posted by Thom Holwerda on Mon 8th Jun 2009 18:02 UTC
IconAt the WWDC today, Apple has lifted the veil on a number of features of its upcoming operating system, Snow Leopard. Most of the work on Snow Leopard has gone into under-the-hood technologies and optimisations, but there are also a number of interface tweaks. The company also updated some of its laptops, while also lowering their prices. We got all the news from

Snow Leopard

The dock and Expose have been refined and combined, meaning that clicking and holding an icon in the dock will show you that application's open windows in Expose fashion. You can also do this while dragging a file onto the dock, and then select the proper window by hovering the file over the desired window. I must say that even though this sounds like a small feature, I've often banged my head against my glass desk in frustration over the fact that Expose couldn't do this before.

Stacks have also been improved in the dock, making them better at handling larger amounts of files. You can also drill deeper into the directory structure using stacks, which should make them a more useful feature. Another addition is Quicktime X, which sports the rumoured minimalist interface. It also has a timeline which you can use to trim and prepare videos and upload them to YouTube, MobileMe, or iTunes.

Coinciding with the WWDC keynote is the final release of Safari 4 (all platforms), which offers massive speed improvements over other browsers, Apple claims. In general, Apple was really into "xx times as fast as" figures today, but we'll wait when the real benchmarks come out before we list them here. Apple also states that installation time has been reduced by 45%, and that Snow Leopard takes up 6GB less hard drive space than Leopard. Very nice.

Another big thing is of course Grand Central, which will make develping multithreaded applications easier. Also new is OpenCL, which allows developers to tap into the power of the GPU; OpenCL is now supported by many, many companies. Apple also claims that JavaScript performance will increase by 50% thanks to 64bit. On the business side of things, snow Leopard comes with support for Microsoft Exchange 2007.

The biggest surprise was yet to come, though. Owners of Mac OS X Leopard will be able to buy Snow Leopard for just USD 29, with a family pack available at 49 USD. Let me be the first to say (on OSNews at least): holy cow. It will be available coming September for All Intel Macs, past and present (so, as expected, no PowerPC).

This being an upgrade version, it does raise some questions that Apple has never had to answer before: does it have product activation? Does it need the original Leopard disc? In other words, if you need to re-install, will you be forced to install Leopard first? Interesting stuff.

New and improved MacBooks

As said, Apple also improved its MacBook Pro line of laptops. The 15" model received a processor upgrade, as well as a new non-removable battery. It can pack up to 8Gb of RAM, and a 500GB 7200rpm hard drive, but you can also opt for a 256GB SSD. It comes with an SDHC card slot (so not the newer, higher-capacity ones), and a starting price of 1699 USD.

The 13" MacBook has been upgraded from MacBook to MacBook Pro, and receives many of the same features as the new 15" model, but it also comes with a FireWire port. I guess Apple just had to give in on that one. Starting price of 1199 USD, which is very, very nice. For the rest, they also updated the MacBook Pro 17" and the MacBook Air.

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