I’ve now had some amount of 3 days to play with Leopard, the new version of Apple’s OS X operating system, after lining up outside the SoHo store on Friday night – yeah, I’m a fanboy. Here are some first impressions (and consider I purely use OS X at home, not at work (yet )
New Finder – Yep, I like it overall. The new ‘path bar’ feature is good, but why it won’t let me copy a UNIX equivalent I don’t know. The metaphor still needs a little thinking – it’s not a total hierarchy (I can’t click on the category headings) and sometimes I end up in places I can’t navigate to. No biggies, but a couple of times I’ve gone ‘huh?’
Network shares work a little differently – a couple of times also causing ‘huh?’s – including Airport Extreme disks no longer turn up on the desktop. You can make all network shares appear on the desktop in a preferences window but I just did that on my machine and saw a bug.
I’m not really fussed about the quick look / cover flow stuff but I guess if I was using it more for work that might be useful.
Dock/Menu Bar – Meh. I don’t hate it like some do but it’s not rocking my world. The new ’stacks’ feature is ok, I’ve started using it, but I’m not sure how big a deal it is. The download stack is useful because I’m trying Safari (see below). I’m fine with the coloured menu bar, the interesting thing is on my oldish G4 mac mini it’s solid grey as opposed to the translucent look on my Core 2 Duo iMac.
Safari – I’m giving Safari 3 a go. This is partly because Camino doesn’t quite work as I want sometimes and Firefox has lost the plot somewhere on memory usage / stability (at least on a Mac).
Safari 3 is definitely quick, and I like how downloads automatically go in the download stack and in the case of .dmg’s / .zip’s do the ‘right thing’ without you asking. (e.g. I just downloaded an app in a .zip – it appeared unzipped in the download stack and I could then drag it straight into the Applications stack – nice.)
Safari seems to spawn too many windows when I just want tabs, but there’s a ‘Merge All Windows’ option (but alas no keyboard shortcut.) 2 features / plugins I missed from Firefox were subscribing RSS feeds to Google Reader and del.icio.us time savers but I’m using this and this to mitigate that.
Time Machine – it’s definitely easy to use but is lacking features and needs work. First of all you can’t backup to network shares right now (which was a big reason I bought an Airport Extreme in the first place *sigh*), and also I think they need to be more sensible with large file support (e.g. at the moment if you use Entourage or VMware by default you’re going to backing up new multi-GB files every hour – whoops!) In fact, it needs better support generally of exclusions / inclusions.
Terminal – finally has tabs, plus ‘close window on exit’ and ‘turn off the annoying bell’ in the preference pane. OK, maybe these new 2 aren’t new but tabs is a biggie.
Spotlight – Yes, it’s usable now (at least on my iMac). It works across a network easily and seems to (a) pick new items up quickly and (b) search quickly. Nice work.
Front Row – Despite rumors going around the web last week, Front Row does work even if you don’t have an in-built IR receiver. I plugged a Mantra TR1 into my G4 Mac Mini a couple of weeks ago and Front Row works with it (I’m having some IR issues generally, but that’s not Front Row’s fault)
Overall – there’s no immediate ‘wow’ about using Leopard but it gives the impression a lot has improved under the covers. Despite my angst with the lack on network hard-disk support for Time Machine, and the angst I would have if I wanted to develop in Java 6 (come on Apple – pull your finger out on that one), I still think the $199 to upgrade both my Macs was money well spent. But I’m a fan-boy, I would say that, right?