDs without investing in any other software.
But Apple can still do better, and without much effort. Here are a few programs that I think can be easily added to new Macs to sweeten the deal.
1. Since the death of MacPaint, Macs have come without any way to simply draw. A simple program that allows one to draw lines, shapes and edit bitmaps would be a huge plus. Pros would still go to pro software for this, but a casual user could have lots of fun drawing and editing clipart. So I would suggest ImageEdit as a companion to TextEdit.
2. Seems like a lot of people need a very simple FTP program. I just did a video podcast on FTP with Cyberduck, an open source option. But the Finder can actually be used to download from FTP servers. It would be a logical extension of the Finder if you could open a window that was a full FTP connection to a server, as you can do with afp, smb and iDisk. Then you wouldn’t need an FTP program for a quick upload. Support for SFTP amd FTP with SSL would be a mist as well.
3. The Apple II was fascinating because it has Apple Basic. You could program it. The original Mac had Hypercard, which allowed aspiring developers to get their feet wet. The current Macs have Xcode, which is for serious and experienced developers only. Or, you could drop down into Terminal and do some hard-core programming there. But a simple Hypercard-like programming environment would go a long way to getting young people and “tinkerers” hooked on Macs. Since Safari and the Dashboard use JavaScript, and that is a well-documented and supported language, it seems that this would be a natural choice. So some sort of JavaScript programming environment that could produce stand-alone apps and Dashboard Widgets would be a huge plus for Macs both at home and for schools.
4, 5 and 6. Wouldn’t it be great if all Macs came with a word processor, spreadsheet program and presentation software? Well, they almost do. You just have to pay a little extra for iWork. But what if iWork came with every Mac? Which would make more money for Apple: ask people to pay $79 to get iWork, or give iWork away like they do iLife and ask people to pay for the next version. I think they would get more with the “first one is free” iLife model. Plus they would sell more Macs by being able to advertise that Macs come with the pro office suite while PCs charge extra for it.
Also, I think iWork is actually more iEducate. Those three applications probably get as much if not more use among students than among office workers. Pages is used to write papers, and Keynote is used throughout education. Apple even teaches Pages to elementary school students at its “camp” programs.
So there are my six picks. What apps would you like to see come standard with all Macs?

Comments: 11 Responses to “What Macs Are Missing”

    4/14/09 @ 12:08 pm

    OS X doesn’t seem to be missing very much. Something small that would be nice to have is maybe a welcome/quick-start program that can help you quickly get acquainted with the operating system. Windows has had one with every OS that they make (I believe).

    This is why I like how you can have Windows on your Mac (or OS X on your PC).

      4/15/09 @ 1:10 pm

      I totally agree. I have one question though. How do you run OSX on your PC? I have tried to figure this out, but not have had a reliable source. I have the 17- inch MacBook Pro, if that helps! Thanks!

        4/15/09 @ 5:21 pm

        Run OS X on your PC? But you say you have a MacBook Pro. So isn’t OS X running on it already?

          4/15/09 @ 9:07 pm

          Yes, but it would be nice to have the same operating system on my other computer. I just bought a Mac last Thursday and want to see if I can run OS X and both my Mac and my PC.

            4/15/09 @ 9:37 pm

            The license for Mac OS X states that it is only to be run on a Mac. In addition, Apple has made it impossible to install OS X on a non-Mac, unless you hack it.

    4/15/09 @ 1:11 am

    I’d like an easy way to turn off the starting chime, other than remembering to turn off the sound before shutdown.

    4/15/09 @ 8:17 am

    As much as a simple draw program would be welcome, why stop there- especially when Apple already owns the software – already ported to OS-X Carbon:

    AppleWorks is a word processor, a drawing program, a painting program, a spreadsheet, a database program, and, in AppleWorks 6, Apple replaced the communications feature with a presentation feature. AppleWorks could open and save Microsoft Word and Excel documents.

    iWork, even if free, lacks the integration between modules, the simplicity of one program, and the numerous drawing, painting and other features that made it the perfect starter program for new / newbie Mac users.

    4/15/09 @ 9:09 pm

    I did find a Paint program on Apple.com, Paintbrush. It’s very similar to Paint on Windows computers.

    4/16/09 @ 5:40 am

    You should be working for Apple. They need someone like you.

    You make very valid points.

    Apple would likely sell more computers, thus make more money, while at the same time be providing a much needed service.

    4/16/09 @ 8:05 am

    What I would most like to have is a fully multi-user version of OS X, with network interfaces for monitors with USB keyboards.

    I think Apple could make a huge impact in small and medium business with a system like that, selling one machine to replace several Windows PCs and a Windows server. The cost savings and service improvements for small business owners and department managers would be huge. It would exploit all the goodies of parallel processing and massive memory / storage and would give Apple a simple, compelling product proposition for SMBs that Microsoft couldn’t match for years.

    It would also give Apple an approach to business markets that’s focussed on the sale of a box, not on developing all sorts of expensive and hard to justify services for Windows centric IT staff in large organizations.

    C’mon Apple – let’s have a game changer!

    4/16/09 @ 3:31 pm

    The iWork “comes free” idea is great! But not all people need an FTP app though.

    Go Gary!

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