What to expect from Apple's newest OS

A Quick View of OS X El Capitan

Apple is poised to release OS X El Capitan (10.11) on September 30th, 2015, the latest in a series of operating systems based on the Darwin Core, an open source Unix operating system first released by Apple in 2000.

El Capitan is not considered to be a major upgrade from the previous version “Yosemite” (10.10) but does propose a few new features, some security improvements, and considerable performance enhancements.

New Features:

Some of the new features added to El Capitan will make it the most useful and intuitive Apple OS yet. A personal favorite of mine, and helpful for all multitaskers, is the new split view to run applications side by side without having to manually resize windows and enhanced Mission Control which will no longer hide windows behind one another for easier navigation between desktops. Spotlight will now understand natural language for those who do not speak computer and there will be more app integration such as suggested events and contacts within emails.

Public transit is now going to be integrated in to Maps. One can plan a route in Transit View and Maps will plan the best route with detailed walking, subway, train, bus, and ferry directions including linking from one form of transit to another. Finally, after some backlash for losing the ability to edit photos during the transition from iPhoto to the new Photos app, Apple is bringing photo editing back through third party applications in Photos.


Apple is promising across the board performance enhancements but the biggest item to note is the release of Metal. Metal is a new set of tools for Apple’s third-party developers to use for 3D rendering that bypasses the OpenGL framework that has been hampering performance in previous versions. Since Apple has such strict control over the hardware in its systems, it can allow for software to have a more direct connection to it hardware resources. One thing to note is that not all El Capitan compatible systems will be able to utilize Metal. It is rumored that only some of the newest GPUs will be able to take advantage of it.


There will be improved security including a patch for a known serious bug in AirDrop. With System Integrity Protection (known as rootless) El Capitan locks down some of its core system files denying any modification by applications or administrative override.


Since not all Macs are made the same, here is a list of Macs that will be supported:

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum Late 2008), (13-inch Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch Mid-2009 or newer, 15-inch Mid / Late 2007 or newer, 17-inch Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Of these Macs, only the following will be able to take advantage of the new Metal graphics performance:

  • iMac (21.5-inch Late 2012 or newer, 27-inch 2012 or newer, 27-inch with 5K Retina display or newer)
  • Mac Mini (Late-2012 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2012 and Late 2013 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (11 inch Mid-2012 or newer, 13-inch Mid 2012 or newer
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch Mid-2012 or newer, 13-inch with Retina Display Late 2012 or newer, 15-inch Mid 2012 or newer, 15-inch with Retina Display Mid 2012 or newer)
  • MacBook (12-inch Early-2015 or newer)


As we would expect with a new operating system, El Capitan promises many new features and looks like it will be more intuitive than ever, but it is not always best to jump on the upgrade bandwagon right of the bat. The latest and greatest are often the buggiest. El Capitan has morphed through at least seven beta versions to get to this point and the whole purpose is to debug the code. With any code release there are inevitably unexpected bugs to work out once it is presented live to the general public. Best practice is to wait a few months (at least 3) before upgrading to allow these quirks to be worked out.

If you have any questions or concerns about OS X (we support all modern and legacy versions back to OS 9.2) or any other computer issue please contact Winchester Computers and we will be happy to assist you.

By Robert Hester