Apple announced the latest version of its desktop operating system, OS X El Capitan, a week ago at the start of the highly anticipated Worldwide Developer Conference. The software is available to both developers and journalists, and now that the first reviews of OS X El Capitan have hit the web, we have gathered a few to highlight the features you can expect this fall.
It seems like Apple has listened to its customers and decided to slow down the pace with which it rolls out major releases. You may recall that, since OS X Lion, we’ve seen major OS releases each year. But that brought frustration to customers. Hence, Apple’s reputation suffered a lot during the past four years. That’s about to change this year — hopefully. Meanwhile, here is what members of the media are writing about OS X El Capitan:
In some ways, OS X El Capitan is comparable to the 2009 introduction of OS X Snow Leopard. Snow Leopard looked largely the same as Leopard, just as El Capitan doesn’t deviate from the design of OS X Yosemite. With Snow Leopard, small visual changes were made to Expose and Dock; El Capitan brings tiny tweaks to Mission Control (no more overlapping apps!). But 64-bit Snow Leopard also set the stage for ultra-powerful processing, while El Capitan brings Apple’s Metal graphics technology to Macs, which will make animation and graphics-processing for games and multimedia applications more efficient.
While many areas are still subject to change, the developers beta of El Capitan looks extremely promising. In particular, Split View, Spotlight and Mail’s greatly enhanced natural language search capacity and the dramatic improvements to Notes from jotting software are to be applauded. While these are not huge changes in the way the software looks or feels, they’re incremental improvements that make using OS X a simpler and more efficient experience.
El Capitan’s single most transformative feature is the overhaul given to Mission Control, a revamp that also affects Spaces and the Full Screen mode. It feels like a marriage of OS X’s window management and some of Windows 10’s more promising new features, driven by Macs’ large, accurate trackpads. The fact that Windows 10’s window management and multitasking features borrow so much from the Mac means that comparisons are inevitable.
I use Mail a lot. Unfortunately, I’ve had some trouble lately with Mail on Yosemite getting stuck while checking IMAP connections, especially after I wake the computer from sleep. All I ask for in El Capitan is for that to be fixed. The good news is that it seems much better in this beta version of the operating system. Apple said Mail in El Capitan delivers an improved IMAP engine, so I’m very hopeful. I haven’t had Mail stop working yet and I’m a week into using it—that’s a damn good sign.
One of the biggest little features coming to the Mac in El Cap is an overall performance boost. The software update doesn’t drop support for any Mac vs. OS X 10.10 Yosemite (which is the same group from Mavericks, by the way) and in fact, it’s possible it’ll run better on some older hardware.
These features are great—but there’s a catch: If you don’t already know they’re there, you won’t ever figure it out. There’s a lot of that in El Capitan. This is very much a power-user release, made to make the Mac more kick-ass for the people who want it to be as kick-ass as possible. You can pin sites in Safari, so you’ll be able to find your email in a sea of a thousand tabs. In Mail, you can swipe on an email to delete it, or open a bunch of new emails in one tabbed window. In Mail and in Finder, you can do the craziest searches you can think of: Emails from Anna from April that have attachments or PowerPoints from 2013 with Richard in the title. And they work! (Of course, few beyond Mac loyalists use Mail all that much.)
Apple’s latest desktop operating system is available to only a few select people, but the company plans to introduce a public beta version in July. Finally, it will reach the public as a free download sometime this fall.