Leopard - Worth the wait?
If you haven’t heard of Apple’s latest Operating system, have a look at Wikipedia Article on Mac OS X Leopard. Here are some of the features:
- Time Machine: an automated backup utility which allows the user to restore files that have been deleted or replaced by another version of a file.
- Front Row currently only available with the purchase of a new Mac, but will be included with Leopard. It has been reworked to closely resemble the interface used by the Apple TV.
- Photo Booth, currently only available with the purchase of a new Mac, but will be included with Leopard.
- Spaces: an implementation of “virtual desktops” (individually called “spaces”), allowing users to have multiple desktops per user and be able to place certain applications and windows in a desktop. Users can organize certain Spaces for certain applications (i.e., one for work-related tasks and one for entertainment) and switch between them. Exposé will work inside Spaces, allowing the user to see at a glance all desktops on one screen.)
- Spotlight incorporates additional search capabilities such as Boolean operators, as well as the ability to search other computers (with permissions).
- Redesigned Finder: a redesigned Finder based on iTunes 7.
- New Desktop: a redesigned desktop, which is comprised of a redesigned 3-D dock which uses a new feature called Stacks, as well as a new menu-bar which adapts itself to the desktop so menu-bar text is easily readable.
- Quick Look This allows documents to be viewed without actually opening them in an external application.
- Universal access: significant improvements to applications including VoiceOver, along with increased support for Braille, closed captioning and a new text-to-speech engine.
- Enhancements to Mail including the additions of RSS feeds, Stationery, Notes, and to-dos. To-dos use a system-wide service that is available to all applications.
- Dashboard enhancements, including Webclip, a feature that allows users to turn a part of any web page into a live Dashboard widget, and Dashcode to help developers code widgets.
- iChat enhancements, including multiple logins, animated icons, and tabbed chats, similar to features present in Pidgin, Adium and the iChat plugin Chax; iChat Theater, allowing users to incorporate images from iPhoto, presentations from Keynote, and videos from QuickTime into chats; and Backdrops, which are similar to chroma keys, but use a real-time difference matte technique which does not require a green or blue screen. iChat will also implement desktop sharing, a feature previously available with Apple Remote Desktop.
- Enhancements to Parental controls include the ability to place restrictions on use of the Internet and to set parental controls from anywhere using remote setup.
- iCal calendar sharing and group scheduling.
- Leopard will also include the software assistant known as Boot Camp, which has been available as a beta release download for Mac OS X v10.4 from Apple’s website since April 5, 2006.This assists the installation of Windows XP or Windows Vista to a separate partition (or separate internal drive) on Intel-based Macs.
- Menu Bar The new menu bar is now transparent and is no longer rounded like all previous Mac OS versions.
- Safari 3.0 will be included.
While some seem to be not impressed by Leopard, it is by all accounts an OS upgrade, with every major application recieving attention. To me I am overjoyed the finder is getting a revamp, though I am not certain following iTunes layout is such a good idea. I think this is Steve Jobs (CEO. Apple Inc) idea to “switch” windows people since they already use iTunes, although I am not sure it is the right path. I choose Mac OS X because its unique, it has a fresh take on how a user interacts with a computer, moreso than Linux (which adopts tried and true in the case of Gnome and KDE), and certainly Windows which has only tweaked the look since Windows 95: its the same concept. The fanning out of dock icons, and grouping them won’t be used by the vast majority of users: its the same reason they don’t use “smart” folders: its a feature that has little in the way of wide appeal. I know the same can be said of the dashboard, and I personally will most likely end up buying and using fanning out and collections in Leopard, but my experience of novices is that they are afraid of the unknown.
Perhaps why I wrote this is that I don’t understand what people really expected from Apple. Comments such as “everything in Leopard has been done before”, well I think this statement is true of every consumer Operating System: things (generally) don’t get tried out on novice users. So back to my question: is it worth the wait? Look at the above list and decide for yourself. I feel Tiger is good enough (then again Technology never stays still, Bill Gates “128K RAM is good enough for anyone should tell us that), and I predict Leopard will face adoption like Windows does: Tech buffs will buy the boxed retail version (I include myself in this), while everybody else will get it through a new computer purchase.