September 04, 2009, 9:41 AM — One of the goals of Mac Gems is to find inexpensive software that makes Mac OS X even better--system tweaks and add-ons, productivity tools, and anything else that helps you get more out of your Mac. But as I've noted in the past, sometimes the features provided by third-party software are so useful that Apple decides they should be part of the OS itself. As a result, after every major new version of Mac OS X, I take a brief look at past Gems that are no longer necessary--or, at the very least, are less necessary for some people.
The good news for developers is that Snow Leopard focuses on under-the-hood changes, so it shouldn't kill off so many third-party products. Still, I've come up with a good number of Gems, listed below, whose developers may be feeling a bit nervous these days. Next to each item's name, I note whether the product's features are fully replaced by Snow Leopard's own, mostly replaced, or only partially so. Bonus: In comparing these Gems to Snow Leopard's functionality, chances are you'll learn about some of the new OS's lesser-known features.
Cameras (mostly): In Leopard and earlier, many people disliked the OS X feature that automatically opened iPhoto, Aperture, or another program whenever they connected a digital camera or media card. However, for some people the problem was that they wanted to open different apps for different devices. Cameras offers just such a feature, letting you choose which programs handle which devices, and can automatically download photos. In Snow Leopard, Apple finally offers a similar feature: launch OS X's Image Capture utility, connect a camera (or an iPhone or a memory card), and indicate which application should open the next time that device is connected. There's even an option to launch AutoImporter.app, a utility that automatically downloads the photos on the connected device to a folder called AutoImport in your Pictures folder. Cameras is still more attractive--I really like the previews as images are downloaded--but most of its functionality is now available right in the OS.