If you’ve ever looked at the iPhoto application in Finder, you’ll know that iPhoto and the photos it stores are one in the same. They’re a ‘package’ that you can’t break apart. This is fundamentally different from how iTunes and all other OS X applications work; they store their files in folders somewhere separate from the application itself.
The iPhoto ‘package’ is a sandbox that contains everything iPhoto wants to play with. In Lion, apps will only be able to modify their own sandboxes, which is great for security. iOS apps already use sandboxes, and that’s why there’s no way you can screw up your iPhone just by installing an app.
iPhoto just is the first OS X app to work the way iOS apps work. Soon, most OS X applications will work that way. Yes, the filesystem is going away.
When I say it’s going away, what I mean is that most users will never need to know about it ever again. Documents will be visible within the applications that created them, and that’ll be it. As Gruber said on The Talk Show, the data for the app is in the app, not the filesystem. Anyone who uses Evernote or Google Docs or any iOS app is familiar with how this works. It’s very straightforward & logical.
If you already use Smart Playlists in iTunes or Smart Searches in Finder, you already have a taste of how the filesystem will “feel”. Apps will essentially see the filesystem through a Smart Search set to only show documents with a certain file type. You’ll still be able to sort them by date created, modified, and last opened.
The Post-PC Era is about non-computer users becoming computer users, and making computers more appliance-like, such that how they work will be self-explanatory. These non-users will soon represent 99% of all computer users, and they will not be power users.
Of course, Apple’s programmers will continue to use OS X as their primary operating system, so they’ll want to keep the ability for other power users to get down and dirty with the filesystem.
I said this over a year ago, and i’ll say it again now: OS X will achieve this by having two types of user accounts:
- User (average person, iAccount?)
- Power User (nerd, developer, administrator, Pro Account?)
All accounts will be created as normal “User” accounts by default, and you will be able to change them to Power User accounts in system preferences.
- If you have a User account, you will interact with OS X exclusively through Lion’s Launchpad app and iCloud. You won’t have a dock, and you won’t have a Finder.
- If you have a Power User account, you will interact with OS X through the dock (with stacks), iCloud, the Finder, and the filesystem. You’ll be able to use Launchpad if you want to, but you certainly won’t have to.
There are still lots of unanswered questions about when this will happen (Lion? OS 11?), and how we’ll deal with groups of related files of different types (i.e. my project uses pages documents, powerpoints, images, and video — can i still zip them up together? can i tag them with the same project name?).
The future is very different, but I think it’s bright.