Friday, October 26, 2007

Leopard: Comments on new features

It was an extremely sad thing that I didn’t actually get to see the countdown timer on Apple’s webpage at 0 days, 0 hours and 1 sec before the official release. Instead, I was eating sushi with Fang Lin, Serena and Althea at Parkway!

But anyway, I’m still happy that Leopard, the OS I had been waiting for for ages, is finally finally out, and at a price a hell lot cheaper than most Vista editions. But of course if you’re sharp, you would know that the price of Leopard and Vista are not directly comparable since Vista is a bigger leap from XP than Leopard is from Tiger and so it would naturally be that Vista warrants a heftier price tag. Leopard retails at S$238 for an individual license, but if you plan to deploy this cat on more than one Mac, the 5 license family pack is available for S$369. I find the price to be the major point of contention for us users. If this thing retailed at say 50 bucks lower, it would make a no-brainer update, but now that it costs a bit more than what is reasonable (I feel), it makes people think twice.

Price issues aside, I would like to comment a bit about the 10 new major features. Paul’s Win SuperSite provides comprehensive screenshots of Leopard here and it’s advisable to take a look before reading on.

1) New Desktop
The desktop has not undergone severe changes, and it is still, at first glance, identifiable as Mac OS X. My only complain here has to do with the half-transparent top menu bar which honestly looks disgusting, aesthetically. It picks up the colour of your wallpaper beneath it and can really look awfully bad if your wallpaper is of a single colour, like this one:

I would prefer if the menu bar just remained the same as Tiger. The new dock looks much better than Tiger’s, and who really cares if it didn’t make sense putting it up on the left or right of the screen! It looks gorgeous and 3D-like.

2) Finder
I absolutely love the fact that the new Finder is modelled after iTunes UI, but initially it may get a bit confusing which is iTunes and Finder when you do the Expose. I dislike the new blue folder icons, because I find them too bluish and lack colour, which makes it less interesting. Cover flow is cool, but the images take some time to load when scrolling through rapidly. Lastly, thank goodness they abandoned the brushed metal UI going for a more standardized window design with a simple gray gradient, it looks much more unified and pleasing to the eye.

For a screenshot of what I'm talking about, refer here.

3) Quick Look
I have no complains on this for now, it is an ingenious idea and should benefit everyone. It also challenges the conventional notion of launching an application to view a file. All in all, Quick Look is a convenient useful feature.

4) Time Machine
Haha… This is the feature that gets everyone talking. I still think, right up to this day, that the UI is super-duper amazingly crazy. I mean, a star field and literally going back in time in space?! But then again, this is so typical of the Apple we know, which is so obsessed over making things all hyped-up and cool by overloading excessive animation and graphics, with the emphasis of appearance and aesthetics over functionality and practicality. Not to say that the star field isn’t functional, but surely if Microsoft would to do such a thing, they would present this in the simple, unexciting form of a drop-down list to choose from or something of the like, but definitely not a crazy UI like Time Machine. I feel that the emphasis on UI is a tad too much, and it may be a better idea to use a conventional list instead, despite how usual it might be. But Apple being Apple, it’s their trademark to make things look ‘cool’ with a visual appeal, so I don't really blame them for doing an absurd UI.

5) Mail
I can’t say much about Mail, because I don’t use it on a regular basis (it’s only synced with my Gmail but I use Yahoo! as my primary email) and I don’t really care about the new additions to it as web-based email seems to be the way to go today and few people use such desktop email software like Mail or even Outlook Express.

6) iChat
Again, I’m opinion-less on this, simple because I don’t use iChat. I’m on Adium and Skype.

7) Spaces
Apple has made it seem as if they were the first to create something like Spaces with the concept of multiple desktops or workspaces, but in reality, Linux did that long time ago. For example, Linux Ubuntu currently features this, and so Spaces is not entirely original in concept. But I must applaud Apple for making this much better than that found on Ubuntu or anywhere else. Spaces is more polished, more elegant, and better managed than anything I’ve used.

8) Safari Web Browser
Nothing much to say about this too, just that I hope it crashes less frequently on Leopard.

9) Parental Controls
I don’t use this feature even in Tiger, so I have no comments on Parental Controls, but I’d like to add that Vista has such a thing too.

10) Boot Camp
Boot Camp on Leopard is no longer in beta, and it runs XP and Vista natively with drivers for most of the hardware on your Mac, for example, your Wi-Fi and iSight. If you need to run Windows within Mac, you should purchase Parallel Desktop instead for a minimal price.

So this is a brief rundown of Leopard for you just a few hours after the worldwide release. If you think you want to purchase this cat and the price is justified, I give you my assurance that Leopard is a top-notch, solid operating system that just works. If not, then sticking with Tiger is pretty fine. I’m leaving my iBook at Tiger after all.

No comments: