At today’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote in San Francisco, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi took to the stage to preview the latest version of the company’s Mac operating system. OS X Yosemite, which is named after the famous National Park in California, introduces a number of new features and a revamped user interface.
Look & Feel
As expected, the cleaner and flatter aesthetic that Jony Ive and the rest of the Apple design team introduced with iOS 7 last year, is very much present in OS X Yosemite. Finder windows include translucent elements which provide a glimpse of what’s underneath them, toolbars have been streamlined to put more of the focus on your content, and app icons have a more consistent design. The look of the Dock has also been refreshed too – instead of a 3D-effect shelf, it now has a simple flat panel.
One particularly nice, and completely unexpected enhancement to the user interface comes in the form of a new Dark Mode option, which will be perfect for anybody who finds all the white space in OS X too distracting.
Features & Enhancements
In addition to revamping the user interface in OS X Yosemite, Apple has also introduced a number of new features and capabilities. Here’s an overview of some of the more notable ones.
Notification Center has been given a complete overhaul, which should make it a lot more useful. It includes a new Today view which, as the name suggests, gives you an overview of your day ahead along with widgets for Weather, World Clock, Stocks, Reminders. You can also customise it by downloading and adding additional Widgets from the Mac App Store.
Spotlight has also been revamped, and now features far more prominently. A large search bar appears right in the middle of your screen, and results appear directly below. Those results include suggestions from Wikipedia, Maps, Bing, and Apple’s App, iTunes, and iBook Stores. Spotlight can also be used for tasks such as working out conversions, finding food recommendations, and checking showtimes for movies.
As you might expect, Yosemite brings with it a new version of Safari. Apple has given its browser a more streamlined design which is consistent with the other user interface changes, plus some new functionality. Rather than showing your favourite websites by default, they now pop up when you click on the address bar, and you can view all of your open tabs as thumbnails in a single window.
Mail too has been given a refresh to match the design of Yosemite, and some additional capabilities. A new feature that Apple calls Mail Drop allows you to send large images and videos up to 5GB in size to any email address. It works by separating the file from the email, moving it to iCloud and providing the email recipient with a download link. Another feature, Markup, allows you to quickly complete and sign forms, or add annotations to images or PDFs inside the app.
Yosemite also introduces a Dropbox-like service called iCloud Drive. It provides an iCloud storage folder inside Finder, which can be used to store and sync any kind of file between Mac, Windows and iOS devices. Along with the new feature, Apple has announced a new pricing structure for its iCloud storage. The first 5GB is free, 20GB costs $0.99 per month, and for $3.99 per month you can have 200GB.
New continuity features in Yosemite promise to make your Mac and iOS devices work seamlessly together. Finally, AirDrop can be used to send files from your Mac to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch – and vice versa. One particularly noteworthy new capability is Handoff, which allows you to start a particular task on one device and complete it on another. So, for example – you could start composing an email on your iPhone and continue it on your Mac. In addition, Yosemite also allows you to make, receive and decline iPhone calls directly from your Mac.
Price & Release
Like its predecessor OS X Mavericks, OS X Yosemite will be available as a free upgrade from the Mac App Store. Registered Apple developers can download a preview release today, and for the first time Apple is also opening up access to it for non-developers via a beta program launching this Summer. The rest of us will have to wait until fall for the final public version.
As somebody who has used pretty much every version of the Mac operating system since OS 8, I’m personally looking forward to giving the new version of OS X a try. Admittedly, many of the changes are evolutionary than revolutionary, but I’m a fan of the cleaner and flatter design, and I’m particularly interested to see how well the new versions of Spotlight and Notification Center work.
What about you? We’d love to hear what you think of OS X Yosemite, or any of the announcements made by Apple at today’s keynote. You can leave a comment below, via your favorite social network, or over on our forums.