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There are a few other clear benefits to the new OS. The Mail client has been significantly beefed up, with more Search power (thanks to Spotlight) and a nicer user interface.
The built-in web browser, Safari, now renders faster and supports RSS feeds. There’s a system-wide automation tool, cunningly called Automator, that allows you to define macros to perform repetitive tasks, such as renaming files, anywhere across the OS. All of these help, but none of them are ground-breaking.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, there are a couple of technologies that will make a difference to the average OSX user. For starters, Apple has gone further down the route it started out on in Jaguar, by enhancing the Quartz technology that powers the user interface for OSX with a further feature, Core Image. In this latest version, each aspect of the desktop and user interface – the windows, the icons, the shadows, the transparency – is rendered, where possible, by the graphics card in the system. By utilising the power of the graphics hardware, these tasks can be taken off the CPU, with the net result that system performance is increased – and because graphics cards are tailor-made for doing whiz-bang-fancy routines, there are some graphical enhancements for users with a supported graphics card. The basic specs are a Radeon 9600-class card, which most new Macs now ship with.
There is support for the H.264 video codec – the latest iteration of MPEG 4 – in Apple’s Core Video technology. The efficiency of this codec allows OSX to support multi-way video conferences through the instant messaging client iChat AV, as well as playing back High Definition video content encoded in H.264.