WWDC: Apple gives OSX a new look, unveils Swift and Metal



Love it or hate it, Apple’s OS X has long since earned a name for rock-solid performance and speed. Now, as of Monday, it’s getting a cleaner, flatter look that the California crew has dubbed Yosemite. The new interface, set to roll out a few months down the line, sheds the aging Mac interface for something that seems to draw inspiration from both their own iOS7 and Windows 8. They’ve also added a bit more functionality, like a Mail app that lets you write on images and a Messages app that can pick up SMSs – and an actual file hierarchy for iCloud. Mac users can sign up for the public beta program.

In addition to the usual marketing and the iPhone reveals (which we’ll avoid talking about here), Apple also took the wraps off two brand-new tools for developers: Swift – a programming language – and Metal.

Metal is an API that lets game developers bypass OpenGL and, like with AMD’s Mantle, access the underlying hardware more directly. In demonstrations, Popcap’s Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare was reportedly shown running with 1.3 million polygons on the screen at the same time. Epic Games’ (Unreal Tournament, Gears of War) Tim Sweeney followed with a demo called the Zen Garden, showcasing a cherry blossom tree and koi pond. Metal apparently freed enough resources for them to give each fish in the pond “their own intelligence”. That’s a rather vague term, but there’s no doubt Metal will prove extremely handy to the larger game studios working with iOS.

Swift, on the other hand, is a fully-fledged programming language that replaces Apple’s Objective C. Swift mixed features from both C and Objective-C to features similar to those found in C++, such as operator overloading. There’s also a new feature called Playgrounds which shows you the results of your code as you type (and if we’re not mistaken, there’s a timeline view involved). You can get Swift with the Xcode 6 beta. Developers, over to you.



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