Now that I've given in and decided that the PC Doc HQ is to get at least one Mac (what exactly I'm going to do with it remains a mystery, but that's not the point) I've been spending some time checking out what new features I can expect from Leopard. Apple has conveniently listed 300+ new Mac OS X Leopard features on a single page, and I have to say, Leopard sounds compelling ... in theory anyway.
Browsing through the 300+ new feature (well, OK, let's first admit that "new features" is marketing hyperbole, some of the features have just been re-tweaked and modified a little) I have to admit that I went "Wow!" more than once. In fact, I might as well come clean and admit that Leopard looks like it beats Vista in the "Wow!" department.
In case you missed that, let me repeat it again:
"Leopard looks like it beats Vista in the "Wow!" department."There, I said it again.
Here are just some of the features from the listing that caught my eye:
- Google Map Addresses View a detailed map of any address in Address Book. Just hold down the Control key while clicking any address and select “Map of” and Safari will show you its location in Google Maps. [Note that this is one of those re-tweaked features - I believe that this is already in OS X Address Book but uses MapQuest instead of Google Maps. But yeah, it's cool. Why can't Outlook Express/Windows Mail have this?]
- Scriptable System Preferences & Applications Do more with AppleScript. A number of system preferences in Leopard are now scriptable, including the Dock, Security, Exposé, Accounts, and Networking — as well as a number of features in iChat.
- Updated Folder Action Support Enjoy greater reliability with folder actions, which are triggered by the file system instead of the Finder. Folder actions now have their own server, and each folder action now runs its own copy of the new Folder Actions Dispatcher application. [This sounds like a really awesome and highly useful feature.]
- UI Recording and Playback Add even more capabilities to your workflows. Use a new action called Watch Me Do that lets you record a user action (like pressing a button or controlling an application without built-in Automator support) and replay as an action in a workflow.
- Copy Files Between Mac OS X and Windows Copy, open, modify, or delete files in Mac OS X that you saved to your Windows partition. Leopard understands the Windows FAT32 disk format. [I was hoping that this feature would appear because otherwise having two OSes was pretty useless.]
- Microsoft WHCL-Certified Windows Drivers Enjoy the unique hardware features of your Mac including the iSight camera, trackpad scrolling, keyboard backlighting, and volume keys using fully compatible Windows drivers. [When I last used Boot Camp, the Windows drivers for the Mac hardware were, well, putting it kindly, execrable. Also, as ShadeTree points out, Apple has made a mistake here - the drivers are WHQL-certified, not WHCL. Hey, don't blame me, I didn't write the marketing material! ;-)]
- Improved Full-Screen Interface Enjoy DVD Player’s dramatic new full-screen interface, which puts all your DVD’s features right at your fingertips. Mouse over the top or bottom regions to access onscreen semitransparent displays for a wealth of controls and settings. [Sounds like this hands-down beats Vista.]
- Time Skip Skip ahead or skip back five seconds to replay that moment you missed or just see something one more time. [Nice, very nice!]
- Scratched Disc Recovery Smoothly play back even DVDs that may be damaged. New technology in Leopard can locate and avoid scratched areas of the disc. [Another cool feature.]
- Icon Preview See files for what they really are. Leopard displays icons that are actual thumbnail previews of the documents themselves. [Believe it or not, this sounds like a really useful feature, especially if you're like me and don't always give files meaningful names.]
I've limited myself to ten features here but I could have easily picked a couple of dozen more features that sound interesting and useful and that made me utter a low "Wow!" It seems that being in a distant second place in the OS market is actually making Apple work hard to come up with new ideas and innovative features.
Sure, I'm reading a web page here and I've been exposed to enough marketing material to know that there can be a huge gulf between what something says it will do in theory and how it behaves in practice and that there's a good chance that while these features will exist in Leopard that not all will operate or behave the way I expect them to. I'd be a total bozo if I didn't expect some level of compromise or disappointment (*cough* ... Safari ... *cough*). But at least these features are there and I feel that Apple is trying to build an all-inclusive OS and that in order to get what I want I don't have to choose from a bouquet of OS options.