Previewed at WWDC, launching in the fall.
Panther Feature: 'Piles'
Of most interest is a description of a long-patented UI feature of Apple's... known as "Piles":
Apple holds a patent on this one. Developed by Gitta Salomon and her team close to a decade ago, a pile is a loose grouping of documents. Its visual representation is an overlay of all the documents within the pile, one on top of the other, rotated to varying degrees. In other words, a pile on the desktop looked just like a pile on your real desktop.
To view the documents within the pile, you clicked on the top of the pile and drew the mouse up the screen. As you did so, one document after another would appear as a thumbnail next to the pile. When you found the one you were looking for, you would release the mouse and the current document would open.
Piles, unlike today's folders, gave you a lot of hints as to their contents. You could judge the number of documents in the pile by its height. You could judge its composition very rapidly by pulling through it.
A recent Naked Mole Rat Report from MacEdition claims that Mac OS X 10.3 will bring us an implementation of Piles... along with some new dynamic featuers causing windows to "shrink and jump" in response to users' movements.
Of note, LoopRumors had recently claimed that Panther will be "unlike anything else" and raises hopes on the upcoming release.