At Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference today, Steve Jobs showed off several new features in Leopard, the forthcoming release of Mac OS X, including a new, clean look for the desktop and Finder.
Taking its design cues from recent versions of iTunes, Leopard is focused on keeping files on your Mac neat and accessible. "Stacks," a new automated organizing system, groups recently downloaded files and current projects into menus which spring from the three-dimensional dock, keeping your desktop free from clutter. Coverflow has been extended to the operating system itself, letting you browse your files just like cover art in iTunes and preview them without having to open an application. Jobs reviewed previously announced features such as Time Machine, Leopard's automatic backup utility, and Spaces, which lets you organize your open applications on virtual desktops, keeping them organized by function and reducing window clutter.
There is also an emphasis on sharing in Leopard. Computers on your local network now appear in a collapsible section of the sidebar, just like a DVD or iPod, and can be searched using Spotlight. Subscribers to .Mac have this level of integration extended to all their machines, using Apple's web service to simplify the process of remote connections. And the crowd-pleasing upgrade to iChat not only features slick backgrounds and effects in video chats, but allows live sharing of files with your chat buddies.
By adopting many of the familiar interface elements from iTunes and integrating them across the Mac operating system, Leopard is obviously appealing to Apple's new audience. But it feels in step with the classic Apple mantra of "it just works," and is proof that Apple designers remain focused on simplicity and elegance in the way we interact with technology.
Mac OS X Leopard will go on sale this October 2007 for $129.
by Adam Simon