All the details on OS X 10.11 and iOS 9 from Apple’s developer conference in San Francisco
XThe next version of OS X shares its name with a famous rock formation within Yosemite national park. Think of El Capitan being to Yosemite as Snow Leopard was to Leopard: similar on the surface, but with a strong focus on improving the performance of your Mac (El Capitan will run on the same hardware as its predecessor). However, performance hasn’t been Apple’s sole focus for this version. It also says that your experience of using a Mac to get things done will improve. In fact, there’s much cause for excitement, especially if your Mac is more than three years old at this point, in which case you might have been disappointed that major features of Yosemite – Handoff and cross-platform AirDrop with iOS – aren’t available to you. The features demonstrated at WWDC included many small, useful tweaks that should reduce, or even remove, long-standing frictions of working with a Mac.
Chief among the improvements is a dramatic simplification for working with two apps side-by-side, which we talk about on page 22. Between that and Safari’s new features, it feels like Apple is finally getting around to dealing with very real frustrations in OS X. The Safari web browser at last gives you the power to mute noisy pages, and to do so selectively so you don’t miss out on cues from web apps. When a site is emitting sound, its tab and the Smart Search Field both display a speaker icon. The one in the Smart Search Field serves as a master volume control for all tabs, with options to mute all tabs or specific ones – a useful degree of control if you use web apps that use sound to inform you of things like the arrival of new messages or a meeting request.
It’s easier to keep websites and web apps you depend upon to hand. All you need to do is drag a tab to the left of the tab bar, which reduces it to a smaller tab bearing just the site’s icon. Pinned sites remain in place even after you close and then reopen Safari.
Safari also works better with AirPlay in those moments when you want to stream a video – handy at home on the sofa and especially in presentations where you might not want people to
It feels like Apple is finally getting around to dealing with very real frustrations in OS X
see everything else that’s on your screen. Apple says you only need to click the AirPlay icon that appears on compatible videos, by which we expect it means of the HTML5 variety; don’t expect to use this on sites that haven’t moved with the times. Relegated to a bullet point in Apple’s keynote, the font used by the elegant Safari Reader feature is now customisable.
In recent versions, OS X has adopted elements of iOS – the Share menu, Notification Center and the Photos app among them. El Capitan’s version of Mail continues this shift towards consistent behaviour so that you can easily move between Macs and iOS devices. Rather than having to get into the mindset to use keyboard shortcuts, or move the pointer between the message list and the toolbar, you can simply swipe rightwards on a message to mark it as unread, or leftwards to trash it. This appears to make triaging your mail much quicker, though there’s still the issue of building up muscle memory to swipe using more fingers when doing this on a Mac.
Apple’s making a big deal about new fonts and input methods for its customers in China and Japan, but our cousins in the east aren’t alone in getting typographic treats. One of El Capitan’s subtler changes is a new system font, just one year after Helvetica Neue ousted Lucida Grande. In fact, iOS and watchOS will also feature variations of the San Francisco font family found in OS X. Currently, Apple has made beta versions of them available only for developers. In the meantime, you can watch a WWDC video that explains the new font’s design: http://bit.ly/mfwwdcfonttalk.
With Safari in El Capitan you can, at last, mute those annoying noisy web pages.