Wow. An exciting morning with the release of Apple's new Mac Pros (no case change), Xserves (no case change) and the preview of Mac OS X "Leopard" (alas, no apparent new Finder). Yet, let me kid you not by making Leopard look a lot fuzzier as compared to the more ferocious Mac OS X's that have come before it. From even the initial looks of it, although Leopard might not have many revolutionary features, it's going to make Mac OS X even more fun, exciting and productive. This is why I love the Mac.
Anyway, let's jump right into it in descending order of the "subjective importance" of the feature as measured by yours truly.
- Time Machine: I knew I had to wait till I saw the QuickTime stream of the keynote till I judged Time Machine because I was underwhelmed when I initially heard about it. Figures I was totally right. You have to watch this thing in action to realize how elegantly powerful it is. Of course, right now I'm sounding like you already know all about Time Machine, but let me break that assumption. Time Machine is Apple's solution to backup. No, not like the piece of shit they made for .Mac members - something "proper" this time. What appears to be the case is that you give Time Machine access to certain hard drives or network servers, which Time Machine willingly adopts as surrogate children and gets to work filling them up with stuff you've overwritten, modified, trashed, etc. According to Apple, Time Machine will keep track of every single file on your hard drive(s) and so, in case your primary hard drive fails, you should immediately be able to just go get a replacement, fire up your computer and Time Machine gets your system back to fully-functional state in the time that it takes to dump all that data back on to the new drive. Now that, coupled with the selective restore feature (Apple calls it 'à la carte restore') and the extremely snazzy animation makes for one mind-blowing product. And I want to have it! This thing has the potential to make me and my entire family a happy people. My father has over 7000 pictures in his iPhoto Library, many times more than I do, and let me tell you that if he lost them, he would be the most devastated man in the entire world, until the next tsunami or hurricane hits at least. Go do something about global warming, like watch a film.
- Xcode 3: I don't think it even got a full fifteen seconds of fame during the keynote but this is major! This is the second major version of Xcode, it has a much-overhauled Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and it adds Garbage Collection. In fact, this is so important that I was actually thinking of not starting development on OS X before Garbage Collection was added to Xcode because I am seriously not interested in managing memory leaks on my own. Here's what Apple says about Xcode 3:
So compelling, Apple wrote Xcode 3.0 itself using it. Enjoy modern garbage collection, syntax enhancements, runtime performance improvements, and 64-bit support. At your own pace, since it’s backwards compatible with existing Objective-C source. Write applications more quickly with fewer bugs using Objective-C in Xcode 3.0.How awesome is it that they wrote Xcode 3 in Xcode 3? Very. I cannot wait to get my hands on this Xcode 2.3 already feels ancient and I haven't even seen Xcode 3 properly.
- Core Animation: Now these hidden background "engine" technologies like Core Data and Core Image usually don't make as much press as other things but they are actually the technologies behind what makes all of these fantastic Apple and third-party Mac applications possible. Time Machine animations? All done in Core Animation. As a prospective Mac developer, I am extremely excited.
- iChat: Although this is not the feature that Apple's harping on about, I think the coolest thing in the new iChat is the ability to do a Remote Assistance-like thing by sharing your screen with a friend. This is going to be totally freaking awesome for troubleshooting and working together on websites and Photoshop.
- Dashboard: Although I'm not sure whether I'm going to use Dashcode, Apple's new development environment for Dashboard a lot or not, I definitely will be using Web Clip, a feature that allows you to visit, say CNN.com, drag a box around the "Top Stories" column and make a widget out of it so that you see it every time you open Dashboard. This is going to make Dashboard at least twice as useful. Also, I think Apple has added the feature for Dashboard widgets to appear on your Desktop (without the dark grey layer), or so it appears from their Leopard Server website where they show a system monitoring widget outside the Dashboard environment.
- Spaces: Good implementation of Virtual Desktops feature that has existed in Mac OS for a long time now. Anyway, if you want Spaces today, that is actually one thing that is possible - just download VirtueDesktops. It's free.