The more I think about the new features announced for Mail 3.0, the less I like them.
I’m by no means alone in this. There are comments all over the place from people bemoaning the addition of stationery (”Too much bloat”) and RSS (”We’ve already got RSS support in Safari!”) - although I have to admit that I’ve not seen many people complaining about the notes feature. That seems to be pretty popular.
But perhaps there’s signs of a new direction for Apple’s software here. (This is nothing but speculation, but bear with me.)
The description of the new Todo feature caught my attention, not because I need another way to record todo items, but because it was said to be “system-wide”. Thanks to having its own existence outside of Mail itself, the Todo database (CoreTodo, anyone? - just kidding) gets neatly synced up with your Todo list in iCal. Add a new item from a Mail message, and check it off in iCal when you’re done. The app you’re using doesn’t matter - the data is what counts, and it flows from one app to another depending on your context.
Now wouldn’t it be interesting if this were a sign of more interoperability between apps to come? Take the new RSS feeds in Mail. Well, a lot of people already use the Tiger-introduced RSS feature in Safari. What’s Apple going to do, tell them to stop reading feeds in Safari and force them to switch to Mail? Surely not?
A smarter move would be to create a preference somewhere in Mail or Safari that keeps feeds in both apps synchronized and up-to-date. After all, no-one is going to want to have to manage two sets of feeds in the two different applications; just because your context has changed, why should your data? To me this is exactly the same as Todo items suddenly being interlinked between Mail and iCal. I’d be astonished if there wasn’t something similar created for RSS feeds in Mail and Safari.
I think Joshua Porter has a good point; there are signs that Apple is investing in social software. These hints of what is to come in Leopard might be the first signs of that happening, and I look forward to seeing it progress further.