What does it take to compute?
As tablets begin to overtake desktop and laptop computers as the “go to” piece of hardware for getting a job done, the need for a big OS and big apps falls into question. Case in point, you can shoot HD, edit and upload to your favorite web repository from an iPod Touch, Android phone, Windows Phone, etc. Apple’s latest OS- Lion, pulls liberally from the iOS devices, and Windows 8 is rumored to be a lot like their Windows Phone OS. It is with this background that I checked out how big the apps were in my Mac OS Applications folder, and I was pretty surprised by the results.
I was using Grand Perspective to help me see what was eating up all my hard drive space. As I poked around the cool colored blocks, I because curious about my application folder, so I had Grand Perspective assess just my Apps.
What struck me first is an app I use every day for video editing, Final Cut Pro, is actually smaller than iPhoto, an app that I currently don’t use because it keeps crashing because it can’t find movies it thinks it has. This is not the iPhoto that handles GPS or does facial recognition, this iPhoto is several versions back. This is iPhoto 6 versus Final Cut Pro 6. Amazingly, iPhoto does less, it does it less reliably, and creates a mess of “organization” on my hard drive. Final Cut Pro can handle any video format (save 4k & 5K video) that I throw at it, handle multi-layer video and audio mixing, real-time effects and a whole lot more, and FCP is smaller than iPhoto. Or look at it this way, FCP is designed to process THIRTY 2 MP images very single second, iPhoto only has to show me one at a time, nothing is real-time in iPhoto, and FCP is smaller.
Interestingly, Final Cut Express (which I am using for a client who can’t afford the Final Cut Studio to cut some video but who strongly believed that video had to be cut on a Mac) is clearly smaller than FCP, even though it offers about 80% of the functionality. Apparently, coming out later and getting a good paring down make FCE an even leaner, meaner editor. Then let’s look at iMovie HD (not the current version of iMovie, the source for FCPx) This older version is just a fraction of FCE and FCP, yet handles the same HD formats, renders to Apple Intermediate Codec in the background while capturing from tape, and you never have to stop and wait for a render bar for a transition, effect or title like you do with FCP. In fact, iMovie has never required an editor to stop editing and stare at a progress bar even when it was 1999 and iMovie 1 ran in OS-9 on a fanless G3/400Mhz iMac DV. Real-time background rendering was in our hands before OS-X ever showed up on our doorstep. Yet that processing horsepower is just a fraction of the code of Final Cut Pro? Now I’m curious how big iMovie 1 was compared to FCP-7, which still can’t do background rendering in the “modern” OS-X.
Next, compare Apple’s poorly named Mail program (never, call an app the generic name of what it handles… FCP is not called “Video.” “Mail” would more aptly be called “Mailbox”) to Thunderbird, a free, open source mail program that I am using because Apple’s Mail(box) constantly hangs. The Firefox browser is has less code than Safari, but I think Safari is faster. I use Firefox because Safari wouldn’t handle WordPress authoring pages correctly.
I was stunned that Color, which was originally a multi-thousand dollar app called Final Touch from Silicon Color, is smaller than iChat. – iChat!- Again, processing two 4:2:2 simultaneous color space vectors on 2K HD video footage in real time somehow requires less coding than iChat? Or even iCal- Apple’s calendering application? Color was authored elsewhere, bought by Apple, and inserted into Final Cut Studio. An Apple authored calendaring app is bigger. You really have to wonder what all is in these Apple-cations that makes them so big.
One last dichotomy. Apple’s Preview app is the size of Google Earth. Google Earth will pull massive amounts of visual data across the web and process it in real time to allow you to fly around the world and examine nearly any point with minute detail, Preview shows a single photo or PDF at a time. Sure I can do some basic brightness & contrast, sharpening in Preview, but does it really take as much coding and horsepower as Google Earth? Take a look up a little bit and see how small Adobe Photoshop is. This is just CS2 Photoshop, but still, Preview is pretty darn close in size for but a tiny fraction of capability.
Adobe Bridge & Photoshop combined do not equal even half the code of iPhoto. Yet I think few would think iPhoto does more than Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Bridge combined, aside from being connected tot he Apple store to order a photo book.
So I was pretty shocked by the sizes of the apps here. If you’d like to check out your Macintosh app folder, you can download Grand Perspective for free like 500,000 other people have.
It really helps put things in grand perspective (and helped me figure out where all my hard drive space went, and what I need to delete!)