Snow Leopard: ReviewBy Partho, Gaea News Network
Thursday, August 27, 2009
All eyes are on the Snow Leopard that goes on sale tomorrow. It requires an Intel-based Mac. Leopard users can upgrade to the new OS X with $29 single-license, or a $49 five-license Family Pack. Those running Mac OS X 10.4 - Tiger, need to purchase the more expensive Box Set, priced at $169 for a single license and $229 for a five-license pack.
Starting from the scratch, as you restart the 10.6 you might notice no considerable changes except a few visual tweaks. Well, there’s nothing remarkable, but what lies underneath is Apple’s spring of action that involves a somewhat unusual step of curbing down the feature creep in its latest OS putting more focus on speed, reliability and stability. Snow Leopard marks Mac’s entry into 64-bit. For the Mac buffs, it implies the apps could address massive amounts of RAM and other tasks would go much faster. Above all, the Mac OS X seems all set to take on the corporate networks with Exchange support in Mail, iCal, and Address Book. Let’s have an insight into the scenario.
Snow Leopard would be occupying just half of the disk space than the earlier version. You got 7GB of free space to store approx 1750 more songs or a few thousand pictures.
Enhanced User Interface
In the former OS X releases we got the Expose and Dashboard on the interface. Well, there no such enhancement in the Snow Leopard. This doesn’t mean the story ends here, there are some impressive tweaks that we need to delve into. One of the mentionable inclusion is the Dock Expose that simply links Expose to the Dock. Press hold of an application’s icon trigger in the Dock and drag a file onto an application, given that you can choose the window where you wanna drop it into. The windows appear as an organized grid making it easier to search things. Overtly, it’s nothing to be blown-over.
Most of you might have no dealings with the Stacks feature. But if you are interested in the grid view there’s something for you. In 10.6 you have a scrollable grid view that offers the ability to drill down into folders just like Finder window. All other views are fundamentally same. However, Apple is yet to cure a frustrating glitch - the command-clicking a stack icon doesn’t open the stack instead opens the enclosing folder.
That’s the most discussed upgrade in the 10.6 version. The Finder has undergone a drastic change. Now you can open folders with thousand of items in a jiffy and scroll at a steady pace. Network connection and everything hums about zero lag. At least until we dump another couple thousand files into the system and slow down things.
Since the arrival of 10.0 there’s been a steeper inclination towards Cocoa (Mac’s API) than Carbon programming environment. The Finder has been entirely re-written in Cocoa to reap the advantage of all mordern technologies in Mac OS X. What’s worth a watch is that the 10.6 version features a new version of QuickTime that affects media playback on almost every level of the system.
UI Tweak: File Previews
The Cocoa rewritten Finder shows up a big tweak offering a live file preview. You might ask now what’s that? It means you can watch a video, flip through a document, and even peek into things without having to open an application and without having to hit the space bar for Quick Look. In addition you have some minor upgrades like better PDF text selection in Preview and new glass-look menus for the Dock. For more, you have alphabetical / per-app window organization choices in regular Expose when you press command 1 or command 2. It’s a great fillip to the Finder.
QuickTime X is a set of major changes wrapped in the seemingly-minor interface tweaks. Visibly there’s a dark interface with a title bar and controller strip that disappears during playback. OuickTime introduces some of the modern OS X features like Core Video, Core Animation, and Core Audio. With new changes OuickTime could greatly influence the media operations in Snow Leopard.
Now what’s new in the QuickTime Player? To begin with you have a new screen recording tool that allows you to record right off your built-in iSight. For more you have a crop tool-like function as the Trim feature in iPhone 3G S to cut videos quickly.
QuickTime Player X has added some cool features, but for those already using QuickTime 7 Pro things might not be a welcome change.
More so, some QuickTime-dependent apps might require a rewrite to run smoothly. For instance the Turbo.264 HD stick doesn’t function.
YouTube’s uploader didn’t load under Snow Leopard.
Having said all that, we need to add, those using the common functionalities of QuickTime. But those working on the Pro version might need a bit of time to get accustomed.
Quicker Time Machine Backup
Time Machine was first introduced in Mac OS X leopard to make it easy to back up your hard drive. Time Capsule introduced backup with its wireless hard drive that worked seamlessly with Time Machine. Now Snow Leopard would make Time Machine backup faster by 80 percent and reduce the time taken for initial backup by Time Capsule.
Snow Leopard offers a more reliable and more accessible video chat using iChat. It uses sophisticated technology to address many common router incompatibilities that can interfere with connections. In case iChat fails to make the direct connection it would use the AIM relay server to create a successful chat session. What’s more, you can have high-resolution, 640-by-480-pixel video chats at one-third the upstream bandwidth that required previously.
Safari 4: no crashes
Apple’s getting more corporate, introducing networking with built-in support for Microsoft Exchange in Mail, Address Book, and iCal. It offers a simple setup and an immaculate network integration.
For those running a stock or close to stock system can rest in peace. Those with a tweaked setup might run into several issues. Evidently the InputManager plugins has been sacrificed in 64-bit apps. This would mean that apps like Unsanity’s Application Enhancer framework and Safari plugins like Glims and 1Password might be disturbed while running.
More stable &
Given the compatibility issue, Snow Leopard is as stable as its predecessor.
With the speed that basic outcome doesn’t make much difference for Mac. However, what remains to be seen is that the raw CPU performance perks up, but the graphics numbers declines, especially the OpenGl performance in particular takes a big hit.
With a bunch of tweaks and improved functionality, the 10.6 available at $30 won’t get off to a flier, but definitely open up new vistas for Mac buffs. They can just wait until things fall in place. Definitely, the Exchange support would be a remarkable boost for the Snow Leopard. The Finder rewritten in Cocoa could bring in welcome changes and those resting on QuickTime for media might be a happier lot with the new features.
For those sticking to the Tiger its high-time to upgrade to Snow Leopard. However, those doing with Leopard might not feel the 10.6 too irresistible.