Based on recent precedent, we can reasonably anticipate Apple will be releasing OS X v10.9 sometime in 2013, probably before fall, with beta builds likely to begin surfacing soon. Apple has already used pretty much all of the major big cat names for the first eight full version revisions of OS X, so 10.9 will be called poses a conundrum for those of us who care about such matters.
To recap, OS X 10.0 was Cheetah, OS X 10.1 was Puma, 10.2 Jaguar, 10.3 Panther, 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard, 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.7 Lion, and 10.8 is Mountain Lion.
Last week, InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman posted a poll asking readers to volunteer their pick for the next OS X version name. Gruman suggests sabertooth, although he acknowledges that choosing an extinct species might be sending the wrong message. I’m also not enthusiastic about recycling cheetah, which was already used for OS X 10.1. Gruman mentions clouded leopard (as a tip of the hat to the iCloud era), but there already have been two leopard variants. Cougar would be a good choice were it not for some unfortunate pop-cultural vernacular usage connotations.
So what about one of the medium-sized wild feline predators like lynx, bobcat, or ocelot—compact but admirable wild felines whose names haven’t yet been applied to an OS X version? The last time I checked the poll results, Lynx was in the lead—the choice of about one-quarter of respondents and narrowly edging out second-place cougar.
However, my personal suggestion would be one that wasn’t included in Galen Gruman’s poll—wildcat—a name that has been popularly applied in parts of North America to mid-size cats like the lynx and bobcat collectively, but is actually the proper name of a distinct species (felis silvestris) of wild cats with 22 subspecies ranging throughout most of Africa, Europe, and southwest and central Asia, including India, China, and Mongolia.
Not formidable enough a feline? The wildcat name was used with distinction on the U.S. Navy’s most prolific carrier-based fighter aircraft of World War II—the Grumman F4F Wildcat—which was also flown (renamed the “Martlet”) by the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Of course, another option would be to switch to a different wild animal or raptor altogether. There is precedent. The original OS X public beta preview that Apple released on September 13, 2000 for $29.95 was internally codenamed “Kodiak,” the largest species of brown bear. And, of course, the way things have been going, Gruman notes with implied irony that the next OS X revision might simply be known as “iOS.”