What’s New in Snow Leopard? Technologies Review of Snow Leopard

If there were awards for the boldest announcement in personal computing history, maybe the introduction of Snow Leopard in WWDC 2008 would win. Apple’s Bertrand Serlet stated that the latest and greatest Mac OS X would have 0 new features. In the world where new features are always the major selling points of every new OS, the announcement was a bold move.

Instead of selling new features, Apple emphasizes on “refinements”. Snow Leopard comes with new technologies which makes it a leaner and faster OS than its predecessors.

Why don’t we take a look at the new technologies and improvements of the youngest feline of Mac OS X family.

New Technologies Explained

Here are new technologies that introduced with Snow Leopard:

1. 64-bit computing

snow leopard 64bit icon

The entire computing industry is moving from 32-bit to 64-bit technology,” Apple said, so nearly all system applications in Snow Leopard are rewritten in 64-bit code. To common users, the benefits of using 64-bit technology are faster system performance, support for larger system memory (up to 16 Terrabytes), and higher level of system security.

2. Grand Central Dispatch

snowleopard gcd icon

I personally think that Apple has chosen the right icon for GCD because from my understanding, Grand Central Dispatch is like a train traffic controller. This technology will assign every running process to available processor resources, so the whole system can efficiently use the machine’s computing power to its optimum limit. The result is better and faster OS.

3. OpenCL

snow leopard opencl icon

If GCD is the technology to optimize the CPU power of a machine, then OpenCL (stands for Open Computing Language) is the counterpart for GPU. This technology will enable unused graphic processing power for non-graphical process.

4. QuickTime X

snowleopard quicktime icon

The QuickTime that we are talking about here is not just a mere media player but more to the next-generation media technology that powers the audio and video experience in Mac OS X. Included inside this technology is the media player, the ability to deliver smooth media playback, support for advanced video streaming, the ability to edit and share media to various devices including mobile gadgets like iPod and iPhone.

Few of the many improvements

There are too many improvements in Snow Leopard to be listed down here, so I’ll just pick few that are the most apparent – at least to me.

1. Dock and Exposé

You can now acces Exposé directly from the Dock just by clicking and holding the item’s icon on the dock. Now, along with Alt + Tab, this is my favorite way to quickly access another open window. You may also noticed that items in Exposé are neatly arranged.

snowleopard Expose

2. Scrollable Stacks

You can create Stacks easily by dragging a folder to the Dock. The main purpose of this feature is to quickly look at the content of a folder. In Snow Leopard, users can do scrolling within a stack, and navigate through folders by clicking at the folder.

snow leopard Stacks

3. More hard drive space

Apple claims that you’ll free about 7 Gb of hard drive space if you upgrade to Snow Leopard. While I fail to make the pictorial documentation to back up the claim (I was too excited to upgrade), my hard drive went from about 13 Gb in Leopard to about 24 Gb in Snow Leopard. But that’s also because there are a lot of internet cache that being cleared out because of the system restarting.

4. Address Book and iCal sync to Google and Yahoo

The organizing freaks would surely appreciate the new ability of iCal and Address Book to synchronize with Google and Yahoo account. Even those whose life is more of the happy-go-lucky type (like me) wouldn’t mind getting these improvements.

snow leopard iCal Sync

snow leopard Address Book Sync

One new feature, he lied!

It turns out that Snow Leopard is not without any new feature. There’s one: support for Microsoft Exchange 2007. This must be a good news for those who uses MS Exchange server. I myself don’t have access to any Exchange since I worked alone in my home office so I can’t provide you with any comment.

Maybe there are some readers who can share first hand experience on this feature?

Any other opinions (or corrections to my limited knowledge) on Snow Leopard’s new technologies and improvements are also welcomed. Share using the comment below.

Jeffry Thurana Jeffry Thurana

Jeffry Thurana is a creative writer living in Indonesia. He helps other writers and freelancers to earn more from their crafts. He's on a quest of learning the art of storytelling, believing that how you tell a story is as important as the story itself. He is also an architect and a designer, and loves traveling and playing classical guitar.


  1. The capability of the track pad in the new powerbooks has been upgraded. You can go to the keyboard input sources (under languages in the system preference panel) and enable either the simplified or traditional Chinese input panes. You activate the trackpad by typing shift+control+ space bar to invoque or turn off this feature. Very slick.

  2. I don’t think MS Exchange is considered a new feature, just an improvement on several apps.

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