Can't get your Address Book to talk to your Bluetooth phone? That's just one of Leopard's missing features which are now starting to come to light. Plus, why some Mac software developers refuse to take the heat for Leopard incompatibility.
Steve Jobs crowed that Leopard had over 300 new features. Scores of ‘Mac journalists', that peculiar breed of largely sycophantic scribes, faithfully spun the same line. But neither Jobs nor his little winged monkeys mentioned the stuff that Apple took out of its shiny new OS.
Yet as the first wave of upgraders settle in and poke around Leopard's every nook and cranny, they're realising that some features of Tiger and earlier editions of OS X have gone MIA.
Little things like being able to use Bluetooth to dial your mobile and send SMS messages from the Address Book, and then to read and reply to incoming SMS messages on your Mac.
|Bye-bye, Bluetooth: Leopard's Address Book no longer lets you use a Bluetooth link to your mobile phone to dial numbers or send, receive and reply to SMS messages
Sorry, did we say 'little
'? For notebook fans and road warriors, this is a jaw-dropping downgrade. An incredibly handy trick, which exemplifies the Mac's smart and seamless ‘it just works' philosophy, thoughtlessly ripped out and sacrificed for a dollop of eye candy. In other words, a real pisser. Yet Leopard's Address Book (which is earmarked as version 4.1) completely nukes those Bluetooth-linked call and SMS functions.
|Quick fix: the EmitSMS widget brings back Bluetooth dialling and SMSing from your Mac notebook
We don't know why, but we know what you can do about it: grab EmitSMS 1.85
(aka, The Program Formerly Known as SendSMS). This free widget works with any Bluetooth phone, says the author, even models not directly supported by the Address Book. It also has an Address Book look-up of names, splits messages longer than 160 characters into multiple SMS messages and advise that your SSM was successfully sent (which Tiger never did). You can't read incoming SMS messages on your Mac, but that's really a luxury compared to the convenience of composing and sending texts from your Mac's keyboard.
While digging around the Internet for more on this, we stumbled onto the Leopard's Lost Features blog created by ‘Jools' to document and share these head-scratching where-did-it-go moments.
The site also flags that you can no longer put a drive or folder onto the Dock as a convenient shortcut to open that object in a drill-down menu (this action now creates a Stack), and notes that with the Internet Connect application rolled into the revamped Network preferences pane, dial-up modem users (yes, they do still exist) can no longer check and monitor their connection speed.
Meanwhile, the arrival of Leopard was accompanied by scores of software incompatibilities. Danny Gorog has detailed the first batch of fixes as developers rush to tame the tabby, and many Mac fans are pointing out that Apple can't be held to blame for third-party software not being Leopard-friendly. (Which strikes us as funny, in an ironic-rather-than-chucklesome way, because we'd give good odds that they sledged Microsoft for Vista's hiccups with third-party software and drivers. But we digress...)
But developers aren't willing to take all the heat. Steve Gehrman, who created the souped-up Finder replacement known as Path Finder, has shared his experiences and thoughts at the Cocoatech Web site. For starters, Gehrman says the final round of ‘seed' builds were wildly inconsistent in their treatment of third-party software.
"I saw Path Finder bugs appear in one OS seed, disappear in the next couple of seeds, reappear in the fourth one and then disappear again" he recounts. "Unfortunately the last Leopard seed reserved a couple of surprises for us".
|Developer Steve Gehrman: bugs would "appear in one OS seed, disappear in the next couple of seeds, reappear in the fourth one and then disappear again"
Another developer commenting in Gehrman's blog supported this. "In my Leopard testing I observed our software bugs appear, dissapear and reappear again across Leopard seeds" wrote ‘Alexandra'. "We had a couple of issues reappear again on the very last build all of a sudden - they were gone since at least 4 builds or so before. This is very annoying not being able to know if those issues still exist on the final build."
Gehrman also highlights the problem with Apple not giving developers "access to the Leopard Gold Master seed before the general release date", so that they didn't get their paws on the final Leopard code for final compatibility testing until the same time as their customers.
This sentiment was echoed by fellow developer Steven Frank at his blog. "The third-party software that you're paying for, depending on, and hoping to run on Leopard (cannot be tested) on the final release build until we can run down to the Apple Store and pick it up, hopefully at least a few minutes before you do."
"This isn't a new thing" Frank admits. "It was the same deal with Tiger, and other OS releases before it. Apple has not stated any reason why the final builds are withheld from developers. There has been speculation that it's to prevent pre-release piracy of the OS, but that argument doesn't hold much water -- in the best possible case, they are simply delaying piracy by about a week. The more likely scenario is that the final build will appear on BitTorrent trackers before it appears on store shelves despite this quaint measure."