I finally had a chance to watch the Mac OS X Leopard Guided Tour over the weekend, and it looks awesome! There were many features presented in the tour that will most likely change the way people use their Macs. Here are some of the new features that I’m excited about.
Stacks is a new Dock feature that allows users to quickly and easily view folder contents directly from the Dock. I see this as a great way to group files that need to be accessed often. As presented in the tour, it also makes a lot of sense to have a Stack for downloads so you can easily get to the most recently downloaded files without cluttering your desktop. Although it may take a little while for people to change their habits to take full advantage of Stacks, it will be a feature that people will really appreciate.
Quick Look is a new view within the Finder that allows users to preview certain types of files directly in the Finder. When you have several files in a folder that have similar names, Quick Look will make it very easy to find the right file. My only concern about this feature is that it may perform slowly on my poor old Power Mac G4. If the performance is good, I look forward to using this new feature to find my files.
Time Machine is the new backup feature built right in to the operating system. This one feature alone gives me enough reason to upgrade to Leopard. Having a solid backup routine is so important, and most people don’t do it because it is so confusing or time consuming to do correctly. Time Machine takes all of the guess work out of backup by performing hourly backups in the background. I think people will appreciate this new feature more than anything else included in Leopard especially when they go through a drive failure. As they say, it’s not if a drive will fail, it is when.
I really like the new version of Mail. For new users, the smart setup utility will make it incredibly easy to add new mail accounts. For services like Gmail, Yahoo, and .Mac, all you need to know is your email address and password to set up the account in Mail. This is a huge step forward for the less technically inclined out there. The new Notes and To Do features will make it easier to keep track of those types of things without having to send emails to yourself. I do this constantly so I know I will use this feature. The new Stationary templates also look really nice for the times when you want to add a little something extra to emails.
One thing that concerns me is that these cool new features will not make it into the .Mac web interface. As far as I am concerned, all features that are available in the desktop client should also be available in the web interface. If there is not a huge .Mac update on Friday, I will be very disappointed.
The new version of iChat looks fantastic! Sharing iPhoto Events and Keynote Presentations directly in iChat will make it possible to have very interactive online video meetings. It also looks like any file type supported by Quick Look can also be shared in iChat.
The new Backdrops will be really fun to use. Instead of showing the world my mess of an office, I can show cool patterns or even images. I will use this feature a lot!
Finally, Screen Sharing will make it insanely easy to collaborate with others online. I see this as a great way to work with others on projects as well as provide technical support to my family. I hope my Mac has enough horsepower to make all of these features work.
Leopard looks to be a very significant update to Mac OS X that will keep Apple at the forefront of operating system design. Thanks to Apple’s release schedule, it’s like getting a brand new Mac every year or so. This time, though, we may actually have to get a new Mac to take advantage of all of these cool new features. Damn you Apple for making me want to spend more money! 🙂