Apple debuted its newest operating system, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, at the Worldwide Developers Conference back in June. This new operating system builds on the features and design changes that were introduced with OS X Yosemite and while El Capitan may seem like an odd name, it is meant to highlight the operating system’s position as an update that brings under-the-hood improvements and refinements to OS X Yosemite.
In terms of reality, El Capitan is one of the most popular rock formations and landmarks located within the Yosemite National Park. The El Capitan name for OS X 10.11 hearkens back to a long-running OS X naming scheme that is used to denote updates that are refinements to previous updates. Other similar name changes include Leopard to Snow Leopard and Lion to Mountain Lion.
El Capitan shows that Apple is focusing on two major areas: the user experience and performance. Improvements to things like apps, window management, and Spotlight search enhance the way people use their Macs. In addition to that, the under-the-hood additions, like Metal graphics technology, make everyday activities like launching apps much faster.
El Capitan doesn’t change up its aesthetic too much, keeping the same general look as Yosemite. However, it does include a new system-wide font known as San Francisco. OS X’s window management feature, Mission Control, has also been given an upgrade and introduces a Split View feature that mimics the iOS 9 multitasking feature on the iPad. This features also allows for two full-screen apps to be used simultaneously side-by-side.
Spotlight search will now support natural language input with El Capitan as well as gaining deeper functionality and more sources. Safari has also gained Pinned Sites, which will allow users to pin favorite websites on the tab bar. There’s also a nifty new mute button that will mute all sound coming from Safari or quickly identify specific tabs playing audio.
Mail also supports new iOS-style gestures for managing messages while a Smart Suggestions addition will recognize names and events for quick additions to contacts and calendars. Moreover, whenever you are in full screen, there will also be tools that deal with multiple emails one at a time.
Another thing that is gaining support with El Capitan is Photos. Photos will now support third-party photo editing extensions from Mac App Store apps. The Notes app is also being revamped, much like the Notes app for iOS 9 was. This new app will support checklists, content from other apps like Safari or Maps, and an Attachment Browser.
In terms of performance, the addition of Metal improves speeds for the Mac by increasing system-level graphics rendering. This graphics improvement, along with other enhancements, allows many standard apps to perform better and also allows games and pro apps to see significant performance boosts as well.
OS X 10.11 El Capitan was given to developers back in June right after the Worldwide Developers Conference. On July 9, Apple began offering OS X El Capitan to public beta testers. Since then, Apple has given out eight El Capitan betas to developers along with six betas to public beta testers with each one adding small tweaks and improvements to the operating system. The operating system is supposed to be available to consumers sometime this Fall.
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