Macintosh OS X El Capitan is to concentrate on speed, reliability and battery life with intelligent search.

Apple’s latest version of OS X won’t look much different than the last, OS X Yosemite.

But it will have plenty of features that Mac users should enjoy. At its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple announced OS X El Capitan, named for the landmark vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park.

Craig Federighi, who oversees operating systems at Apple, said El Capitan will offer noticeable speed improvements. Apps will launch an average of 1.4 times quicker, app switching will be twice as fast, and opening a PDF in OS X’s Preview app will happen four times as quick, Federighi said.

Apple’s search tool, Spotlight, will use natural language to find documents, weather, sports scores and other information on a Mac and online. During the WWDC keynote, Federighi typed “emails I’ve ignored from Phil” into Keynote, and it pulled up emails he hasn’t read from Phil Schiller, the head of marketing at Apple.

There are also features like the ability to mute audio from websites with a click in Safari’s URL bar, for those moments when annoying songs or videos start playing the background. A new “split view apps” mode automatically displays two apps side-by-side to take up the entire screen, somewhat like the snapped apps mode in Windows 8.

El Capitan is available to developers today, through a public beta in July, and to the public for free this summer.

Apple brought its Metal graphics system from its iOS to the Mac, which Epic Games, developers of the Unity graphics engine used by many of today’s top games, said was significantly faster and less processor intensive for rendering intensive graphics.

Spotlight, Apple’s search engine, also so an upgrade with semantic searches.

“Users can search for “documents I worked on last June” and it will find all the documents created in June last year on your Mac,” said Federighi.

Apple has improved window management in El Capitan, including the ability to size windows to half the screen, something Microsoft’s Windows has had baked in for years but requires a third-party app such as Moom or manual rearrangement on Yosemite.

Federighi said the company had made many hundreds of small changes to the rest of Apple’s core apps, including Safari which can now pin tabs within the tab bar in the corner and can load instantly.

El Capitan is the name of a mountain in Yosemite National Park in California, Yosemite having been the name of last year’s update. The iPhone maker has adopted the tradition of naming its software after landmarks in California in recent years.

Apple chief Tim Cook has taken to the stage in San Francisco to begin the keynote speech, calling the event “the epicentre of change for the industry”.

Dispensing with the usual figures and sales updates, Mr Cook said simply that “everything is going great”.

The firm’s Craig Federighi added that OS X Yosmite had the fastest adoption rate of any desktop software ever; showing a graphic on-screen that had the rate for Apple’s software at 55%, compared to 7% for perennial rivals Microsoft and its Windows 8.1 software.

Mr Federighi confirmed that a public beta of El Capitan would become available in July, before becoming available as a free upgrade in the autumn.

Mr Federighi also unveiled the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system: iOS 9.

The update focuses on Siri, and the Apple voice assistant becoming more “proactive”. Demoed on-stage, the new software was shown to be able to understand context, with music playing when you plug in headphones and start running, and suggest apps based on the users’ habits.

The update is similar to Google’s Now software, and appears to show Apple making an effort to improve its digital assistant, which has struggled to keep up with Now, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

iOS 9 will also automatically add invitations to a user’s calendar that are sent in email, as well as suggest a possible contact name when an unfamiliar number phones you – based on your emails once again.

The software’s search feature has also been improved, now enabling users to see and jump straight into apps from search results. Siri can also now be used to voice search for photos on you device. Apple are calling the whole update “Intelligence”.

Mr Federighi also made a point on privacy by saying that Apple is “not interested” in user data and that Apple doesn’t mine user data. “It stays on your device, under your control,” he said. Last week, Tim Cook accused Google of invading user privacy by using their photos via a new app to mine data on users.

The Cupertino-based firm also announced an update to its mobile payment system – Apple Pay, including confirmation that the system will come to the UK next month.

 

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