5 Things you may not have noticed about Leopard

I’m sure most of you who are reading this right now have already scoured the keynote coverage from earlier today, trying to seek out every last morsel of information. Well, so have I! Strangely, the real source of information wasn’t on stage, but rather on the apple site. Out of the 300+ new Leopard features Steve Jobs spoke about earlier, many can be found on the Apple Leopard Features Site. Below I’ve picked out five things you may have missed from today’s coverage.

  1. There can be many, many spaces – Over at the Spaces page, Spaces Preference Panethe screenshot showing the Systems Preferences Pane, as well as some of the other screens, show six spaces. Taking a closer look at the System Preferences Pane it’s clear that you can add, or remove, rows and columns. Looking at the buttons, they are clearly active so you can add at least one more row and at least one more column, bringing the total number of spaces to 12. I don’t know if this is the upper limit, or anywhere near the upper limit, or even if there is an upper limit, but most of the previous examples used just four spaces. You can also assign specific applications to specific spaces (so, say, Mail always occupies the lower left Space) and display something to do with Spaces in the menu bar.
  2. Automator is getting easier, and more complicated – I love Automator, it’s so easy to use yet very versatile and power. In Leopard, Automator Automatoris getting a new Record feature (a la Apple Script) which means almost any application can now be Automated. FireFox here we come! There also seems to be a feature that appears to be setting a context for your Automator action. So you decide at the outset whether you’ll be working with Photos and the actions available will be tailored to your needs. These two features will certainly make it easier for the average user to utilise Automator. At the other end the the spectrum, Automator will now be making use of variables that remain constant across actions, not something that could be done easily previously.
  3. You can now easily watch videos full screen out of the box – Many people are shocked that when you put down 1500 of your local currency for a new Mac, Quicktime won’t let you play videos full screen unless Quick Lookyou put down a few more coins, which is a shame. I showed you a workaround a while back, and you can also get around the limitation through iTunes. With the new Quick Look functionality, you can just click a button and expand the playing video to full screen. Just a shame it’s taken this long. Just a shame the Quick Look icon is more than reminiscent of the Big Brother logo.
  4. Two great new Safari features – Two things stand out about Safari 3, and I’m notSafari PDF Controls talking about the speed or clippings. Firstly, PDFs will be dealt with elegantly inline in Safari. I’m not sure about the rest of you but I cringe everytime I see a PDF link, maybe I can click them with impunity after this. Secondly, you can resize text boxes and other elements just by dragging the corners. Genius.
  5. Apps should be speedier – There’s this very cool new tool for developers called X-RAY. It adds this fantastic new ability to visualise application performance which should make it much, much easier to open bottle necks and optimise code. As with almost everything else on OSX, it looks stunning and appears to be insanely intuitive. Just don’t get it confused with the popular finder enhancement. Of course, even with a tool this cool, developers still have to use it. Of course, with better 64 bit and multi core support out of the box, even the worse app should at least feel a bit snappier.

So, are you excited? I’m currently downloading Safari, a browser I really want to love but can’t. Mainly because I can’t survive without the extensions in FireFox. Safari on Windows just seems wrong, although does a good job of demonstrating just how much the browser market has changed. Back at the start of this decade MS had to support IE for Mac because the demand for IE was in the ascendancy. Now, demand, respect and public opinion of IE is so low that Apple, Mozilla and Opera (amongst others) can compete with IE, and are together really pegging it back.