Apple has brought Yosemite to the mountain: El Capitan, specifically, which is the name of OS X 10.11 as well as a peak in Yosemite National Park. Revealed Monday at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, El Capitan the release is intended to reach a higher point, but not dig new ground.
Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, emphasized the release is about an improvement in experience and performance. El Capitan's announcement focused on small points of irritation and big bumps in efficiency.
Safari adds pinning, letting users keep particular pages readily available. The sites will be regularly updated in the background to keep them up to date. In a feature that received plenty of applause among the audience, Safari will now make it easy to reveal which tab or tabs is playing sound, and let audio be muted with a single click on in its tab.
Apple emphasized new gestures that borrow from iOS, such as swiping left in Mail to reveal a Delete button that can be tapped. Federighi also showed off in Mail a new option for hiding windows within an app without minimizing them. Dragging a message to the bottom of the screen docks it, with its window bar still available. An image can be dragged from a message being viewed onscreen into the docked window.
The new release provides better options for working among multiple apps through Spaces Bar, a slightly revamped multiple-desktop management system, and with better use of full-screen mode. Clicking and dragging the green window-resize button uses Exposé to show other available apps. Drop onto another app, and El Capitan creates a full-screen, side-by-side working view of both.
Spotlight also receives tweaks. The results window can be resized and moved — Federighi joked "that's innovation!" But Spotlight now encompasses more natural-language queries, like "documents I worked on last June."
Apple also emphasized performance improvements to address ongoing complaints about delays, spinning cursors, and other odd lags in speed in Yosemite, sometimes in comparison to previous releases of OS X. Federighi said that apps will launch up to 1.4 times faster, switching between apps will be twice as fast, and PDFs will open in Preview four times as fast.
On the graphics side, Apple is bringing its Metal framework to OS X, making graphics rendering 40 percent more efficient. For games, drawing performance can be ten times faster. Game developer Epic showed a Metal-based game it built, and said its developers saw a 70-percent reduction in CPU use compared to OpenGL.
On the professional production side, Federighi said that Adobe was able to pull an eightfold improvement in After Effects rendering. Adobe is committed to adopting Metal across its OS X apps, he said.
The new version is available to developers today and in a public beta in July. It will ship in the fall as a free upgrade.
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