Mac OS X Snow Leopard: 10.6 Build 10A286 Exclusive Preview

17 03 2009

In an unusual move late Monday evening, The iLife has received a number of exclusive looks into the latest Snow Leopard build.


These screenshots shown in the gallery below detail some small subtitle changes in the latest non internal build of Mac OS X 10.6. The build, titled 10A286 was seeded to Apple Developers earlier this month.

Of the notable changes, is the Cocoa Finder. The source indicates the font is different and there are small animations when selecting a file or renaming a folder or file. There is also a new right click (or control click) menu that includes “Make New Sticky Note”, “Show Address in Google Maps” and “Send Selection” (to Mail) among other additions. The new trash “Put Back” menu option is indeed present and our source says you can even launch trashed items while they are still in the trash. Our source noted everything from web browsing to opening programs ran considerably faster on his MacBook Pro (4,1). This is not surprising considering the new 64 bit Kernel as seen in the Activity Monitor shot.

The new QuickTime X interface is demonstrated in two screenshots below, which is the only instance of the “black glass” interface being used throughout the build, which breaks the Leopard ‘unified interface’. Also the Exchange support implemented within iCal, Mail and Address Book is a new addition. The Calculator application now features a “Convert” menu. The Image Capture, Font Book and Bluetooth Setup Assistant have seen small interface changes, bringing them up to speed with the latest Apple looks. The Trackpad and Energy Saver icons in System Preferences have changed to reflect that of the new unibody MacBooks and more interestingly, the four finger gestures have also been implemented to non unibody MacBooks supporting multi-touch. Finally, when taking screenshots instead of being labeled with “Picture X” (going in sequential numerical order), the screenshots are now titled by default with the date and time.

Happy 300th post and thanks to our anonymous source for the tips!

The Phone To Beat The iPhone: Meet Google’s Android

8 07 2008

With the new iPhone 3G coming out later this week, take a look at what some other companies are doing to compete with the iPhone.

The iPhone is considered by many, to be the most revolutionary phone to ever be released. It is a totally new experience for may users, with it’s 3.5 inch touch screen; mobile web browsing with Safari (Apple’s web browser), using either WiFi or the AT&T mobile internet services; a full built in iPod for music listening and more. On top of all these amazing features, it also functions as a phone! The iPhone was the first “smartphone” that slickly combined many features in a manor that only Apple could pull off. However with every revolutionary product, competitors come out of the woodwork, most of them are clearly cheap knockoffs, and some of them are somewhat acceptable replicas, however, every once in a while someone comes out with a product that clearly out does the original. As of yet, however, no one seems to have come out with a real “iPhone Killer”. So far, the most notable iPhone doppelgänger is LG’s VX10000 a.k.a. “the Verizon Voyager”, which is available on the Verizon Wireless network. While the Voyager is an okay competitor, the iPhone still tops it for many reasons, not the least of which is that the Voyager runs on a poorly designed Verizon platform, which is somewhat lacking, while the iPhone runs on a derivative of Apple’s powerful OS X.

Clearly something is missing here, really one of the most significant things keeping all iPhone competitors down is the lack of a solid grounding in the OS and UI department. Apple has years of experience, as well as a solid OS to work with, while every other manufacturer has to start from the ground up and basically reinvent the wheel. But what if there was a company with a solid background in designing intuitive interfaces, that could design an OS as elegant as Apple’s OS X. Then perhaps the major phone manufacturers could concentrate on what they do best and build phones. Perhaps from this marriage of elegant software, with efficient hardware, would come a phone that could truly rival the iPhone. Well one of the most well known technology companies is working on just that, an elegant open source operating system. You know this company as one with a history of recognizing the potential in small projects with sufficient funding, as well as being the company that reinvented search. Google has stepped into the mobile phone ring, and for real this time, not just integrating services with other mobile operating systems, but with a whole new mobile operating system, called Android.

Google, the worlds biggest and most well known search company, has recently teamed up with Andy Rubin, the creator of the Sidekick, to create an operating system for many mobile platforms, called Project Android. While many people have been talking about a “Google Phone” for as long as they have been talking about an “Apple Phone”, Google is not expected to release any specific hardware to run Android. One might make the comparison to the so-called OS wars between Apple and Microsoft: on one hand you have Apple with their tightly controlled hardware, which depending on your viewpoint, is either a Pro or a Con; while on the other hand you have Microsoft which currently dominates the OS usage rates, (though not for long) because of it’s “open” Operating System, meaning it isn’t tied to any specific hardware, the only requirement is that the machine has to be capable of running it. Google has taken the more open road here as well, opting to not make the limiting factor the hardware, but the ingenuity of the person attempting to install it.

Android also has a SDK that has already been released for developers to play with. Using Java, developers can make applications from scratch that do anything from enable you to check your email, to playing the hottest new game. Along with its operating system, Android relies on Linux 2.6 to run its core services such a security, memory, and any other behind the scenes work a computers operating system would normally do.

So while many companies have tried to accomplish the task of making a phone that is sleeker, faster, and just better than the iPhone, Google has come at it from a different perspective. Instead of spending all their money on building a sleek phone, Google has spent their time on making an operating system and letting the companies and people install on the phones they like. And by allowing developers to make applications for Android before it has been released, they have allowed the people to make the operating system they would like instead of letting Google’s development team spend many tireless hours guessing how to make it perfect. So with Android’s expected release to be sometime later this year, many wonder if the iPhone will be able to stand supreme among its competitors. Or will phones running Android become the Phones to beat the iPhone? We will soon find out.

WWDC 2008 Mac OS X State of the Union: Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

9 06 2008

Mac OS X State of the Union Address 10.6 Developer Preview

What started as a rumor, then revealed at the WWDC Keynote: the next iteration of Mac OS X, version 10.6 will indeed be called Snow Leopard. Snow Leopard will “ on the incredible success of OS X Leopard..” by “..focusing primarily on new features, Snow Leopard will enhance the performance of OS X”. Rumors say that this means no PowerPC support, and could possibly mark the end of existence for Carbon UI.

Apple says that by optimizing the new OS X for multi-core processors and tapping into the potential of graphic processing units (GPU) OS X become faster and more reliable and allow more vast amounts of RAM. Additionally, Snow Leopard will ship with Microsoft Exchange support out of the box and features QuickTime X, a “new, modern media platform”.

According to Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senioer vice president of Software Engineering:

“We have delivered more than a thousand new features to OS X in just seven years and Snow Leopard lays the foundation for thousands more”. “In our continued effort to deliver the best user experience, we hit the pause button on new features to focus on perfecting the world’s most advanced operating system.”

Using new technologies, coded named “Grand Central” future developers will be able to take full advantage of multi-core processors. Also, Open Computing Language (OpenCL), based off the C programming language, will allow for applications to ‘tap’ into the power of the GPU- which is typically reserved for graphics applications. Snow Leopard, thanks to 64-bit technology, will be able to support system memory up to a theoretical 16TB of RAM.

According to Apple, QuickTime X optimizes support for ‘modern audio and video formats’ which will result in more efficient media playback. Snow Leopard will include Safari with improved JavaScript implementation, which can be up to 53 percent faster- allowing heavy Web 2.0 applications respond faster. Microsoft Exchange 2007 support will be integrated into upcoming versions of Mail, iCal and Address Book.

The Mac OS X State of the Union address took place today at 2:00 – 3:15 PM at Presidio. You can read more about Mac OS X Snow Leopard here.

Check more the pictures below!

Mac OS X State of the Union Address 10.6 Exchange Support
Mac OS X State of the Union Address 10.6 New Features
10.6 Snow Leopard OS X State of the Union
0 New Features OS X 10.6 State of the Union Address

The Psystar $399 Mac Clone

15 04 2008

The Internet was abuzz with being able to get a Mac for $399 yesterday.

The Psystar Open Computer
A picture of the Open Computer, black case

“Why spend $1999 to get the least expensive Apple computer with a decent video card when you can pay less than a fourth of that for an equivalent sleek and small form-factor desktop with the same hardware.”

Yesterday, an otherwise unknown company named Psystar introduced two computers dubbed the “Open Computer” and the “OpenPro”. The more interesting of the two, the Open Computer, starts at $399 for the following configuration:

2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 Processor
2GB of DDR2 667 memory
Integrated Intel GMA 950 Graphics
20x DVD+/-R SATA drive that is Lightscribe-capable
4 rear USB Ports

Now, if you were to compare this to Apple’s cheapest desktop offering; the Mac Mini- while it is impossible to build a spec for spec comparison through Apple, the Mini is more than twice the price at its closest configuration.

You may be wondering how this is possible, or how Apple could allow something like this to happen. Essentially, the Open Computer is a ‘Hackintosh’ or, a non-Apple branded computer running OS X on x86 architecture processors. The Hackintosh community began to form right after Steve Jobs announced the switch from IBM PowerPC processors to Intel processors. By using components known to be compatible with OS X and running a EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) emulator, you can run the Mac OS X operating system on non Apple hardware. The EFI simulates Open Firmware, basically the BIOS of Macs, and allows for the installation of OS X with little or no modifications to the stock installation DVD. This technique was not pioneered Psystar, as it has been used and was introduced by the OSx86 team.

Don’t think that Apple is going to sit idly while Psystar sells machines with OS X pre-installed. OS X’s EULA (End User License Agreement) strictly states that OS X can not be run on any non-branded Apple hardware.

“You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so.”

This means that while Apple has little leverage over the OSx86 team because they don’t outright sell anything pre-hacked, with Psystar, it is almost inevitable that the Apple legal team will be knocking at their door. Psystar however, for the meantime is offering both computers for sale today at the companies website.

While Psystar might go as quickly as it has come, it is interesting to see such a fierce and outright rebellion upon Apple and its EULA. This may not be the last startup company to preload OS X on its computers, and if one succeeds in doing so, Apple soon might have to readjust its business plan- and fast. Speaking to InformationWeek, a representative from Psystar said:

“What if Honda said that, after you buy their car, you could only drive it on the roads they said you could?”

Why 40% of all College Students Plan To Buy a Mac

4 04 2008

Recently, it has been estimated that over 40 percent of all perspective students plan to buy a Mac as their next computer.

Buy a Mac
“Buy a Mac and get a free iPod Nano” campaign

Last Wednesday, a report from Morgan Stanley revealed that 40 percent of all college students plan to buy a Mac as there next computer. However currently, Apple holds a 15 percent stake in the higher education market share. This indicates that this back-to-school season will see very strong Mac sales to students and Universities which are the most valuable customers.

Often Apple adds more incentive to buy a Mac by offering Students a $200 dollar rebate for a new iPod, or free iPod nano. This allows college students to save money, get a new iPod and helps Apple clear out stock of an iPod line nearing replacement. For the past two years, Apple started this campaign, “Buy a Mac and get a free iPod Nano” on June 5th, which is just before the back-to-school shopping season starts.

As Apple’s computer market share increases, we could attribute the gains to strong iPod and iPhone sales over the past few years, coupled with the Apple Retail experience and good brand affiliation. We could also look at the declining state of the Windows marketplace, mainly, Vista. Students, and the young crowd have always been a strong supporter of Apple. The ‘iPod Halo Effect’, may be coming true- the people who love their iPods or iPhones buy Macs and fall in love with OS X and iLife.

It is interesting, writing about the exact market which I fall in- I will be entering college as a freshman this fall. I can say, first hand, I have seen countless friends switch from a PC to a Mac for college throughout my years in high school, and I have yet to hear someone switch back. I know of many friends, some more tech-savvy than others; who plan to switch to the Mac for their next computer this summer. What appears to be a growing trend, these college students will not only help Apple now, but in the years ahead as well.

Noted in the same Morgan Stanley report, when the current college students matriculate into the workforce, Apple’s market share will be accelerated, much like Linux adoption during 1998-2003. Linux saw a eightfold increase in adoption, with 16 percent of all servers shipping with a distribution of Linux by 2003, compared to 2 percent in 1998 as Linux users found there way into the workplace.

With aggressive pricing and technical configurations, superior software and support, Apple can continue to drive more and more people to the Mac platform, be it College Students, IT professionals or businessmen. While the PC wars ended years ago, the competition has not ended- Microsoft has let their guard down. If 40 percent of college students intend on buying a Mac this year, what will it be next year? Only time will tell, but I will certainly be revisiting this article again in September and revealing what happened.

App Review – WhatSize

19 03 2008

Starting a series of reviews, we will be looking at valuable pieces of software. Today’s review is about WhatSize.

I am often asked by people looking to clear out space on their Mac for the best strategies and techniques to free up those precious bytes. The answer I always give is to download WhatSize. WhatSize is a great utility for mapping out the depths of your hard drive and quickly finding large files. Often when tight on space, you want to files that are taking up the most room and decide what to do with them- in a timely manner. Without WhatSize, it can be a taunting task of cleaning up a cluttered harddrive through just the Finder and the Get Info pane. This is why WhatSize can prove valuable to make it easy to find these large files.

The main UI for WhatSize

When you run WhatSize, you see a tree of drives and folders in your home folder. Simply select one of these drives or folders, and it will start mapping out the selected destination. Once WhatSize is done, you can explore the contents of the selected destination. WhatSize will color code the files by size- those that are over one gigabyte, red, greater than one megabyte, blue and files that are greater than one byte green. You can then easily send items to the trash or open them in a Finder window all within the WhatSize browser. Earning 4/5 i’s for our first Application review, you can download a copy and try it out on your own. More about the developer, id-design inc here.

WhatSize List
Sorting files by size, color coated.

i i i i (4/5)
WhatSize offers a nice user interface for finding large files, and at $12.99 is worth your money.

Is the iPhone Distracting Apple?

13 03 2008

Often times, people request features for the iPhone. What about features found on the iPhone but not the Mac?

iPhone Distracting

With the release of the iPhone firmware version 2.0, Apple has launched a set of enterprise features aimed at companies with mobile cell phones- support for Exchange servers, Cisco IPSec VPN and more. While this may be great for the iPhone, and help gain support from large companies and professionals alike- what about the Mac? If Apple supports these features for the iPhone, why can’t they give native support in OS X?

The initiative from Apple to open up the iPhone to developers and natively support a wide host of enterprise features is welcomed by all, as this is something Apple usually stays away from. In the past, Apple has typically made anyone wishing to use such enterprise features found in the iPhone firmware 2.0 relay on 3rd party developers such as Microsoft or Cisco. Why can’t Mail have Exchange support?! If Apple is going to continue to add features to the iPhone, will the Mac be left in the dark?

There is a long standing rumor that Leopard was delayed because of the June iPhone release date. This wouldn’t be the first time that Apple has neglected the Mac over the iPhone- but with good reason. The iPhone marks a new chapter of Apple, one that is showing a more mature Apple- and could become extremely successful over the coarse of the next few months. All I ask from Apple is- can we have all the iPhone features on the Mac?

Looking into OS X’s future

11 03 2008

Over the past few years, I have always wondered- how far can Mac OS X go?

OS X Future

Mac OS X was first released in 1999, with Mac OS X Server 1.0. In 2001, Mac OS X version 10.0 was released for desktop consumption. Based on UNIX, and taking many hints from NeXTSTEP, the NeXT Operating System, OS X brought us Aqua- a new GUI that reflected Apple’s colorful product lineup at the time. Now, almost ten years later, what has become of OS X?

Speaking about the recent Mac OS Tiger v10.4 release at WWDC 2005, Steve Jobs said:

“It [OS X] has set Apple up for the next 20 years.”

Funny, that makes a lot sense- with last October’s release of the latest iteration of OS X, 10.5 Leopard- we are not even halfway into the 20 years Steve mentioned, but halfway through the 10.x cycle. In 2007, the Mac saw its market share rise to almost 8% by years end. Apple sold almost 4 million iPhones worldwide. Both product lines rely on OS X for software. From its inception in 1999, this is significant progress. OS X has become more than an Operating System- it is working its way into the core of Apple.

Last week’s iPhone Road Map event is a great example of the power in OS X and what it can do beyond the personal computer. The iPhone SDK will probably become another landmark event for OS X, as developers harness the power of the software running in the iPhone. Intern, not only will that sell more iPhones, but it will expand and solidify Mac OS X’s presence.

Later this year, we will see more and more integration of OS X into Apple’s other products that aren’t a desktop or laptop. For example, last year, we saw the iPhone, iPod Touch and AppleTV introduced- all of which run OS X at the core. This year, and as we continue into the future, we will see more devises shipping with OS X and continue to see it’s market share increase.

With more products running OS X, and continued demand for these products- be it iPods, Macs or iPhones- OS X has a very bright future. The shear fact that one OS is powering a Phone, an iPod, a set top media box and personal computers demonstrates its power and potential for future devices. The question is… what will OS XI bring us?