At its annual Worldwide Developer Conference Monday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs provided the final look at Mac OS X 10.5, code-named “Leopard,” before the new operating system ships in October. He demoed 10 out of what he says are 300 new features.
22 million people are currently using Mac OS X, Jobs said, with two-thirds of that number running Tiger. Leopard will be the next major upgrade to Apple’s platform, bringing a number of new and innovative features. WWDC is the first chance for developers to really sink their teeth into those changes.
First on the list is a completely new desktop for Leopard. The menu bar is now translucent and the Mac OS X dock has a 3D look that reflects. The “brushed metal” theme has been dropped altogether for the new subdued grey that deubted in Apple’s latest iLife applications.
A featured called Stacks lets users group documents or applications in the dock, with a default stack listing the latest downloads. The newest document automatically appears at the front of the stack, and Apple’s Core Animation framework is used to spice things up.
To great applause from WWDC attendees, Jobs also took the wraps off a new Finder for Leopard. Finder is essentially the Windows Explorer for Apple’s operating system, but it has long been chastised by users for its sluggishness and limited feature set. The update makes it easier to browse other Macs even if they are not on the same network using a feature called “Back to My Mac.” Apple’s Coverflow technology is also included for quickly browsing documents in a folder.
The third feature demoed by Jobs Monday was Quick Look, which provides live file previews without opening their associated applications. Number 4 and 5 on the list of Leopard improvements were 64-bit support from the kernel through the front-end interface (Tiger was only 64-bit at its UNIX core) and Core Animation, which debuted in Apple TV.
The sixth Leopard feature on display was Boot Camp, which has been built into the operating system and natively supports both Windows XP and Vista. Number 7 is a feature called Spaces, which was announced last year at WWDC. Spaces enables users to have multiple desktop workspaces in order to reduce clutter from having multiple applications open.
Dashboard has additionally been given an update for Leopard with the ability to click a “scissors” button in Safari and make part of all of a Web page into a widget. Apple is including a new widget in Leopard that displays movie times and trailers through a partnership with Fandango, although the company notes that developers have also built over 3,000 widgets on their own. A new development environment called DashCode will further aid that effort.
The ninth new feature demoed by Jobs was an overhauled version of iChat, which was first announced last year at WWDC. The update includes better audio quality with a new AAC-low delay codec (AAC-LD), tabbed chat windows, built-in PhotoBooth effects, and iChat Theater (for talking over slides like a presentation) with backdrop effects.
Lastly, Jobs again showed off Time Machine for Leopard, which is designed to help users prevent data loss. Only 26 percent of users back up in any fashion, and most simply drag files and folders to another drive. Leopard will automatically back up a Mac. If a file is changed, the older version is saved and can be restored at any time.
Files can be previewed without going through a full store, and the entire desktop can “warp” back to a place in time, much like Microsoft offers with its System Restore feature in Windows. Apple says Time Machine works great with Finder, but it is compatible with third party applications as well. The feature is compatible with network drives as well.
Set to launch in October, Leopard will be priced at $129 USD, just like previous Mac OS X releases. In a swipe against Microsoft and Windows Vista, Jobs explained the pricing behind Leopard: “Basic version, $129. Premium version, $129. Business version, $129, Enterprise version $129. Ultimate version, $129,” he said.
Developers will receive a full preview copy of Leopard at WWDC.
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