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Apple’s Newest Bells and Whistles

Some of the offerings to come next spring with the Leopard operating system.
August 8, 2006

Yesterday Apple announced a partial list of the features to come with the newest version of its operating system, Mac OS X Leopard, due next spring. The announcement was made at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco (August 7-11), where more than 4,000 software developers have gathered to talk shop.

Here’s a rundown of three improvements planned for Leopard. All 10 announced features can be found here – you may need to download the latest version of Quicktime to view some features.

– Boot Camp, the application that allows Windows to be run on a Mac, will be integrated into the new operating system. Currently, a test version of it is available for download at Apple’s site. Those who have an Intel-based Mac can use it to switch between Mac OS X and Windows on the same computer. With Boot Camp embedded into Leopard, Apple may be removing the long-standing barrier that has kept many people from buying Macs.

– Time Machine is a new application designed to make backing up a hard drive easier. According to Bertrand Serlet, senior vice president of software engineering at Apple, only about 26 percent of computer users back up their files, and only 4 percent use automated software to back up regularly. To keep all those photos and music files safe from a crash, Time Machine automatically saves everything – pictures, music, documents, applications – to an external hard drive or server. One can also pick and choose what to save, but the application’s default setting saves an extra copy of everything. The added feature here is the ability to access every version of a file ever saved. Time Machine also provides a neat interface that “zooms” back in time as one looks for, say, a specific file that was saved months ago.

– One of the useful advances in the previous Mac operating system, Tiger, is an application called Dashboard. It has “widgets” – tiny applications that might include, say, a dictionary, weather map, or sports scores. They provide instant information from the Internet without using a web browser. In Leopard, widgets will be customizable, so that any web page, or part of a page, can be turned into a widget. It can be used to get instant access to, for instance, New York Times best sellers, eBay auction updates, or live Web cams. – By Kate Greene

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