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Apple Announces OS X El Capitan, With Focus on Performance, Experience

OS X El Capitan will be available this fall.

Vjeran Pavic for

Apple today introduced the next version of its Mac operating system, OS X El Capitan, focusing on two key areas of improvement: Experience and performance.

Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi took the stage at the 26th annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, and highlighted some of the new features of El Capitan.

The Spotlight search function has been enhanced so you can perform searches using natural language queries. To demo the change, Federighi entered “Mail I ignored from Phil” into Spotlight, which returned a list of unread email from Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller.

In Safari, you can now pin your favorite sites to your browser, and a new audio icon in the address bar will allow you to quickly identify which tab is playing audio, so you can mute it.

OS X El Capitan also has a new Split View, which will let you work in two apps side by side — a feature that has been available on Windows for some time now.

Other improvements include new gesture controls, such as swiping on the trackpad to delete messages in the Mail app and shaking your cursor to enlarge it.

On the performance front, Federighi said that El Capitan is up to 1.4 times faster at launching apps compared to Yosemite, up to two times faster for app switching and displaying Mail messages and up to four times faster opening PDFs in Preview. He added that some users may see up to 40 percent better battery life.

The company is also bringing its Metal graphics technology, which was first introduced on iOS 8, to Macs. Apple said Metal offers 10 times improvement in game performance, and brought on Epic Games to demo its Fortnite game running on El Capitan. Aside from gaming, Metal can also help speed up graphics-intensive apps. Adobe, for example, said it will use the technology for its OS X apps.

Mac OS X El Capitan is available to developers today and will be released to the public in the fall as a free download.

Federighi said that over 55 percent of active Mac users are running the current version of OS X, Yosemite, which Apple claims is the the fastest adoption rate of any PC operating system ever.

For more on Apple’s announcements, check out our WWDC live blog here.

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