OK, I’ll start. It’s a tie between Safari 3.x and Mail. Safari because it’s slow, and temperamental - I’ll do the slow and temperamental around here, thank you very much - and so much worse than the boring-but-at-least-it-worked 2.x. Mail for pretty much the same reasons, and especially because it’s the poor man’s GMail.
Mail is awful. Safari is tolerable, mostly because it works with the new multi-touch trackpad motions and Firefox doesn’t. I’m not a huge iChat fan either.
I think Mail and Safari are both pretty good, especially considering how bad the competition is and how young they both are. But that’s it — “pretty good”. Neither is great. But my standard may be a little different than yours — I don’t believe anyone has made a truly great web browser or desktop email client. (Having used each of them for long periods, I can confidently say this at least about Eudora, Outlook Express, Outlook, Thunderbird, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Camino, and Safari. Some, like Lotus Notes and Opera, were so awful that I couldn’t use them for long enough periods.)
My vote goes to iCal. It’s not that it’s bad — it’s just inexcusably mediocre for such a simple program. It takes a lot of effort and money to truly improve on mail clients and web browsers, but improving iCal should be cheap and easy — Apple just never seems to think it’s worth the resources, receiving almost no meaningful improvements since its 2002 release. The only significant update was in Leopard a year ago, but this only yielded two major changes:
- Two-way synchronizing with CalDAV. This is great when multiple people need to edit one calendar, such as an executive and an assistant, or a team of people organizing events.
- Moving the “drawer” event-editing interface into an annoying popup, introducing even more interface quirks and unnecessary clicks.
Many simple interface adjustments and minor feature additions could make iCal much better, but for some reason, they just don’t happen.