Apple announced today that they will release the newest version of OSX – Snow Leopard this Friday.
This was definitely a little surprising, since earlier in June at WWDC they said Snow Leopard will be released sometime in Sept. The most attractive point of the OS is probably its extremely low price of $29 (or $35 CDN). But personally I think the price makes sense, “Snow Leopard” is really an incremental upgrade to Leopard, most of the new features are under the hood updates (64 bit, Native Microsoft Exchange Support, Optimized Codes -> Faster Apps, Less Resources).
I think it is really interesting that the upgrade actually frees up 7gb of drive space instead of hogging down the system (On the contrary of Vista). However I feel that most of the tech media have ignored a really cool feature in the new OS, the new “input method” of Chinese characters. One of the most frustrating IT thing I have experienced is the slow and tedious way of writing Chinese on a computer. Usually you have to use some sort of variation of a pinyin system; the computer usually is smart enough to guess a lot of the common words, but it just never worked right for me. When inputting short strings of words was fine (i.e. surfing tudou or something), but composing a long email is just plain unbearable. In this new method (note: only works with the newer multi-touch macbook/pro/air), you basically draw the character you want on the multi-touch track-pad, and the computer will show recommendation which then you can chose the correct one. This feature is absolutely innovative, and the UI for the input system looks great! Finally we can ditch this phonetic spelling pinyin system for good.
On a side note, there will be also an Mac Box Set for Tiger users to upgrade directly to Snow Leopard, and it will cost $169 if I am not mistaken. Unfortunately the new upgrade only supports Intel Based Macs (no upgrade for panther), and I guess this finally marks the end of the PowerPC era.