Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sherlock: why doesn't Apple kill it?

My new MacBook, I realized, has Sherlock on it. Version 3.6.2. Universal!

It even still works a bit. Some of the standard channels are no longer available, but others work. It was a bit flaky -- sometimes the channel add menus were grayed out, but then all but 'add channel' became available.

It's useless though. I reread the last Sherlock blurb Apple did (Jaguar):
nterested in going to a movie tonight or this weekend? The Movie channel lets you browse among movie title or nearby theaters, and it will show you everything from theater locations to show times, ratings, run times, summaries, and trailers, all in a single window that lets you switch instantly among the possibilities. The Stock channel keeps a list of what you look up so you can click among them for the current price, a performance graph you can change the time line for on the fly via a popup menu, and a list of news headlines you can browse, reading the stories in the pane below. Want to follow the story to its web page? A double click will take you there. ..

... It’s best, though, to think of Sherlock as a service provider that just happens to use your browser to fetch web pages as one of the services it provides. Need something translated from one language to another? Ask Sherlock. Want a real dictionary definition of a word alongside a real thesaurus listing of related words? Ask Sherlock. Wish you could use the yellow pages without wrestling with all that floppiness and weight, and instantly see a location map for each entry you browse? Ask Sherlock. And you can look forward to asking Sherlock to perform more and more services for you as time goes by.
These examples still work, but FeedReaders work much better for scanning news, and it's hard to remember to use Sherlock when it's easier to fire up Google for everything else. We live in our browsers now, Sherlock is a relic of another era.

Now Sherlock merely confuses novices; it looks and feels decrepit. Apple needs to take it out of the OS distribution.

Update 12/9/06: The Backpackit widget finally got me using the OS X Dashboard. I actually kind of like them now, there are a handful I find useful (check out this list). Widgets have replaced the parts of Sherlock that were actually useful. Apple should do a Dashboard page called "Sherlock replacement" and host Widgets there that do what Sherlock once did.

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