News for Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Inside Leopard

By linathael. Original by Yoc - 12/06/2007 17:17:27 CEST - Category: Apple
Despite the redesigned GUI, marking a real change from previous version of OS X, we should now look one step further, and focus on what is inside Leopard.
First, it is a true 64-bit system while remaining fully compatible with 32-bit applications. Let's face it, Apple engineers have successfully designed a 64-bit system with a native back-compatibility to 32-bit, something achieved by neither Microsoft nor Linux. Both Windows and Linux distributions are available in 32-bits or 64-bits. Once more, Apple thought about the end user who does not want to care or think about if its application is a 32-bit -encoded one or not. Even though the immediate impact on performance level might be limited to Pro users, editing and rendering large photos and video files will be faster.
Core Animation brings Core technology for audio, video and image, allowing developers to easily add eye-catching effect on their 2D application. One will have to wait for the first applications taking advantage of such technology to evaluate if it is really useful or only a good-looking gadget.
Apple wants to bring multi core support. With Intel transition, almost all hardware models are featuring Dual or Quad Core CPUs. Even so Mac OS X is multicore aware since 10.0 (even from Mac OS 9 with the proper system extension), Apple wants to push it further and help developers. One way is to offer technology allowing developers not to think about multicore management or defining multithreaded tasks, as Cocoa will take care of it., Address Book and Font Utility are already coded this way. One will have to test Leopard and those applications to check if it brings a strong benefit, but for sure some iApps or Apple-branded applications will benefit of such system-managed multithreading.
On the Unix side, Leopard is "UNIX 03"-certified. In other words, it follows the last standard guide lines, including specifications for compiling programs developed for other UNIX 03-labelled Unix (Solaris 10, AIX 5.3, HP-UX...). Linux is not UNIX-certified but it tries to reach all standard defined in UNIX 03.
Among other interesting features found inside Leopard Unix:
- automatic TCP optimization: The system automatically adapts the size of the buffer depending on the type of connection. If we will probably not see it with our current internet connection, it will be a noticeable advantage for high-bandwidth connection users.
- Multicore optimization of several system components, including the network layer.
- DTrace, originating from Solaris, allows a fine tuning of resources when debugging software.
Apple also worked on security with Leopard, even though we are much less exposed then Windows users:
- one can launch an application in "sandbox" mode, defining exactly the files and resources to be used/modified.
- as previously mentioned today, file sharing is made easier but also safer as one can quickly define the rights associated to a file or a folder. You can even define it for contacts in your Address Book.
- Leopard is able to identify and report to the user/administrator if an application has been modified from its installation.
With so many new features, the Developer Tools have evolved and XCode is now available in version 3.0 while Objective-C is now in version 2.0. The integration of DTrace also leads to the introduction of a new graphic tool named, Xray, and designed to be deeply integrated in future applications.
As we noticed it already yesterday, there is no mention about ZFS, was it a voluntary leak to internally spot the source spreading information outside Cupertino, nobody knows yet.
To conclude, Leopard brings so many new features and improvement that it can not be compared to previous updates, this is not only a new graphic or rendering design, associated to some gadgets; this is a deeper evolution opening the door to future (r)evolutions.

TransGaming Cider to Accelerate the Release of EA Games on Macs

By linathael. Original by Yoc - 12/06/2007 09:44:36 CEST - Category: Software
During the keynote, Steve Jobs invited a representative from electronic Arts to announce the future availability of the most popular games from EA on Mac in the coming weeks, among them Command & Conquer 3, Battlefield 2142, Need for Speed Carbon, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Will this mean that game editors are back and aiming to invest for the Mac market? Yes and no.
Behind this announcement there is a technology, Wine, and its game oriented application known as Cider, from the company TransGaming. This technology will be used to "repack" PC games in Mac format. There is no need to rewrite the code of games, as Cider will make most of the work by translating on the fly DirectX, OpenGL or normal APIs. So porting a game from Pc to Mac will take couple of weeks instead of months if not years before, when code had to be rewritten (where is Colin McRae 2005?).
Games might not be as stable as on PC (at the beginning), and nobody knows what will be the price of such ported games vs. PC version, as the integrated Boot Camp on Mac Intel will allow users to play them anyway.
The success of game stations has taken part of the game market share from the PC, and it remains unclear how this field will evolve in the future. If those ported games will not be fully Mac-native, we should be happy to have them coming to our platform, as it might have never been the case without Cider.
Last but not least, one will need an Intel-based Mac to run such games.
Below is part of Transgaming/EA Press release about it:
Redwood City, Calif., and TORONTO, Canada – June 11, 2007 - Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) has announced plans to bring top-tier games to MAC OS X this summer powered by TransGaming’s Cider™ engine, including: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix™, Madden NFL® 08, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® 08, Need for Speed™ Carbon, Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars™ and Battlefield 2142™. TransGaming Inc. (TSX-V: TNG), a Canadian-based leader in software portability, has opened up new playing fields for Mac users.
“Traditionally Mac users had to wait to play the latest blockbuster games,” says TransGaming CEO Vikas Gupta. “We're thrilled that TransGaming's Cider engine will dramatically decrease the time it will take to bring EA's hit portfolio of games to a thirsty Mac market.”
“Leveraging TransGaming’s Cider technology to bring our hit franchises to Mac users is an exciting first step in delivering the video game experience that Mac users deserve,” said Scott Cronce, EA vice president. “With the launch of these titles, it truly is the best time to be a Mac gamer.”
Helping quench Mac gamers’ thirst is Cider, the revolutionary new technology, developed by TransGaming that enables the releases. Eliminating the need to rewrite a video game for the Mac, Cider acts as an interpreter between the game’s original code and the Intel Mac, imparting a great user experience on the Mac.

iTunes Store: Movies to Rent?

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 12/06/2007 09:23:01 CEST - Category: iPod - Source:
According to the Financial Times, Apple would be negotiating with one of the Hollywood majors to introduce a renting offer on iTunes Store. The movie would be playable for 30 days, and it would cost US$2.99.
We did not get any further details from our sources, but it would of course be an excellent news for the Apple TV as it would provide an additional feature to the device. Of course one will need to be sure that the video will be available in HD, while not taking hours to be downloaded, then if users like it, the sales of the Apple TV might finally take off.

iPhone Addicts Are Getting Ready

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 12/06/2007 09:21:48 CEST - Category: iPhone - Source:
Some users seem to be ready to all maneuvers to get an iPhone, a Californian will be camping in front of a shop to be sure to get one. This example illustrates how Apple has successfully played with news networks by releasing some details, specifications, but not to much to keep the buzz running. Expectations are so high that Apple does not really need to launch ads campaign as the iPhone is mentioned by all news channels.
As usual, some people try to manipulate users, by offering the iPhone in pre-order (especially in Switzerland) while others have launched offers on eBay. The website has quickly reacted by blocking all on-going deals related to the iPhone.
It remains quite amazing that such a buzz can be created while nobody has really tested the product, or evaluated the quality of the device for playing music, video or simply making a call.

MacBook Pro: 128 or 256MB VRAM?

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 12/06/2007 09:21:23 CEST - Category: Mac Intel
Barefeats compared performance of a MacBook Pro 2.2GHz 128MB VRAM vs. a 2.4GHz model featuring 256MB VRAM.
Test were performed using different games, and both the notebook display (at 1200x800 and 1440x900) and on an external display (1920x1200).
Results do not need much comments, as doubling the VRAM does not provide any advantages, marginal higher performance of the fastest model is directly linked to the higher clocked CPU. To benefit from 256MB of VRAM, one needs to play GPU-demanding games or use an external display.
With leopard and the integrated Core animation, and GPU-based rendering it might be another story.

Leopard: Redesigned GUI

By linathael. Original by Yoc - 12/06/2007 09:19:49 CEST - Category: Apple
Let's have a look at the GUI, concentrating on details that Steve did not mention; despite the fact it will come up immediately the first time you will launch Leopard 10.5: new Finder and new desktop.
The desktop has been redesigned. The menu bar is now transparent, and the dock can be displayed with a rather nice projection effect applied to both icons and windows. The long rumored stacks are finally there, after having been filed and patented by Apple. You can now drag and drop several documents together in the dock to associate them as a stack. By clicking on the representative icon, you will deploy the stack and be able to click the one you need. downloaded files with Safari as well as attached files in mails will automatically be piled up in stack in the dock.

The redesigned Finder looks like iTunes 7, and this is not only for an esthetic point of view, as files and folders will be organized the same way the music browser is. You can even review files with Cover Flow the same way you browse album covers in iTunes.

Sharing files between 2 Macs has also been revisited to make it as simple as sharing music between 2 computers with iTunes. In addition, if authorized, one can take control of a distant computer, similarly to Apple Remote Desktop or Timbuktu.
Boolean attributes are now supported in spotlight, and one can search a document by date or with part of its content.
Do not hesitate to have a look at them, you can watch video on Apple website.

WWDC 2007 Keynote Address Available

By linathael. Original by Yoc - 12/06/2007 09:05:21 CEST - Category: Apple
If you could not join us yesterday for the live coverage of Steve's keynote, you can now watch him presenting Leopard in details: WWDC 2007 Keynote
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