Is the end near for System Preferences?

April 18, 2012

Table comparing settings / preferences on Apple platforms
One of these things seems out of place. Can you spot it?

When Mountain Lion was announced back in February, I enjoyed reading John Gruber’s Daring Fireball account of his advance peek of the upcoming OS, including this section:

“Apps have been renamed for cross-OS consistency. iChat is now Messages; iCal is now Calendar; Address Book is now Contacts. Missing apps have been added: Reminders and Notes look like Mac versions of their iOS counterparts. Now that these apps exist for the Mac, to-dos have been removed from Calendar and notes have been removed from Mail, leaving Calendar to simply handle calendaring and Mail to handle email.”

While I don’t believe that the Mac should become an iOS clone, I do think that natural similarities between the platforms should be emphasized.

This made me wonder about the fate of System Preferences.

In Leopard, the System Preferences icon on the Mac received a complete makeover, bringing it visually in line with the Settings icon of the original iPhone.  That was back in 2007.

For five years and two subsequent releases of OS X, we’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.  In that time, System Preferences has been dressing up like Settings, but hasn’t been willing to take on its name.  Will Mountain Lion retire the wordy “System Preferences” moniker and unify the naming of those icons across platforms?  Time will tell, but meanwhile, idle speculation over Apple matters large and small is always an enjoyable pastime.

Screen captures showing changes to the System Preferences icon in Mac OS X over time, asking the question ‘Has System Preferences reached the end of the line?’
The look of System Preferences over the years.