The Macintosh, commonly known as the Mac, is a range of personal computers developed by Apple Inc. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) of the Mac’s Operating System version 10.4 is referred to as Aqua. It is the successor of Platinum which was used in Mac version 8 and 9. As is suggested by the names, Aqua GUI is based on the theme of water. It makes use of droplet-like-elements and also avails of reflective and translucent effects. In the words of Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc., “One of the design goals (of Aqua GUI) was when you saw it, you wanted to lick it”.
The water themed user interface first made its introduction at the January 2000 Macworld Conference and Expo, San Francisco. The debut appearance of the Aqua GUI in a commercial product was during the July 2000 release of the iMovie 2. In that the scroll bar and the buttons had the Mac Operating Systems’ all-new Aqua look. Its second appearance was in the Mac OS X Public Beta in September of the same year. This was followed by a feature in iTunes in January the following year. Aqua was made Mac’s official graphical user interface after the release of the Mac OS X. The two basic colours which highlight Aqua’s style are blue and white.
Two of the main features of the Aqua GUI are:
- The gel-like buttons that control wind, which come in red, yellow and green colours.
- The dock which helps to launch and navigate between applications. David Pogue, a technology columnist for the New York Times, described the scrollbars as “lickable globs of Crest Berrylicious Toothpaste Gel”.
The brushed metal windows and the standard pinstriped are the two basic types of windows that come with Aqua. Both these styles seem to have the navigational button embedded into the window but in versions of Mac before 10.2, the buttons appear on top of the pinstriped windows.
As newer versions are released, the Aqua GUI has been made increasingly subtle. For instance the pinstripes have been made fainter. Also the menus as well as the system dialogs have been made more translucent. Even the appearances of the buttons and the widgets have been made softer.
Quartz Compositor which handles the underlying graphics management of the user interface powers Aqua.
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