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Time Machine

Intuitive Spaces
Apple unveils just a bit of its next major OS release

Apple today talked a great deal about its upcoming version of OS X, codenamed Leopard. While it's true that past and current versions of OS X have introduced a fair number of updates and new features into the overall OS X mix, upcoming version 10.5 will be a giant step forward for OS X, making the minor 0.1 numeration change quite an understatement. While Apple did not go into detail about some of what it claims to be Leopard's larger improvements and new features, it did say that more details will be revealed at a later date. For now, Apple is still working on Leopard and anticipates a shipping date sometime in spring of 2007.

Leopard will be a true 64-bit operating system with 32-bit compatibility. Apple claims that 32-bit applications will run alongside 64-bit applications without conversion, emulation or virtualization. Users will be able to run both types of applications side by side in real time.

Another major feature that Steve Jobs talked about is Time Machine, Leopard's built in backup and rollback mechanism. Time Machine brings a lot to the table in terms of keeping data safe and accessible for users and like the upcoming System Restore feature in Windows Vista, Time Machine is able to perform several neat features and then some. Users are able to instantly restore an entire system or simply one file, down to specific dates. Like the restore system in Windows Vista, Leopard users will also be able to see what past versions of a document looked like, and preview it before a restore. Time Machine also appears to be well integrated into Finder, OS X's built in file searching and management system. Users can perform file lookups by date and time stamp, and Finder will display past versions of that file. Time Machine can also perform searches within past documents.

Apple says that the API in Time Machine will be openly available to developers for integration. For example, Time Machine features are available in Leopard's release of iPhoto, allowing users to restore entire rolls of film or just one photo. Users can use Time Machine to backup to local disk or to a network.

Apple's highly popular Boot Camp will be seeing a full release in Leopard. Responsible for allowing Mac users to dual-boot Windows XP, Boot Camp was introduced earlier this year for Intel-Macs. The feature became an instant success with Mac owners and online Apple retailers even started shipping Macs with optional Windows XP Home or Professional bundles. Apple did not talk about virtualization integration.

Mac users will already be familiar with OS X highly useful but elegant desktop management feature called Expose. With Leopard, Apple is introducing a new feature called Spaces, which is really just a virtual desktop feature. However, Spaces go beyond typical virtual desktops utilities by integrating Expose-like features and presentation. Users can simply click a button, and all Spaces will arrange themselves onto the screen so that a user can see what's going on in all the desktops. Users can even drag and drop individual applications from one desktop to another within the overall view. Within the same view, users will be able to rearrange the desktops around to their liking as well. Spaces brings the best of virtual desktop features with the elegance of Expose into one highly useful tool.

Several other features being introduced with Leopard are new iChat features such as video camera support and tabbed-chat. iChat will also introduce iChat Theater, allowing users to share photos and presentations to friends through a live view. Leopard will also have vastly improve text-to-speech features, which will be able to read documents in a highly realistic voice.

Apple indicated that there are many other big features of Leopard that are still under wraps at this time, but so far, the company believes that it's ahead of Microsoft and Windows Vista. More details to come at the next Apple conference, Mac World.

At WWDC today, Apple introduced its new Mac Pro desktop to replace the outgoing PowerMac G5 desktops. Its Xserve servers also saw the transition over to Intel processors, completing Apple's overall transition.




"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook
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