OS X 10.11 El Capitan
Update: OS X 10.11 El Capitan get its first update to fix a boatload of issues, read on to find out which ones will affect our OS X 10.11 El Capitan review.
It’s been some time now since Apple’s iOS-inspired OS X 10.10 Yosemite leapt onto the Mac. Attention has now turned to the next major release of OS X, which is expected to be named – you guessed it – OS X 10.11 El Capitan.
Like iOS 7, Yosemite’s bold colours and flattened icons divided opinion, but the stats paint a positive picture: more than half (58%) of Mac owners were running the latest version of OS X in April, according to data by NetApplications.
It’s hard to deny that Yosemite looks fantastic on Apple’s newer computers with Retina displays – such as the iMac with Retina 5K and the new MacBook – but users on older hardware have reported sluggish performance since upgrading.
As such , OS X 10.11 will focus on “under-the-hood” performance improvements, rather than new features, as OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard did back in 2009. Snow Leopard famously launched with “0 new features”, instead focusing on improving performance and service support.
This includes 1.4 times faster app launching than its predecessor, two times faster app switching and email opening, as well as four times faster PDF previews. While Apple has not quite gone with the stringent strategy of no new features, it has aimed to please developers with a better optimized OS complete with Metal pulled from iOS 8.
OS X 10.11 release date
OS X 10.11 El Capitan is out now. You can grab it by heading over to the Mac App store, clicking Updates, and then Download.
OS X 10.11 price
The last two versions of OS X, Yosemite and OS X 10.9 Mavericks, were both free and El Capitan also costs the princely sum of nothing. It would have been especially hard to see Apple going back to paid annual updates in light of Microsoft’s decision to offer Windows 10 as a free update to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users for one year.
OS X 10.11 name
Releases of OS X were named after big cats prior to OS X 10.9 Mavericks, with the last being OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Apple indicated that future versions would be named after California locations from that point onwards, starting with OS X 10.09 Mavericks.
So what’s next? Apple has trademarked a number of names that could be used for OS X 10.11, including: Redwood, Mammoth, California, Big Sur, Pacific, Diablo, Miramar, Rincon, El Cap, Redtail, Condor, Grizzly, Farallon, Tiburon, Monterey, Skyline, Shasta, Sierra, Mojave, Sequola, Ventura and Sonoma. Of course, there can only be one and the Cupertino company decided to go with El Capitan.
OS X 10.11 updates
Apple released the first update for OS X El Capitan on October 21, 2015 (conveniently on the same day Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 reviews went up). Officially bring up the OS X up to version 10.11.1 the update fixes several of El Capitan’s widespread issues.
Most notably the update fixed El Capitan’s issues with installing and update apps that cause Macs to suddenly restart or show a black screen. The patch also cleared up the issue that caused the Mail client messages and server information to disappear. VoiceOver, the screen reader built-in to OS X 10.11 also came broken at launch but this late November update has since resolved the issue.
Aside from the bug fixes, the 10.11.1 update also brought with it 150 new emojis including the controversial middle finger.
OS X 10.11: features
Windows 7 introduced the ability to “snap” windows to the sides of the desktop to easily position apps and other content on the display, something that has been missing from OS X for almost six years. Now El Capitan will finally introduced something Apple is calling Split View, which as the name suggests allows users to easily orient two windows side by side.
Sure, there are third-party apps that can do it, but they ‘re not free or run as smoothly as the native behaviour on Microsoft’s snap-happy OS. Windows 10 has introduced a way to snap four Windows of equal size to each corner of the screen, which would be a boon for anyone using Apple’s larger iMacs or a large monitor.
OS X El Capitan also brings a slightly revamped multi-desktop management system called Spaces Bar. Users can launch the new expansive view of their desktops by dragging a window to the top of the screen. For a split-screen view, simply drag one window on top of the other.
In a few other tweaks, Mission Control said to be smoother, simpler, faster. Meanwhile, full screen apps including Mail are smarter with multitasking features similar to iOS’s 8 enhancements.
One of the biggest improvements El Capitan will bring with it is Metal, a low-level, low-overhead hardware-accelerated graphics API. Apple promises this iOS 8 feature coming to its desktop OS will introduce a 50% improvement in performance with up to 40% greater rendering efficiency.
The melding of Metal with El Capitan should make Macs a much more capable platform for gaming. Thus far, Epic games has demoed a build of Fortnight built on Metal.
Aside from gaming, Adobe also presented Metal has enabled After Effects to render effects with eight times the efficiency. The software maker also announced it is adopting Metal in its OS X apps, which has resulted in a 10x improvement in draw call performance.