Apple's new Tiger roar
Alan Zisman (c) 2005 First published in Business
July 5- 11, 2005;
High Tech Office
foundation helps Apple's new Tiger roar
by Alan Zisman (c) 2005 First
published in Business in Vancouver July 5- 11, 2005; High Tech Office
Were you one of those who pondered
whether Certs was a breath mint or a candy mint? Even if you never
cared for such deep philosophical questions, you might wonder about
Apple. Is it a software company that happens to make stylish computers
and music players or is it a hardware company that also makes the
software needed to justify a high-priced niche for those Macs and iPods?
Take the company's OS X operating
system. While Microsoft inches toward a long-promised replacement for
2001's Windows XP, Apple has rolled out new versions of OS X every year
to 18 months. This spring, it presented Apple users with OS X 10.4, aka
Like earlier OS X incarnations, Tiger is
built on top of a Unix core, meaning it offers a level of security and
stability that Windows users can barely imagine. But unlike other
Unix-variants, Tiger is designed to be usable by mere mortals, while
still including under the hood all the tweak-ability prized by the
Like Windows, each new OS X version gets
bigger, packing in more features. Unlike Windows, each new version of
OS X has somehow managed to run faster than its predecessors. Tiger is
no exception. Apple is shipping it on a DVD disc (though CDs are
available if needed). Despite the added bulk, it runs at least as fast
as last season's OS X 10.3 Panther, with some features, such as display
of PDF files, noticeably faster.
Apple lists some 200 new features,
though not all will be obvious to most users.
Worth checking out, even if you're not a
Spotlight appears as a
little magnifying glass in the top-right corner of the menu bar. It's a
system-wide search tool. That doesn't sound too exciting. Macs and
Windows systems have had built-in search for years. Spotlight, however,
is fast: results start to appear before you finish typing. Searches are
configurable in a variety of ways; you might want to find all the
documents you worked on in the past week using Microsoft Word that
included the word "competition." Spotlight searches the content of
documents, e-mails, calendar and contact data and more. And you can
save the results as a continually updated "smart folder," perhaps
showing you everything you've worked on over the past seven days,
making your work impossible to lose. Spotlight is also integrated into
other operating system features like Apple's Mail application.
Dashboard is a set of little
programs ("widgets") running in the background. Click on an icon (or
press a hot key) and the set pops up, offering your choice of time,
calendar, weather, stock prices, dictionary definitions and more.
Hundreds of additional widgets are available. Many are free, letting
users get local traffic reports, track courier deliveries, find song
lyrics, access the Wikipedia online encyclopedia or watch a cartoon
hula dancer. Another press of a hot key and the widgets all return to
the background. Fun and potentially productive.
Automator, as the name
suggests, is a tool to automate repeated tasks. While the gurus amongst
us have long been able to write batch programs or scripts to run a
series of chores at once, Apple has made Automator usable by the rest
of us. (Automator is easy to miss; it's not in your face the way
Dashboard and Spotlight are. That's too bad. It has the potential to be
a real productivity enhancer).
Support for RSS news-feeds
within Apple's Safari Web browser. Multi-party video chat (at least on
G5 hardware). High-definition wide-screen video support in QuickTime.
New ways for the visually impaired to
control their computers using voice. Built-in parental controls for
home users; 193 more new and improved features.
Next time: Apple's a hardware company.
What's with this deal with Intel?