Can This Leopard Change Your OS?
By Jeffrey Allen
Big changes in the Apple line have garnered considerable attention, drawn speculation, and will continue to draw more attention in the near future. In the last several months, Apple upgraded many of its hardware offerings again. In one fell swoop it replaced its entire iPod line in September. Shortly before that it moved the iMac from the Intel Core Duo processor to the newly released Intel Core 2 Duo processor. The Mac Pro desktop units all use the even more powerful and faster Intel Dual-Core Xeon “Woodcrest” processors. The Mac Minis continue to use the Core Duo processor. Eventually they too will likely have Core2 Duo processors, but probably not until early next year (perhaps in conjunction with MacWorld in January). Apple’s laptops all run on the Core Duo processors as well. Intel has now released the laptop version of the Core 2 Duo, and many computer manufacturers have already released Core2 Duo units. Apple will undoubtedly upgrade the MacBook Pro to the Core2 Duo processor within the next several months. The MacBooks will probably follow some time after that.
Apple has not contentedly rested upon its laurels for some time. While making all the hardware upgrades, Apple had its programmers diligently working on the development of the newest cat on the block, Leopard. Apple has chosen the Leopard as the cat du jour for the next iteration of OS X. As regularly happens as we approach Apple’s announced release time for a system upgrade, lots of people have started speculating about what it will contain and when Apple will release it. Typically, close-mouthed Apple has not updated its “spring 2007” release. But remember that Apple stunned everyone by coming out with the MacIntel versions of its computers much earlier than the time period it originally announced. Remember how Apple likes to contrast itself to the operations of other and bigger companies. We have all heard of the delays in the release of the next iteration of the Windows operating system (code named Vista). Also remember how Steve Jobs loves to take center stage at MacWorld and demonstrate the latest and greatest whiz-bang stuff from Apple and almost always introduces something striking. With that in mind, I would not find it at all surprising if when MacWorld comes to San Francisco in January 2007, Steve demonstrates the new features of the Leopard version of Mac OS X on a MacBook Pro running an Intel Core2 Duo processor. Nor would I find it surprising if he announced after the demonstration that Apple had both available immediately, thus beating its own announced release date and by so doing contrasting itself to other companies.
Although Apple does not like to give out much in the way of advance information about future product changes, it has released considerable information about Leopard and its new features. Months ago it announced the inclusion of Boot Camp in the Leopard version of the operating system; it even released a public Beta version of Boot Camp to ensure that users (like attorneys), who may have need to occasionally use a Windows-based program, could do so on the Intel-based Macs because Virtual PC does not run on the Intel processors.
Apple has now modified its website to provide a fairly detailed preview of what it considers the most significant (or at least the most appealing and exciting). Apple has created a tutorial showing off some of Leopard’s bells and whistles: www.apple.com/macosx/leopard/index.html. Apple has also created Quicktime videos of many of its feature explanations.
In addition to the previously announced Boot Camp, Apple will introduce Time Machine, Spaces, and Core Animation in Leopard. It will also update and improve Mail, iChat, Dashboard, Spotlight, and iCal.
Leopard draws on the power of 64-bit computing.Leopard delivers 64-bit power in one universal OS. Cocoa and Carbon application frameworks, graphics, scripting, and the rest of the system are all 64-bit. Leopard delivers 64-bit power to both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs, so you don’t have to install separate applications for different machines.
- Core Animation takes advantage of the dual core processors capabilities to allow easy creation of impressive animations. Both the new Time Machine and the Spaces features of the system use the core animation technology.
- Time Machine incorporates back up capabilities into the operating system itself. It senses the addition of a second drive and immediately asks if you want to back up to that drive. After making the initial backup, the system keeps the backup current by backing up any changes you make to your files. Note that it does not replace what was in the previous backup, however. It merely takes the changed files and moves them into a backup location. Time Machine maintains the history of your computer and its files by date, allowing you to go back in time to see what you had on any given date. If you mistakenly deleted a file or a folder, the software allows you to restore them. All you have to do is browse through the history, find it and restore it. Time Machine also lets you restore your entire system.
- Mail will have a handful of new features. Mail will have stationery templates allowing you to build your own stationery; you can even include pictures as a part of the letterhead by accessing iPhoto through the Mail media browser. The new Notes feature allows you to take notes about events, directions, or whatever information you wish to record and store it as email. You can even create To-Do’s in Mail, manage them in Mail, and have them also appear in iCal.
- iChat improvements will allow picture-in-picture framing and the ability to create a virtual backdrop by subimposing a picture behind the image in the camera using the built-in cameras on most of the new computers. Just for fun, Apple has included the ability to distort the images on the screen, making them appear much as they might in a fun house mirror. Screen sharing may prove the most useful and significant innovation in iChat. It allows you to take over and operate a remote computer. This feature offers tremendous possibilities for collaborative work as well as for solving a problem on your secretary’s computer, while you are several time zones away. iChat also includes a theater feature, which, in conjunction with iPhoto, lets you do a presentation online.
- Spaces will help you organize your desktop. It allows you to see windows for all open applications on one screen at one time or one at a time; clicking the dock icon for an open application takes you to its window. When you have the windows for all open applications on the screen, you can rearrange them using a simple drag and drop. You can drag applications into specific spaces, effectively creating multiple desktops for convenience and organization.
- Dashboard will let you create a widget from any web page. You can include multiple pages as well. By creating widgets for websites that you frequently visit, the widgets can function as a favorites listing of bookmarks to enable quick and easy access to your frequented websites. Dashboard now syncs through .mac to allow easy updating of all your computers. Leopard also includes Dashcode, a widget creation program allowing beginners to create workable widgets. Dashcode includes a number of widget templates. After selecting a template, you fill in the missing pieces and you have a working widget. Once you have created a widget, you can use it yourself and/or transfer it to other computers. If you create one that may have common interest, you can try submitting it to the Dashboard Widget download site at Apple.com.
- Spotlight in Leopard will not only search your computer, it will also search other computers on your network for you. The new version of Spotlight will include a feature called “Quick Look.” Quick Look will let you preview a document, picture, or sideshow with a single click without opening an application. Leopard enhances Spotlight search syntax, allowing you to search for more specific sets of things and to include specific file attributes such as author, type, or keyword in the search. It will also support the use of Boolean logic so that you can use “and,” “or,” and “not” to narrow your search.
Apple sells Tiger for $129 for a single copy or $199 for a family pack. Apple has not announced a price for Leopard yet, but I would be surprised if it was much higher than that. Historically Apple users have reacted to new operating systems by acquiring them as soon as possible. I have no reason to think the release of Leopard will receive a different reaction. I look forward to the opportunity to get the new features myself. One thought, however—if you plan to purchase a new computer early next year, you might wait to see when Leopard comes out as, if Apple follows previous release patterns, you will get it at no additional cost with your new computer purchase, thus saving the price of a new operating system.
- iCal will allow participation of others in calendaring events through the calendar sharing features of Leopard. The new version of iCal will support the CalDAV standard. Auto Schedule allows the comparison of several iCal calendars in scheduling an event so as to determine the best time for all attendees. In Leopard, iCal will have an event drop box that will allow anyone attending an event to share documents, contacts, presentations, pictures, etc. with other attendees by dragging them into the drop box. If you use an iCal server to schedule your event the attendees having access to the server can simply pick up the documents. If you do not have an iCal server, you can still drop files into an event’s drop box and then distribute them to the attendees by sending invitations that contain the contents of the drop box. Of course, you can still keep your computers current by syncing your calendars through .mac. You can also set up an iCal server allowing the sharing of iCal calendars in workgroups, throughout a business organization, or among family members.
Jeffrey Allen firstname.lastname@example.org has a general practice in Oakland, California. His firm, Graves & Allen, emphasizes real estate and business transactions and litigation. He is a frequent speaker and author on technology topics and the Editor-in-Chief of the GPSolo Technology & Practice Guide and the Technology eReport.