Of course WWDC isn’t the same without a big preview of the next version of OS X, and this year’s conference was no different. Apple presented its latest version of OS X that will be coming soon, OS X El Capitan.
El Capitan, named after a mountain peak at Yosemite National Park focuses on improving the software’s experience and performance. It’s currently available for Apple developers, will be available via a public beta release in July and will be downloadable for everyone – for free – this fall.
The name of the latest software, though it sounds weird, is in line with Apple’s trend of giving the latest Mac OS California-themed monikers. It finally left its cat phase – Tiger, Panther, Lion, Mountain Lion, Snow Leopard with OS X 10.9, when it released Mavericks (as a tribute to the local surfing community). It launched the most radical change we’ve seen to OS X last year in the form of OS X Yosemite, named after the national park.
As mentioned before, with Yosemite being the radical revamp, El Capitan focuses on improvements to the user experience and to performance. Apple’s senior VP of software engineering, Craig Federighi, detailed the major changes in the new release, starting with the overhaul to the Safari web browser. You will now be able to easily pin sites in the tab bar by just dragging it to the left. The address bar will also become the spot to find a tab where audio is playing and mute it directly.
Moving to Spotlight, Spotlight Search is being improved with the ability to respond to searches in general language, such as asking it to find “documents I worked on in June.” It will also be able to look up weather, stocks, and games scores.
There will be an improved Mission Control interface for better window management. Mission Control will also includes Split View, which splits the screen into two halves, one for each app. The Mail app will features tabs, minimized windows and more. Windows can be snapped to half the screen for split view by holding the green button. From there you can also resize your windows.
The new Notes app will see a great amount of improvement. You will be able to embed photos and use rich type with the Notes app, which almost makes it like a very simple version of Pages, as you’ll no longer be limited to just typing in text with the most basic of formatting abilities.
The system font is changing to San Francisco, similar to the Apple Watch, which is a change also being extended to Apple’s iOS 9, unifying the look of its various software offerings.
Apple is also claiming to make some real performance improvements in El Capitan: Apps will open up 1.4 times faster, app switching will be twice as fast, and PDF files will also open four times faster in Preview.
In more exciting news, Apple is also bringing it’s previously iOS-exclusive Metal graphics rendering engine over to the desktop with El Capitan. That should make it easier for developers to port their games over, and it’s also something developers can include in media-heavy applications. Adobe, for example, says it will bring Metal to all of its Creative Suite apps including Photoshop and Illustrator. Apple is also getting support from developers like Epic Games, 2K Games and The Foundry.
OS X El Capitan will run on all Macs that currently run OS X Yosemite, namely:
- iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
- MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
- MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
- Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
- Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
- Xserve (Early 2009)
So what are your views on Apple’s latest version of OS X? Yay or nay? The features do look improved and promising, but I remember how much many hated Apple’s radical design change it bought with Yosemite, and not much has been done to improve that in El Capitan.
Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below.