At the Worldwide Developers Conference 2006 in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave the public and developers the first public look at Leopard, also known as Mac OS X 10.5 -- the next version of the Apple operating system, which will be available next autumn. Though he made clear there remained many "top secret" features and technologies to the OS, Jobs and other Apple executives outlined a dozen features that will be new and improved over the current OS. For a look inside, see our Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard preview slide show.
Perhaps the most intriguing new feature for developers and end users alike is the Time Machine, a totally new, automatic backup and version-control application. That might sound decidedly not sexy, but Time Machine marries powerful potential with an interface that makes most of the proposed Vista user-interface features look old hat. Selecting an item and invoking Time Machine replaces the standard interface with a starry background, a time scale on the right, and past versions of the item floating "behind" the current version. Users can scroll back in time and review past versions; when they find the desired one, they can drag it to the present. Time Machine can also automatically back up entire systems, along with any changes made to an external hard drive or a server. Apple claims that even if your hard drive dies, you can use Time Machine to restore your system to a new drive.
iChat AV, Apple's instant-messaging and videoconferencing application, will gain features such as multiple logins, tabbed chats, video recording, and invisibility. Also, the new iChat Theater feature will allow users to present iPhoto slide shows, Keynote presentations, QuickTime movies and more to their chat buddies.
Leopard will also support virtual desktops, known as Spaces. Jobs demonstrated with four of these and showed how you can see all of them at once and even drag applications from one to another.
Spotlight, Universal Access and Mail will also be revised, with the last gaining stationery, notes, and system-wide To Do capabilities.
Leopard will include true 64-bit support, all the way from the lowest levels of the operating system to application user interfaces. This will not apply to most existing Intel-based Macs, though, as the Intel Core Duo supports only 32 bit. However, Leopard will offer full 32-bit compatibility. Jobs also mentioned that Leopard will be a "complete package," with applications currently in beta, such as Boot Camp, and previously separate applications all bundled as one. Jobs also said Leopard will offer a new level of parental controls and that the iCal calendaring application will gain full multiuser abilities, although neither app was demonstrated at the conference.