It seems funny to type that — 10.10 — but Apple’s newest OS incarnation is just that: the 11th version of the OS X operating system (pardon the redundancy). In his keynote, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, talked about the “future of OS X: “Yosemite.”
My first thought: How can the successor to Mavericks top itself? I’ve loved the cleaner, more iOS-like interface of Mavericks, and especially loved the changes to Finder and couldn’t make the switch fast enough, especially since it was free-of-charge to Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion users. However, along with the beneficial features and the fact that it kicked off a new OS naming scheme dedicated to notable California locales, it also had a few hiccups (most notably with Mail) that could stand to be improved upon.
From the looks of Yosemite, it delivers and then some.
So, what will users see in the latest Mac OS? For starters, Yosemite also includes a user interface redesign, further adding iOS 7 (and iOS 8!)-like visuals to your desktop. Yosemite boasts a more seamless integration between all of your devices as well as major new features focusing on seamless integration between Mac and iOS devices, a storage system called iCloud Drive, which is essentially iDisk coming back but with enhanced cloud features, and phone and text features added to your desktop.
New Interface and Notification Center
As I mentioned, the look of Yosemite clearly borrows from the flat, bright design of iOS 7, complete with transparent windows, updated app icons, newly-integrated weather features and widgets and a redesigned Notification Center. (I think this officially phases out Dashboard, but there was no mention of that…it may just go quietly.) Users can also adjust the brightness/translucency of the background to give a more customized look.
Continuity is arguably the biggest new feature of OS X Yosemite, utilizing AirDrop to improve the connection between Macs and iOS devices. What this means is that you’ll be able to share files from your Mac to your iPad or iPhone…this was met with a big applause. (Previously, this feature only allowed files to be shared between Macs or between iOS devices.)
With Continuity comes Handoff, a new feature that allows iOS devices and Macs to “sense” one another, which will in turn, let the user pick up on one device where the other left off. Visual prompts on your devices make this process easy. Handoff could be extremely useful for emails, browser windows, and more — I mean, how nice would it be for your devices to truly be in sync? Big Brother-ish? Maybe, but for practicality purposes, I think most people would welcome this technology.
In Yosemite, calls and texts (SMS and MMS) are now available from your Mac. Not only can you see in real time who’s calling or texting you (even if your phone is across the house), you can actually answer them from your Mac. Texting has been available in Messages on Mavericks, but the notification process is vastly updated. Answering phone calls is all new, and could be really useful for many users.
Spotlight also got a redesign in Yosemite. With the search bar now in the center of your screen, some speculate that Apple is taking a swipe at Google with the relocation of the Spotlight prompt. You can search your computer files as always, but also the web, and pages like Wikipedia and Yelp pop up to help retrieve the best results. Spotlight has added unit conversions as well, which is something many of us (and I’m sure, many of you out there) utilize Google search for.
iCloud is getting a significant boost for usability with the addition of Drive. Similar to Google Drive, Dropbox, and SugarSync, iCloud Drive adds some awesome new capabilities. One major thing I noticed (that’s worth upgrading in and of itself) is the change in how it will handle email attachments. Now, if you want to share a file that’s reasonably large (say, 15MB or more, depending on both your the recipient’s email client limitations), it’s likely to bounce the entire message. With Yosemite and iCloud Drive, it will automatically take a file that’s too large to send and give the recipient a link to download it instead — but the email still goes through. I can’t tell you how great this will be for our workflow.
Of course, syncing is enhanced in iCloud Drive as well. Users will be able to see their files in the cloud from both Mac and iOS devices. (I assume that there’s a PC option in there somewhere, too, since it should be web-accessible via icloud.com, but I haven’t confirmed this.) iCloud Drive’s debut also changes pricing tiers. The first 5GB of iCloud storage is free, 20GB costs $0.99/month, and 200GB costs $3.99/month.
First noticeable thing: There’s a new tab view, designed to replace the existing Bookmarks bar. Users can scroll through tabs left to right, which is a nice feature if you’re someone who works with a million (OK, maybe a slight exaggeration) tabs open at a time. There’s also a place directly under the Search bar for Smart suggestions; this is designed to help users find what they need faster, whether it’s already a bookmark or not. I imagine that this might take some getting used to…I’m anticipating some clunkiness at first, but it could prove to be a worthy update.
As I mentioned above, one of the main complaints about Mavericks was Mail usability and compatibility (especially with certain Google accounts and settings). Hopefully, Apple has worked out the kinks there (and if not, I guess there’s still time before it’s available to everyone, so I’m sure developers will give crucial feedback). The main improvements to the Mail app in Yosemite that Craig mentioned include Markup and Mail Drop. Markup allows users to “mark up” (read: doodle) right in the app, which could be really handy for basic adjustments to images or files with our the need for Photoshop or even Preview to be open beforehand.
Mail Drop is what I described earlier regarding iCloud Drive and sending email attachments. iCloud now encrypts the attachments and sends the recipient a link to the attachment if it’s too large; files cannot exceed 5 GB, but that’s dramatically larger than virtually all email client limitations and more than most people would ever need to send anyway.
I’m really excited to get this on my (personal) iMac, since we’ll be restricted from using Yosemite until IT clears it — likely beyond the official Fall release date. I plan to renew my Developer account, so we’ll see. In the meantime, Don has installed it on his personal machine already, so I’ll be pestering him for details.
Both Yosemite and iOS will be available for free to the public this Fall.