Apple previews Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard at WWDC
The big 10 new features (with more secret ones promised) can be previewed at Apple's new Leopard preview site, complete with video tutorials. If you're not down for watching all those videos though, I'll summarize some of the big ones for your shortcut pleasure.
First up is probably Time Machine, one of the most significant new features and arguably interesting new UIs from Apple's side of the fence. You really kinda need to watch the video to get the gist of what's going on here, but Time Machine is a lot like the that 'Previous Versions' feature Microsoft just made a recent surprise announcement about. Mac OS X Leopard will keep track of not only individual file and folder versions and back them up on the fly, but it will also keep track of files and entries in databases, such as iPhoto images and Address Book contacts that get deleted. Users can restore files across the entire system, or work from within one app or another to retrieve and restore deleted or saved-over files at the click of a button. Time Machine is also darn handy in that it can store its on-the-fly versioning backups on an external hard drive or server; a good idea if a backup is to truly be a backup.
Next up is Spaces, an short and unassuming name for a feature that many consider far too late in its arrival in mainstream OSes: virtual desktops. Apple seemed to really handle this well, as if you watch the video, you can see there's very fluid animation between four different desktops. Also, when in the bird's eye view (pictured), you can easily drag and drop applications from one desktop to the other, making it simple to organize your workspaces for business and play. The one thing that concerns me, however, is how Spaces handles application switching. As you can see in the video, the Dock (like the Windows taskbar) remains static between your multiple desktops. If you click on an app in the dock that's on a different desktop, however, you are automatically switched over to that desktop - the app isn't brought to the desktop you're presently working on. This is probably a good idea, especially for organization's sake, but since I'm not used to working in virtual desktops on any OS very much, this might take some getting used to.
iChat - live video effects, slideshows and collaboration, oh my!
If you ask me, features like this have been a looong time coming to chat apps, and as a Mac OS X user, I'm delighted to see Apple finally taking a crack at this. Mac OS X Leopard's iChat is receiving a major feature upgrade, with tabbed chats, live video effects (since most of their machines now include built-in iSight webcams) and really slick slideshow and collaboration abilities. The image I have pictured here is a slideshow of images pulled out of iPhoto and rendered with slick 3D video effects on the fly (the host is in the bottom left corner of the chat window). iChat also features some killer desktop collaboration tools, including the ability to share your screen with another user so you can collaborate, shop together, tweak a presentation - anything. I never thought I'd be getting that excited about a chat app, especially one that hasn't really been updated for quite a while like iChat, but it's nice to see some big innovation here.
All the rest
There are plenty of other new features Apple introduced today, and some that are even still under wraps. It's important to note, however, that Leopard was originally promised this fall, but has been bumped back to Spring of 2007; yes, it seems even Apple, at times, isn't immune from the dreaded 'delay' that has plagued other software developers *cough*.
Ultimately though, it looks like Apple has some really unique and innovative features planned for the 5th installment of Mac OS X. Stay tuned for more details when we get our hands on them.