[Review] Mac OS X 10.11 EI Capitan: New Features Preview

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We take a look at the features that are coming in OS X El Capitan, including new features in Mail, Safari and Notes, and performance improvements thanks to Metal.

Mac OS X El Capitan preview: what to expect from OS X 10.11

El Capitan is a rock formation inside the Yosemite National Park, and OS X El Capitan is, as its name suggests, an enhancement to Yosemite, in the same way as Snow Leopard offered an enhancement to Leopard. Apple’s primary focus with this release is to be performance and stability, both of which should speed up tasks on a Mac – in fact Apple is claiming that older Macs will see significant performance improvements.

If that sounds boring to you, you’ll be glad to hear there will be a few new features and some much needed updates to the accompanying software and the user interface.

Interface changes in El Captian: Mission Control & Split View

You’ll be able to choose to hide not only the Dock but also the Menu bar at the top of the screen, particularly useful with small screen laptops. Also, Mission Control has been revamped: when you enter Mission Control (usually by pressing F3) you’ll be able to see all the documents you have open as used to be the case in Exposé in earlier versions of OS X – in Yosemite documents associated with apps are gathered together, overlapping each other so it’s harder to select the Word document you wish to edit. Now all the thumb nails are distributed so you can see each individually. This change makes us very happy!

There’s also a new full-screen mode called Split View that lets you have more than one app open at once.

Split View in El Capitan will allow you to run two apps side by side, it’s like the full screen mode that arrived in OS 10.7 Lion, but you can now view two apps at once.

It is probably the case that most people who don’t use full screen mode don’t use it because they are frequently switching between two apps, so this new Split View may appeal to them.

To use split-screen view, click and hold on the green ‘maximise’ button in the window’s title bar and choose which side of the screen to display the app. Then you will see a Mission Control view on the other side of the screen, allowing you to choose the currently open window you wish to see in Split View.

In the public beta of El Capitan the Split View has its fair share of quirks, which is to be expected, it’s a beta after all. One issue is that it’s not always clear which app is active. This is because you won’t see the window title bar or toolbar unless you move the curser to the top of the screen. If you are lucky you may spot the curser blinking in one of the apps.

Spotlight in El Capitan

Also getting a significant change is Spotlight, Apple’s tool for searching you Mac. One of the criticisms of Spotlight in Yosemite was that Apple moved it to the centre of the screen from the right hand corner, this gave Spotlight more space for its results, but people were frustrated that the Spotlight window couldn’t be moved from its new location. Well that’s changing in El Capitan – you will be able to click on the Spotlight result box and move it around the screen. We are disappointed that when you click away from the Spotlight results the box vanishes though – we often find ourselves having to jot down conversions from Spotlight so we can copy them into a document we are working on. Now the box can be moved out of the way it is only logical that we should be able to keep it on the screen if we want to. You can also resize the results window.

Spotlight is also getting natural language search – which hints that Siri may be coming to the Mac. You’ll be able to construct your search query in a more colloquial way, for example: “documents I wrote in July” or “emails sent by Ashleigh”. The move towards natural-language queries makes a lot of sense because many people search using natural language queries because they don’t know how to search any other way; just look at the way people search Google.

Spotlight is also gaining access to weather, stocks, sports, travel, and web video.

Photos for Mac in El Capitan

There were a lot of missing features in Photos 1.0 for Mac when it launched, luckily Apple appears to be addressing that in the new version coming with El Capitan.

Most significant is the ability to edit image data both individually and in batches. You’ll be able to add location information, batch-organise faces and batch-change title.

You’ll also find more flexibility for sorting albums – currently it’s date only, but you’ll be able to search by date, title and more. Photos will also support third-party image-editing extensions.

Safari in El Capitan

Safari is getting a few tweaks. The changes in the version of Safari that will arrive with El Capitan (Safari 9) aren’t as massive as those that arrived with Yosemite, but they will have an immediate effect on how you browse the web.

The Mute Tab is perhaps the new feature that will make the biggest impact when you are browsing the web. If you have multiple tabs open and amongst those tabs are a few websites that are playing audio, you will be able to tell which webpages are responsible for the audio just by looking at the tab. The biggest annoyance right now if probably not being able to identify which tab is responsible for the audio that’s playing, now you will be easily able to mute the audio on any noisy tabs. Just tap on the sound icon to mute the audio associated with that tab.

Alternatively click and hold the sound icon to see a contextual menu, which gives you a chance to mute all the tabs in Safari from one place.

Another new feature in Safari in El Capitan is the ability to ‘Pin’ websites. To pin a site, go to the site you wish to pin, and select Window > Pin Tab. Now the site’s icon will appear on the left of the Tab bar. It’s possible to remove a Pinned Site, just click on the pinned icon, and when the page opens select Window > Unpin Tab. Pinned sites are a little like bookmarks.

You may be wondering what you gain from pinning favourite websites, after all you can already add them to your Favourites and Hot Sites. One reason to pin a site you frequently access is that the site will be updated in the background, meaning it will always have the latest content loaded up when you open the browser. If you clicks on a link in a pinned site that leads to another page on that site the page will be loaded in the pinned site’s tab, but if it’s an external link it will open in a separate tabs, keeping your pinned site right where it is.

Also new in Safari are some new display preferences in the Safari Reader view. In the Yosemite version of Safari, you could make the text larger or smaller, in El Capitan you will be able to also choose from four colour themes and eight typefaces.

Safari is also getting some improved AirPlay integration with the Apple TV. For example, you will see an AirPlay icon on any video that is compatible for streaming via AirPlay. Just click on this icon to stream the video to your TV via your Apple TV (assuming you have one). This will send just the video, you won’t need to mirror your whole screen. We tested a YouTube video in the Safari 9 beta, the video showed an AirPlay icon beside the Full Screen icon, so far we haven’t been successful sending it to the Apple TV – but we think that is due to a bug in the beta.

There are also some change to the Develop menu, which will be helpful for web developers at least. You can activate it in Safari Preferences > Advanced. One of the new sections is Responsive Design Mode. It allows web designers and developers to see how a site will look on different iOS devices and screen resolutions.

Keyboard shortcuts in Safari will act slightly differently. If you press Command-1, Command-2, Command-3, etc., on the keyboard it will open the tabs in the Tab bar rather than bookmarks in the Favorites Bar – this includes any Pinned Sites. If you had set up Favorite sites to open to a command press this could be frustrating. Luckily, the keyboard shortcuts for the Favorites Bar are still available, but now you need to press Command-Option-1, Command-Option-2, Command-Option-3, etc.

In Preferences > Extensions you will find a new checkbox for automatically updating extensions from the Safari Extensions Gallery. And the View menu has a new Show Sidebar selection.

Notes in El Capitan

I often use Notes on my Mac when I want to have a document that appears quickly and easily on my iPhone and iPad as well as my Mac. While it’s easy to share things via iCloud the fact that this just works makes it appealing.

Unfortunatly, Notes 3, in Yosemite, doesn’t do very much. The formatting tools are basic. You can add images but other files will just appear as inactive attachments. It’s a popular app, but probably only because it syncs with iOS, not because it’s any good. Luckily Apple is giving it some attention in El Capitan.

Coming in El Capitan is Notes 4 and it offers a lot more features, in fact it could be said to be becoming more like Evernote or any one of the wealth of apps in the App Store that help you take notes, create lists, and more. When you open the app you’ll see three panes, first is the folders, then a view of the Notes in that folder, then the Note itself.

Your be glad to hear that there are quite a few more changes to the app to go along with this new view. First up you can now add videos, audio, and even PDFs to a note and view them there.

There’s also an attachment browser, another thing that makes it more like Evernote. This browser makes it easy to view any attachments you have added to notes, along with web links and map locations.

Another new feature in Notes is the ability to make a checklist. Just select the items in your note and click on Make a Checklist.

One more thing, you’ll notice that the Share button in El Capitan includes Notes, so now you can send items to the Notes app. Probably the quickest way to get anything from your Mac onto your iPhone.

Another change: the way that Notes synced with iOS in iOS 8 was different to the way it will sync in iOS 9. Rather than using the iCloud infrastructure to sync, like every other app on your Apple devices, Notes connected to a special IMAP mailbox in one of your connected email accounts. In El Capital  Notes will get the full iCloud treatment, you’ll still be able to sync via IMAP if you must, but there will be advanced features – such as checklists – if you use iCloud.

We are glad to see that Apple is giving Notes some attention in El Capitan.

Mail in El Capitan

With El Capitan, Mail is getting a big update. Many of the changes will be familiar to iPhone and iPad users, while others should speed up day-to-day use of the app.

It will be easier to juggle multiple email messages in Mail 9. For example, if you are composing an email and want to check another message you can minimize the email you are drafting so that it goes to the bottom of the screen (similar to the way it works on iOS 8), access your email inbox, and find the other message that you want to use.

Are you so popular that there are multiple email threads taking over your inbox? In Mail 9 it’s easy to manage more than one email conversation, switching between active email threads using tabs – similar to Safari tabs. This makes it easy to locate the message threads that matter.  The new natural language search also shows up in Mail, making searching for “emails from Ashleigh with photos attached” easier than ever.

Swipe gestures in Mail for El Capitan make is easy to mark an email as unread, for example. Presuming you have a trackpad, it works in the same way as on the iPhone: Swipe left to delete a message, swipe right to mark it as read. We’d like to see a few more gestures here, such as the ability to send a message to the archive or the ability to swipe to flag a message.

Data detectors mean Mail will volunteer to add events to your calendar and contacts to your contact database, this isn’t a new feature, but it is improved in El Capitan Mail. For example, Mail now adds banners in between the address field and the body of the message with data it’s detected and possible actions to take. In another attempt to be useful, Mail will note that the email of the person who emailed you isn’t in your Address Book and will offer to add it.

Mail also uses Natural Language search, another feature new to El Capitan. So, you can type: “Show me emails with ‘El Capitan’ in the subject line” and that’s what you’ll get. This change will make searching for “emails from Ashleigh with photos attached” easier than ever. It’s a lot more like the way you speak to Siri (which makes us wonder if Siri will eventually make it to the Mac.)

IMAP support should also improve in Mail 9, giving it a new engine that makes it twice as fast, according to Apple. Mail will also better prioritize message downloads, so you shouldn’t have to wait for Mail to synchronize your messages before you can read any of them. Ideal if you are on a slow WiFi connection. Mail will prioritize new Mail in your Inbox, or will first download the messages of the mailbox you are currently viewing.

Speed boosts in El Capitan

Apple claims that in El Capitan, apps launch up to 40 percent faster, switching between apps takes half the time, and opening PDFs is up to four times faster.

Some of these speed boosts are due Apple’s decision to bring Metal, the high-speed graphics technology launched on iOS last year, to the Mac.

Metal is the graphics technology that was introduced in iOS 8. Metal will bring improved game performance and improved performance in processor hungry apps. Adobe has already committed to adopting Metal for its OS X apps and demonstrated how Metal has improved After Effects and Illustrator. Autodesk and The Foundry have also committed to using Metal and it is thought that using Metal will also drastically speed up the likes of Autodesk’s Maya.

Metal for OS X is also great news if you’re a Mac gamer: major game developers have already confirmed commitment to Metal, including Unity and Blizzard, as well as Feral and Aspyr who specialize in bringing Windows games to the Mac. Along with the performance enhancements coming in El Capital we expect Metal to have a real impact on this sort of processor intensive work.

Original source: http://www.macworld.co.uk/review/mac-software/mac-os-x-el-capitan-preview-review-3613524/

Note for TunesKit DRM M4V Converter for Mac Users

Once the beta version of 10.11 EI Capitan was released, many users of TunesKit M4V Converter for Mac, an ultimate DRM removal solution for iTunes M4V movies, would began to wonder whether TunesKit is compatible with the latest EI Capitan yet. Actually if you are Apple developers who are using the developer version of EI Capitan, you should be relieved since TunesKit is proved to be fully compatible with the most up-to-date release of EI Capitan according to our test. However, if you are using the public release instead of the developer release, you should be noticed that there might be some problems in using TunesKit for Mac on the EI Capitan. In this case, we would suggest you either downgrade your Mac to the previous 10.10.5 or wait until the official version of 10.11 is released.

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