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Apple Details Snow Leopard's Substantial Package of Enhancements and Refinements

As Friday's public launch of Mac OS X Snow Leopard approaches, many users are considering whether to upgrade and wondering what new features they can expect in Apple's updated operating system. While many consider Snow Leopard to be focused on "under the hood" changes to improve and streamline performance, Apple's Enhancements and Refinements page also covers a wide variety of visual and functional changes, many of which had previously been reported by Apple or sources using developer builds of Snow Leopard, but we highlight here a few of those of interest.

- "Put Back" and Stacks Navigation: Apple has added the ability for users to quickly restore items from the Trash folder to their original locations and now allows users to easily navigate within stacks by adding a scrolling feature in grid view and adding an arrow icon to allow users to navigate the folder hierarchy. The folder hierarchy icon began as a "thumbnailed" picture of the parent folder, but was replaced with the simpler arrow icon in later developer builds.

- GPU-Accelerated Video Playback: QuickTime X, included as part of Snow Leopard, utilizes video-decoding capabilities built into the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor found in many Macs, reducing load on the system's CPU and freeing it up for other tasks.

- Text Editing Features and Integration: New features include automatic correction for common spelling errors and expanded data detectors to automatically find information such as dates and addresses and provide smart options for such tasks as creating iCal or Address Book entries or mapping locations.

- Full Multi-Touch Gesture Support for Compatible Models: All of Apple's notebooks introduced since 2008, beginning with the original MacBook Air, have included Multi-Touch trackpad capabilities, but many of the early models have been unable to take advantage of newer four-finger gestures, a limitation that will be removed in OS X Snow Leopard.

- iChat Enhancements: Snow Leopard brings 640 x 480 video chats to iChat Theater, four times the resolution of those in Leopard, as well as reduced upload bandwidth requirements for video chats.

- Security: Apple has devoted an entire page of its Snow Leopard site to highlighting security features of Mac OS X, from "sandboxing" programs to limit the damage malicious software can cause and anti-phishing features in Safari to password strength assessment and parental controls. A report today is also pointing to an apparent antivirus feature built into Snow Leopard, and while MacRumors first received reports of this feature after developer build 10A261 was released in February, no further details of the feature have been unearthed.

An extensive list of many other Snow Leopard features are detailed at Apple's site.