Mac OS X’s built-in applications: No room for the third-party competitors?

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
November 1st, 2004 • 6:17 am

With Mac OS X, Apple has been providing a variety of basic office management tools, most notably iCal for calendar events/appointments, and Address Book for contact information management. Apple has also made the data recorded by these tools available to third-party applications. For example, we now have a variety of third-party tools that let us print envelopes and labels using Address Book’s contact data, and several e-mail programs can use the e-mail addresses stored in Address Book entries as well.

Yet, I think it is quite obvious that Apple has not put too much effort into the design of the iCal and Address Book applications. Their interface is rather frustrating, with non-standard behaviours such as using the Escape key (!) to validate address book data entry in Address Book, and a dire lack of advanced editing tools and features. (Address Book has no search/replace function, for example.)

It seems to me that there might be a market for third-party applications that would use (and preserve the integrity of) the Address Book and iCal data, but would also let users do more advanced things with the data. Personally, I would gladly pay $10 for an Address Book-based tool that would behave more like a proper database-drive application and give me a proper search/replace function as well as a more user-friendly data editing interface.

Of course, it would have to maintain 100% integration with Address Book and iCal, by using the same data structure. The question is whether Apple lets third-party applications not only access the Address Book and iCal data, but also edit the data. If the data can only be read and not edited, I guess there is no hope.

5 Responses to “Mac OS X’s built-in applications: No room for the third-party competitors?”

  1. Zach says:

    Address Book data is fully accessible and editable by third party app writers. Apple provides a nice API for doing just that.

  2. ssp says:

    As Zach said: The address book is fully accessible to other applications for reading and writing. Even better: Other applications can add their own data to your contacts if they wish. For example our GeburtstagsChecker birthday reminder application will first extract all birthday data from the address book. You can then deactivate birthdays which you don’t want to be reminded of [*]. To do this, GeburtstagsChecker simply stores a tag in the address book so it is right with the contact information itself.

    While the address book application is crap (I just cursed it – and waited long times for it – a lot today), I imagine that it’s very lightweight and free interface might be a bit painful to program. Which is why nobody else wanted to spend time on it…

    [*] This is at least useful for people like myself who store the data of their class at school in the address book to generate our website from it – but don’t want to be reminded of the birthdays of people we’d never talk to.

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    Glad to hear the AB data is editable, and even expandable. Which means that there is definitely room for third-party competitors.

  4. martin says:

    take a look at

  5. Pierre Igot says:

    Martin: I tried to download the trial version, but the disk image won’t mount. It says that it’s not recognized.

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