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Leopard's iChat Theater could change the way we do... well, everything

David Chartier

It's things like the iChat Theater page at Apple's Developer site that make me just fine with the delay of Mac OS X Leopard. They say 'good things come to those who wait,' but from what I'm reading at the iChat Theater page, that phrase is more like 'fantastic, amazing and mind-blowing things come to those who wait' when applied to the new technologies coming in Leopard. While most of that page is geared towards developers, offering things like code snippets to get them excited and motivated to build their apps to work with Leopard's iChat, the first two paragraphs are enough for 'the rest of us' to get a mouth-watering glimpse of just how much the new iChat could change the way we work and play once Leopard does arrive.

In short, iChat Theater is a new feature that will allow the broadcast of, and collaboration on, just about anything we do on our Mac. Of course, a developer will have to design their app specifically to incorporate these new features (hint: submitting feedback and feature requests is a good thing), but just consider the possibilities: instead of having to jam pack all your tech support calls into that once-or-twice-a-year family holiday trip, you can fire up Leopard's iChat and show mom and dad how to make a slideshow in iPhoto over the web, with both video and audio of yourself and iPhoto. Now expand a little: is your job on the verge of granting you telecommuting privileges? Or perhaps you're a teacher or a technology scout for an educational organization? This new Leopard feature opens doors much larger than the one for mom and pop; with iChat Theater, teachers and businessmen alike will be able to work their magic in entirely new ways, and not just with the tools Apple provides. The beauty of iChat Theater is that it's an open platform, so to speak; want to brainstorm in OmniGraffle with a colleague on the opposite side of the country? Need to teach a last-minute digital art class in Lineform for a friend halfway across the world? No sweat. Although I have no idea whether The Omni Group or Freeverse have already hopped on the iChat Theater bandwagon, plenty of comments and requests from their users could probably ensure they do.

iChat Theater is gonna be a big'un boys and girls, and I already have a couple handfuls of reasons as to why I can wait for Apple to take their time and (hopefully) get it right.

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