Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
28 August, 2009

“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”, said Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering at the now traditional OS preview at 2009’s WWDC. “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”.

Launched just over a year after Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard offered 64-bit versions of applications including Mail, iCal, iChat and Finder (completely rewritten in Apple’s native Cocoa API). In order to take advantage of multi-core processors, Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) was integrated throughout the operating system, from new system-wide APIs to high-level frameworks and programming language extensions. It could take advantage of the power of graphic processing units (GPUs) using OpenCL, a C-based open standard. Snow Leopard included QuickTime X, which featured a redesigned full-screen player that allowed users to easily view, record, trim and share video, as well as a 64-bit version of Safari 4 that was up to 50 per cent faster and resistant to crashes caused by plug-ins. It also featured built-in support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, the only desktop operating system to do so. However, it would only run on Intel-based Macs with at least 1GB of RAM.

Snow Leopard was released as an upgrade for Mac OS X Leopard users for £25, was half the size of the previous version and freed up to 7GB of drive space once installed. “The combination of the refinements, the performance enhancements and the new features means that paying the asking price is a no-brainer,” reported The Guardian.
In the meantime, Apple sold its one millionth iPhone 3G just three days after its launch on 11 July, 2008. This feat was repeated by the 3GS, which also racked up sales of over one million within three days of its launch on 18 June, 2009. Meanwhile, the App Store swelled to over 100,000 apps, with over two billion downloads by Q3 2009.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
Expected Summer 2011

On 20 October, 2010, Apple gave a sneak peek of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. Scheduled to ship this summer, the operating system is inspired by many of the iPad’s software innovations.

Presented by Steve Jobs, the Back to the Mac session introduced some elements of Lion such as the Mac OS App Store, which follows a similar model to the online resource for iPhone/iPad users and will provide one-step installation of Apps and automatic updates. The full-screen display of apps, as seen on the iPad, will become a standard feature of Lion, allowing users to bring an app to full-screen with one click, switch to another full-screen app with a swipe of the trackpad and swipe back to the desktop to access multi-window apps. Whenever you download a program from the App Store, it will be displayed on Launch Pad.

Launch Pad will be a new way to access and launch all applications on the Mac. One swipe with a gesture-capable device will display multiple pages of apps, and you can arrange them any way you like by dragging an application’s icon to a new location or by grouping them in folders.

Utilities in Snow Leopard such as Exposé, Dashboard and Spaces are brought together in Lion’s Mission Control, which offers an innovative new view of everything running on your Mac, allowing you to instantly navigate anywhere.

“Lion brings many of the best ideas from iPad back to the Mac, plus some fresh new ones like Mission Control that Mac users will really like,” said Jobs at the event. “Lion has a ton of new features, and we hope the few we had time to preview today will give users a good idea of where we are headed.”

Apple previewed some further features of Lion in February, when it released a developer preview. These included a new version of Mail, plus AirDrop, a way of syncing Macs wirelessly. An updated version of FileVault will encrypt the whole system. Read more on Lion’s features in the News section.