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August 28th, 2009
We’ve made a quick video to show some of the new Snow Leopard features. You can find our take on Snow Leopard below the video:
Mac OS X v10.6 (Codenamed: Snow Leopard) was announced on June 8th by Steve Jobs at the WWDC. Today it has been released. The upgrade is $29 for current Leopard single users and $49 for current Leopard family users with 5 licenses. Anyone running previous versions of OS X will need to purchase the Mac Box Set which will include a full copy of Snow Leopard, iLife ’09, and iWork ’09 for $169. This is the first Mac operating system to not support the older Motorola processors.
This new version of OS X focuses more on performance than new interface gadgets. It takes advantage of 64-bit processors, multi-core systems, and the instruction set provided by Intel processors over the older PowerPC architecture.
There are of course some improvements to the UI even though the main focus is on performance and efficiency.
You won’t see much difference in the interface with Snow Leopard over its predecessor. The small tweaks though seem to be pretty good. I was never a fan of stacks and thought it was implemented poorly especially when trying to navigate through subfolders. With the new implementation it works much easier to find a certain file through Stacks instead of having to go through a Finder window.
For the new Expose style implemented into the dock, it may take getting used to, but it could turn out to be very handy when working with multiple windows from the same application.
Finder does seem more responsive in our initial tests when listing folders with several items and calculating file sizes.
This feature has been highly requested in the business market. With support for Microsoft Exchange built in, this should help convince companies to make the switch over to Mac. Mail, Address Book, and iCal all have built in Microsoft Exchange support.
Most of the built-in OS X applications have been rebuilt to take advantage of the 64-bit system. iTunes, Front Row, and DVD Player have not been upgraded yet, but all other applications should see a large performance increase on 64-bit systems.
Most applications are not optimized yet for the 64-bit addressing, but we can definitely detect more snappiness with the built-in Apple applications. More benchmarks will need to be run to see the actual performance, but it looks promising.
Grand Central Dispatch
All current Macs have a multi-core processor, and with that, programmers can take advantage by sharing the workload across the two cores with parallel processing. Most developers do not bother due to the added hassle, but with Grand Central Dispatch this will make it extremely easy for developers to implement a multi-core application as it will do most of the work for you. Once the applications start coming in with this implemented, there should be a large performance increase.
Again, this will require the developers to start releasing applications that take advantage of this. It’ll just take some time for most applications to be running at their full potential. There is definitely a bright future though.
Most current machines come with a very good processor that is not even taken advantage of any everyday applications. This is the graphics processor. With OpenCL, applications will be able to offload complex functions and equations to the GPU and then send it back. This again will greatly improve performance in complex applications such as games, video, and graphic editors.
Unfortunately out initial test machine just has onboard Intel graphics, so any possible advantage from OpenCL will not be seen on this system. Once our employees start installing their own copies on their home machines geared more towards gaming we should have a clearer picture. This again, however, is another feature that will take time to mature and see the results. Developers have to program all of these new features in.
Apple released a new major version of QuickTime. This adds 64-bit support, HTTP live streaming, and many interface improvements.
The new QuickTime is one of the bigger things you’ll be able to play with right off the bat. The new smokey black interface is a nice change from the old brushed metal look of older versions. There are several new toys available now for people that did not have Pro versions before. You can export videos into other formats, do screen, audio, and video captures straight from the application, and you can upload to Youtube and other sites directly from the application.
Common Unix Printing System
CUPS as it is more commonly known will be updated to allow more compatibility with printers.
The detection and implementation of printers does seem to work better. The new printing system will also automatically update printer drivers for you, so you no longer have to go search manufacturer websites for updates when you have a problem.
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