Leopard - What We Know & What We Can Expect
When Steve Jobs showed off a list of features from Leopard last year, the Mac community began to stir with excitement whilst combining a hint of anxiety. The excitement came from the pretty cool new things we can expect to see, Spaces and Time Machine for example, however, the anxiety came from the fact that Apple hadn’t really shown off anything to actually justify upgrading to Leopard – although I don’t doubt that thousands of you will be upgrading regardless.
As many of you should now know, the Macworld Conference and Expo is taking place at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco next Monday, with Steve Jobs taking centre stage on Tuesday morning to deliver a keynote that will all hope hasn’t been marred by all the speculation of an iPod phone device. However, amongst the rumours there’s also the inevitable mention of Leopard and today I’m going to take a look at what we know is coming and, according to recent reports, what we can expect to be mentioned on Tuesday morning.
What we know
Time Machine is Apple’s answer to an automated backup solution that allows users to restore any file that has been deleted or misplaced in the past. It features a pretty UI to make things easier and seems to resemble a vortex in space, which if you take a look at recent pictures you’ll see I’m not too wrong. The one catch of this feature is that you will need an external hard-drive to make use of it (not much point in making a backup on the same hard-drive), but with so many old iPods lying around these days, maybe we’ll be allowed to make use of those instead?
Mail 3.0 is the hopeful update to the brilliantly simple Mail 2.0 that we see sitting on our install of Tiger at the moment. Some features Jobs mentioned last year included a built in RSS reader, To-Do list, Notes, and fancy pants e-mail templates – the latter of which I am actually impressed with, regardless of whether it has been done before on other e-mail applications or not.
iChat is a program that has the potential to be something great, but Apple are, for whatever reason, holding back on us. In this update we hope to see video backdrops to make it appear as though we are elsewhere (looks nice) in video conferences, effects brought in from Photo Booth, Remote Access to allow users to share your desktop and vice versa, the ability to show keynote slides to your friends and, a saving grace for many, tabbed chatting. Have you noticed that most of the stuff I’ve mentioned so far is just a novelty that will soon wear off?
Spaces is virtual desktops with a fancy name and a pretty UI, and it’s something I can see as being a huge hit. No longer do you have to clutter your desktop with window upon window when you can instead organise your OS X desktop just like your actual desk. Keep all your development programs open in one window, all your communication programs open in another and, let iTunes play its heart out in another – a great way to organise, don’t you think?
Dashboard hasn’t actually received an update that you’d notice right away, it’s the Widgets that’ll make it shine. The main updated feature is the ability to create your own widgets that update automatically. See a cartoon strip section on a website you like, create a widget with a simple one-two click and every day your widget will update with the latest cartoon. Crazy huh!?
A few of the other main updates apparently coming to Leopard include Spotlight, iCal, new Accessibility options, 64-bit support and Core Animation, something that I’m pretty sure was just thrown in there to add up the numbers – it’s pretty useless.
What we can expect?
According to a recent article by MacOSXRumors, there’s a few more features that Jobs is expected to announce come Tuesday. You’ll have to consider the source first though before deciding whether or not you want to take this seriously, but most of it seems pretty reasonable. I’d also like to add that I personally expect Jobs to announce a lot more than what is featured below, plus surprising us with a launch date sooner than that of what we expected.
Resolution Independence is something that will benefit all of you. Whenever you change your screen resolution, you’ll notice that things either become a lot bigger or too small, so small infact that you really have to squint to read it – this is taking aim mainly at notebook owners. Resolution Independence hopes to eliminate this problem but until Jobs announces it (if he does), I’m unsure how. This feature was hinted back in November 2005 and has been talked about quite a bit on the internet since then. It’s not until Apple recently filed a patent for this feature that made it one of the more likely rumours. TUAW.com wrote up an article a while back going a bit more in-depth with Resolution Independence.
ZFS Support - Please don’t get put off by the horrible looking acronym. ZFS is a 128-bit file system developed by Sun Microsystems and is supposed to be coming to Leopard. It was designed with storage servers in mind and because of this is incredibly reliable. However, MacOSXRumors say that support on OS X is limited as “it is not possible to use it for the boot partition”. Because of this I’m not so sure this will make a feature in OS 10.5.
QuickTime is set to be given an update, one that will hopefully cure the recently found bugs in it. The only major GUI difference in this version of QuickTime is apparently an improvement made to the AV controls.
Parental Controls finally get an update although to what extent I’m unsure. It seems so far that logs and reports can now be generated from when a restricted user was last on the computer – thus being able to keep an eye on what your kids are up to.
MacOSXRumors have also stated an update in File Recovery that apparently allows file recovery to take place through disk utility, searching a lost file by type. Whether this features is actually there and is part of Time Machine, or just a badly drawn rumour I cannot say – but then that’s why it’s called a rumour so we can all speculate a little.
These are some of the main rumours being listed at the minute, with an iChat answering machine being included somewhere down that list. As you can see there’s nothing to really warrant an upgrade at the minute so I do hope Apple are planning to show more than this on Tuesday. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see. What do you expect or hope to see in Leopard?