What you need to know about OS X El Capitan

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Right on time and as expected, Apple has announced a new flavour of OS X at WWDC for release later this year. Going by the admittedly goofy name of El Capitan, the upcoming desktop operating system is ringing in a few changes for users. This is what you’re going to be looking forward to in OS X 10.11.

Spotlight has a bigger.. er… spotlight

SpotlightApple’s given Spotlight a few more capabilities for El Capitan, notably the ability to use natural language to create your search terms. This isn’t restricted to your operating system either, natural language search terms will function through Apple’s apps as well. So you’ll be able to ask things like “Where are the files I was working on last week?” and Spotlight will be able to give you an answer. Apple Senior Vice President Craig Federighi demoed this particular function onstage at WWDC.

Also of interest is the ability to resize Spotlight, a minor change but a welcome one, and the use of several open compose tabs in Mail.

Split your screen, double your productivity

SplitThat whole split-screen apps thing we were hearing about? Yeah, that’s happening. Apple has arranged matters so users can drag one app next to another and the two will snap together – shades of Windows 8.1 there, we feel, but that’s okay. This should boost our productivity by letting use do two things at once. Actually, who are we kidding? Work and a social media feed next to each other? We’re never going to get any work done.

Users will also be able to drag apps and windows to the top of the screen to create new desktops and Safari will also let you pin tabs. At last.

Apple Maps gets (public) transport and train times

TrainNot such a huge deal here at home but Apple’s Maps app is adding public transportation at last. Google already has it, but it’s limited here in SA and we expect the same to be true to a greater extent for Apple’s offering.

Still, if you’re in one the supported-at-launch cities for any length of time, Apple Maps will make sure that you will get to your train on time. Transit will get you to the correct entrance for your Industrial Revolution transfer to a hotel or holiday destination by offering directions on where you should go within the station.

El Capitan is getting better gaming chops

MetalWe’re just reporting what Apple says on this one, don’t go expecting an El Capitan installation to magically install a gaming GPU in your MacBook. But improved gaming capability will be present, if you have the hardware for it. Apple’s moved Metal, their mobile gaming tech, to the desktop and this will result in improvements in “system-level rendering by up to 50% [and] efficiency by up to 40%”. How? By combining “the computing power of OpenCL and the graphics power of OpenGL in a high-performance API that does both”, according to Apple’s Craig Federighi. Translation: Mac should get better at gaming – time to splash for a GPU-sporting model, we think.

It’s available now. And later

AvailableIf you’re a developer, then OS X El Capitan is available for preview now. But not everybody’s a developer so how does the average person get in on El Capitan early? Easy, there’s going to be a wider beta in July this year, which you can sign up for now. Judging by the demand from last year’s test, it’s best to book early to avoid disappointment. Just be prepared for some hinky performance – it’s called a test for a reason.

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