Leopard First Looks

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First Look: Leopard first looks: The rest

Editor’s Note: We wrap up our series on the previewed features in Leopard, with a quick look at a trio of features that Steve Jobs touched on during his Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

Not every feature planned for OS X 10.5 received an extensive demo during last week’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote —a few were just mentioned in passing by Apple CEO Steve Jobs and the other executives who shared the stage with him. While these features may not have the marquee value of Time Machine or enhancements to iChat and Dashboard, they’re still worth noting for what they’ll add to Leopard.

Apple’s “Complete Package”

What it is In the past year, Apple has produced a trio of applications—the photo effects software Photo Booth, the multimedia management tool Front Row, and Boot Camp, which lets you install and run Windows XP on an Intel-based Mac. The first two apps haven’t been available to all Mac users—Photo Booth has only come installed on Macs equipped with iSight cameras, while Front Row has been limited to Intel-based Macs and the iMac G5s released last fall. Boot Camp is a beta program that you’ve had to go out and download yourself. Starting with Leopard, all three of those programs will be included with OS X, making them freely available to all Mac users (although PowerPC-based Mac owners won’t get much use out of Boot Camp).

And?

And…that’s it. Look, we’re as puzzled as you are about why Steve Jobs included this among the 10 Leopard features previewed in his Worldwide Developers Conference keynote while relegating a much-enhanced version of iCal to “Oh yeah, I nearly forgot…” status.

If the prospect of adding three existing programs to the bundle you get from OS X 10.5 isn’t necessarily the most exciting development, it certainly is a welcome one. Mac users without recently purchased hardware have two options when it comes to Photo Booth and Front Row: do without or download a cracked version. With Leopard, they’ll be able to obtain both programs legitimately for nothing beyond the cost of upgrading to OS X 10.5. And while anyone can download the Boot Camp beta now, it’ll be more convenient to upgrade to Leopard and just have the dual-booting application be there.

(This kind of maneuver by Apple is not unprecedented. If you recall, iMovie made its debut as a bundled app on the iMac DV; midway through 2000, the company made the movie-editing application available as a free download.)

What’s missing With a few exceptions, Apple has been cagey about what to expect from these applications when they appear as part of Leopard. The company says it will expand the number of cameras Photo Booth works with—but did not say whether to expect any new features or effects to be added with Leopard. Apple has confirmed that the Apple Remote that controls Front Row won’t work on machines without an infrared port—creating an opportunity for third-party developers to supply their own solution—but hasn’t said much else about the software. And while it’s a safe bet that Boot Camp will be out of beta form and a finished product when it appears with Leopard, there are no other details about what to expect in that finished version.

Who’s it for Basically, everybody with a Mac. The new software won’t appeal to everyone—I can’t imagine spending a minute of my life with Photo Booth, just as I’m sure there are some Mac users who have no interest in booting into Windows XP on their Mac Pros or MacBooks. But with Leopard, at least, everyone will have the option of sampling this software if they choose.

Parental controls

What it is OS X currently offers some modest controls via a tab in the Accounts preferences pane of System Preferences. Using these controls, parents can place limits on which apps specific users accounts can run and whether they’re permitted to perform certain tasks such as burning CDs and DVDs, modifying the Dock, administering printers, and so forth. More specific options let parents control apps like iChat (permitting who kids can chat with), Safari (listing which Web sites they can surf to), Mail (limiting outgoing mail to specific addresses), and Dictionary (blocking certain words including profanity).

Clearly some parents found these controls to be wanting, as Apple touts the changes to this area under the heading of “Because you said so” on its Leopard preview page. The promised enhancements include more flexibility, the ability to restrict Internet use, and the power to specify when and how long kids can use certain applications. Apple also promises a remote setup feature that lets parents set controls from anywhere.

What’s missing That’s about it, as far as details go. The parental controls feature barely rated a mention from Jobs in his keynote, and the Leopard Web site devotes less than 50 words to the topic. If we can be forgiven some rampant speculation, the presence of a specific logo (pictured on the right) makes us wonder if parental controls will get a pane of its own in Leopard’s system preferences.

Who’s it for Parents who feel limited by OS X’s existing controls will want to give this feature a look see once Leopard ships. Others will likely go on ignoring its existence.

A few words about Xcode 3.0

What it is If it seems strange that Apple would give short shrift to a new version of Xcode, its free graphical development environment, at a keynote primarily attended by developers, remember that the audience also included many reporters breathlessly awaiting Steve Jobs’ next revelation. And us reporter types tend to get fidgety when the keynote talk turns to under-the-hood concepts that can’t be parsed into easy-to-digest soundbites. Also, once the reporters were shooed away, Apple doubtlessly spent considerable time briefing developers about Xcode in the many not-for-public-disclosure sessions that make up WWDC.

To summarize the major changes then, this version of Xcode adds inline message bubbles (think iChat) to show build errors, breakpoint definitions, and debug values, along with the applicable source code. There’s a new Interface Builder, which Apple says will let developers perform refactoring operations and add animations to their apps. A new feature, Xray, uses a GarageBand-style interface to track and compare user-event and performance metrics such as read/write actions, UI events, and CPU load.

[ Philip Michaels is the executive editor of Macworld.com. ]

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