Apple has released the first public beta of its next operating system update, OS X 10.11 El Capitan - named for the rock formation in Yosemite National Park.
Available free of charge to all Apple customers with compatible systems under the relatively new Apple Seed beta-test programme, which launched with the public betas of OS X 10.10 Yosemite, El Capitan brings with it a new graphics technology, Metal, which is claimed to boost performance considerably.
Appearing in El Capitan for the first time, OS X Metal is a low-latency API similar in concept to AMD's Mantle and the Khronos Group's Vulkan. With up to a tenfold increase in draw call performance, Apple's internal testing claims that Metal will boost the performance of games considerably while also increasing system-level graphics rendering performance by 50 per cent and 40 per cent more efficient. Other performance increases in the underlying operating system include claims of a twofold boost in application switching and email display, fourfold in PDF opening, and up to 1.4 times faster application launches.
El Capitan also brings other advances: a new Notes application is designed to compete with Microsoft's OneNote, Mail now features Calendar integration and an enhanced full-screen view, the Spotlight search system has been tweaked to support natural-language queries and more data sources, Mission Control has been overhauled, and OS X finally gets a native Split View mode - something rival operating systems have had for some time - for easily viewing two applications at once without needing to manually resize their windows.
The OS X 10.11 El Capitan preview is available now, as a 6GB download from iTunes, for all beta programme
members. The update does come with some compatibility warnings, however, including the news that selected 32-bit applications - including popular writing tool Scrivener - are known to quit unexpectedly, with an update to resolve the issue promised in the near future.