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Software Reviews
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Preview: Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

£85 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Apple

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

More details have emerged about Mac OS X 10.5, the next major update to the Mac operating system that Apple has dubbed "Leopard".

The "Complete Package"

What it is: Last August, Apple slapped this all inclusive name on a trio of applications - Photo Booth, Front Row and Boot Camp - that it planned on including with the finished version of OS X 10.5.

Those applications aren't available to all current Mac users - Front Row and Photo Booth came bundled only with newer hardware while Boot Camp is a beta that Intel-based Mac users had to download the software themselves. Starting with Leopard, however, they will be.

What's changed: See below for details on the three parts of the package.PHILIP MICHAELS

Boot Camp

What it is: Introduced in April 2006, Boot Camp lets Macs reboot and run Windows XP or Vista natively, complete with drivers. The Version 1.3 beta was recently released, updating drivers.

What's Changed: Jobs covered the Boot Camp highlights in his keynote - namely, that Windows drivers will be included with Leopard's installation discs, saving users the hassle of having to burn a CD of those drivers or install them separately.

But Apple may have inadvertently released another new Boot Camp feature on its website, before hastily taking it down. For a while, Apple's Boot Camp website touted a new item in the Apple menu, "Restart in Windows", which puts your Mac into a "safe sleep" mode rather than shutting it down entirely before rebooting into Windows, along with a corresponding "Restart in Mac OS X" menu item in Windows.

The end result of such a capability: you still won't be able to run Windows and Mac OS X simultaneously without Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion, but you'll be able to switch back and forth between the two Windows more easily - and without having to sit through a full shutdown and restart. We'll see if that now-removed promise of a new feature appears in the final version of Leopard, but it certainly sounds compelling.JASON SNELL

Front Row

What it is: Introduced in October 2005, Front Row provides a remote-control-driven interface to media on your Mac, including music, videos, and photos.

What's changed: Since Front Row's release, it's been superseded by the software on the Apple TV.

And it looks as if that same Apple TV software has been rolled back into Front Row. The images on Apple's marketing page for Front Row make it appear that the Leopard version of Front Row will in essence be a Mac-based version of the same functionality found on the Apple TV.JASON SNELL

Photo Booth

What it is: Introduced in October 2005 at the same time as Front Row, Photo Booth is a small application that uses an iSight camera to take quick photos, including ones tricked out with lots of fun special effects.

What's changed: Leopard brings more effects to the built-in snapshot editor. Users can take photos and videos from their iPhoto and iMovie libraries as well as the stock photography that comes with Leopard and use those images as backdrops for Photo Booth pictures; the Leopard version of iChat includes a similar feature.

Photo Booth files will automatically appear in iPhoto on Mac OS X 10.5; currently, those images are housed in the Photo Booth folder within your Pictures folder A new burst effect lets users take four successive shots, presented in a four-up, interactive layout that can be animated with a click. And once Leopard arrives, Photo Booth will also be able to capture video in addition to still shots.PHILIP MICHAELS

Accessibility

What it is: Apple's tools for users with physical impairments get a major upgrade in Leopard. A new text-to-speech engine features a voice, Alex, that sounds far more natural than what Apple has offered previously. The VoiceOver screen-reading tool is also upgraded, and also supports Grade 2 contracted Braille devices.

What's changed: The new NumPad Commander lets you transform your keypad into quick access to commonly used VoiceOver commands. VoiceOver also lets you set hot spots over accessible windows and notifies you of any changes in those areas. QuickTime features improved closed-captioning support. And all your accessibility preferences can sync to your other Macs via .Mac.JASON SNELL

DVD Player

What it is: DVD Player is the OS X application that handles DVD movie playback. It didn't really get much press last year when Leopard's features were initially previewed, but Apple has sure made up for that this time.

What's new: DVD Player has received a major feature upgrade from its Tiger predecessor. A new full-screen interface gives you easy access to playback controls, subtitles, and alternative audio tracks, as well as image, color, and audio settings.

An Auto Zoom button scales the movie to remove the black bars (letterbox) from the image (it does so, of course, by trimming width from the picture). A playback position bar - similar to what you see in QuickTime Player - lets you quickly drag-scroll forward or backward to any point in the movie. Use the new image bar to save bookmark locations, images you'd like to see again, and even full video clips.

Once saved, you'll be able to see the bookmarks, images, and video clips any time you play that DVD again.ROB GRIFFITHS

Parental Controls

What it is: Mac OS X's feature that allows parents to limit the capabilities of specific accounts.

For example, Parental Controls can be used to restrict Mail and iChat to particular contacts; limit Safari browsing to parent-provided bookmarks; and limit the user's ability to change settings, burn discs, and hide "mature" words in the system-wide Dictionary.

What's Changed: Apple hasn't released many details about Leopard's version of Parental Controls, but from what we can glean from publicly-available information, Parental Controls in Leopard gets its own pane in System Preferences (rather than just a set of options in Accounts).

Whereas Tiger's version lets you limit an account' Web browsing to those sites manually entered by an administrator in Safari, Leopard adds a new content filter that actually intercepts Web pages and determines, on the fly, if each is "suitable for kids," blocking those that aren't.

(You can also use the Tiger approach to manually add sites that you want blocked or allowed, bypassing the content filter for those URLs.)

Leopard also adds time limits to Parental Controls: you can set up specific times during which a child is allowed to log in and use the Mac - with different times on weekdays than on weekends - as well as how long a Controlled account can be used at any one time.

Leopard can also log a Controlled account's activities to keep track of people with whom your child has e-mailed or chatted; which applications have been used; and which Web sites have been visited. You can even monitor a Controlled account from another Mac on your home network.DAN FRAKES

Quick links:

Mac OS X Leopard Desktop

Mac OS X Leopard Finder

Mac OS X Leopard Time Machine

Mac OS X Leopard Quick Look

Mac OS X Leopard Spaces

Mac OS X Leopard Safari

Mac OS X Leopard iChat

Mac OS X Leopard Automator

Mac OS X Leopard Mail

Mac OS X Leopard iCal

Mac OS X Leopard Dashboard

Mac OS X Leopard, the complete package

Apple Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Expert Verdict »

There are currently no technical specifications recorded for this product.

  • Ease of Use: We give this item 8 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 9 of 10 for features
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

We're pretty excited about what Leopard - Mac OS X 10.5 - will bring to the table. Most of the changes are incremental, but as any Mac user knows OS X is an excellent operating system anyway. These improvements suggest that Mac OS X 10.5 will be a must-have upgrade.

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.
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