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Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference brings big changes to the world of iOS What's New In iOS 8? What's New In iOS 8? After last year's big iOS 7 redesign, you'd expect a muted iOS 8 announcement at this year's Worldwide Developer Conference – but you'd be wrong. Read More , but the company hasn’t forgotten about the desktop either. OS X is evolving both in terms of looks and features, and just like last year’s Mavericks update, Yosemite will be another free download OS X Mavericks is Free: Here's How To Get It & Why You Want It OS X Mavericks is Free: Here's How To Get It & Why You Want It Apple really outdid itself this time. The words "software sells hardware" never rung more true, and now that OS X Mavericks is free to all, isn't it about time you got on-board? Read More .

You’ll have to wait a few months for the new OS to land, or optionally register for the public beta in which the first million people to sign up are given access (so be quick). For the meantime, here’s a peek at what Cupertino have done to the desktop.

Introducing OS X 10.10 “Yosemite”

OS X is the desktop operating system that ships with all Mac computers, and version 10.10 has just been announced by Apple at its annual developer gathering. There’s currently no official word on compatibility, but you can expect most MacBooks from late 2008, iMacs from late 2007 and the Mac Mini from 2009 to be able to run it, provided the OS has the same demands as the previous version.

A Brand New Look

Last year Apple gave iOS a serious facelift and this year they’ve gone and done the same for OS X. The fundamental look of the operating system – a dock, a menubar, the current Finder layout – remains unchanged, but gone is the metallic look to be replaced by translucent windows and smaller, streamlined toolbars which place emphasis on content rather than windows and borders.

The “close, minimise and maximise” buttons have become “close, minimise and fullscreen” represented by solid splodges of colour and the dock background resembles its iOS counterpart, with a dynamic blurriness providing the backdrop for new brightly coloured simple app and system icons. Elsewhere folders and calendar appointments have had the colour saturation ramped up, and everything seems “lighter” in a sense.

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The “flat” design seen in iOS has trickled down to the desktop, and context menus allow the background to bleed through, just enough. Notification centre loses its skeuomorphic textured background, now appearing to float over the desktop rather than hiding beneath it. The system font used in iOS makes its way to Mac OS X, proudly displaying dates and weather information in a thin and elegant typeface.

Another new look comes in the form of “dark mode” which allows users to turn the usual light toolbars a darker grey. The best thing about the redesign is that you won’t need to learn how to use it, it works just as it always has done, except now it looks and feels more modern than ever before.

Spotlight & Notification Centre

Ever heard of the “do everything from your keyboard” app Alfred 10 More Alfred Workflows to Send Tweets, Set Reminders & More 10 More Alfred Workflows to Send Tweets, Set Reminders & More If you're a Mac power user, application launcher Alfred is a powerful way to get things done with click-saving workflows and a few swift keystrokes. Read More ? So has Apple, it seems. Spotlight now looks a lot like Alfred, and hooks into more services than ever before. The search function now appears in the middle of the screen as a floating box rather than being tied to the menubar as per tradition. You can search news feeds, iTunes and the Mac App Store, Wikipedia, Maps, Yelp, get movie times and perform quick currency or unit conversion using a quick Cmd+Spacebar search query.

Custom widgets also make their way into Notification Centre, with Apple providing Calendar, Weather, Stocks, World Clock, Calculator and Reminders out of the box. Users can also use the Mac App Store to download even more widgets, like ESPN SportsCentre which was previously only found on the OS X Dashboard.

It’s unclear at this stage if Notification Centre is to replace Dashboard entirely, but it’s now available at all times – even in full screen mode. Just like iOS, it too now displays a “Today” view which provides a run-down of reminders, appointments and other useful (and customisable) information.

iCloud Drive & AirDrop

One of the biggest announcements in iOS 8 is also big news for OS X – iCloud Drive now allows you to drag and drop documents directly into an iCloud folder that syncs with your iOS devices (and presumably other Mac computers). The folder supports syncing both ways, so you can work on a document on one device then return to it and make changes on another without losing your work.

The company has also reduced iCloud storage costs, with 20GB now costing $0.99 per month, and 200GB available for $3.99 per month. Apple’s own marketing speak says users will be able to “drag and drop any files into the folder” – which presumably means even music and videos will be accessible from iOS devices, though we’ll have to wait and see for sure.

Another feature that will make iOS users smile is the introduction of AirDrop between iOS and Mac devices. The feature was previously Mac-only Share Files Easily Between Computers With AirDrop & Two Similar Applications [Mac] Share Files Easily Between Computers With AirDrop & Two Similar Applications [Mac] How often have you sent an email to yourself, simply to move a picture or document between computers? Often, the only obvious alternative is clear overkill, like setting up a temporary FTP server on your... Read More , then only supported iOS devices but now Apple seems to have seen sense by opening it up to their entire fleet. Finally you can wirelessly transfer files between iPhones, iPads and Mac computers using not one but two Apple-engineered methods.

Continuity With iOS

Some of the most exciting developments in OS X will only be really useful to existing iOS users. Improved continuity between the two platforms, not only in looks but in interactions and features, tie the desktop and mobile platform closer than ever before. This really comes to a head with the Mac gaining the ability to make and answer iPhone calls (yes, standard non-FaceTime calls) and send bog-standard SMS and MMS using the Messages app too.

That means all of your messages – be it iMessages with other Apple users, or SMS messages to other smartphone users – will now also appear on your Mac. The technology uses Wi-Fi, so both devices need only share the same network (and Apple ID credentials Lock Down These Services Now With Two-Factor Authentication Lock Down These Services Now With Two-Factor Authentication Two-factor authentication is the smart way to protect your online accounts. Let's take a look at few of the services you can lock-down with better security. Read More , naturally) which means if you’re charging your phone in one room, you can take (or make) a call on your Mac in another. The technology is deeply integrated into existing OS X Contacts, Calendar and Messages apps, and the new Safari too, so you can just click a number and place a call.

Also new to Yosemite is a feature called “Handoff” which allows you to begin work on one device, and continue it on another. Examples include writing a report on OS X then deciding you need to continue on the road using your iPad, or beginning to write an email on your iPhone before picking it up later on your Mac. One final feature worth noting is Instant Hotspot, which displays a pre-configured iPhone as a connection option (complete with signal strength and data connection information) whenever in range from the Wi-Fi connection menubar entry.

Mail & Safari

Two of Apple’s most popular apps will get big updates in Yosemite, with Mail receiving a new feature called Mail Drop which allows users to store files of up to 5GB in their iCloud Drive (which will in all likelihood count against your available space) to be accessed by users running any email client. Also new to the email client is Markup, adding the ability to add signatures, annotations, drawings and even auto-converting straight lines and arrows to attachments before sending them off elsewhere.

Safari loses a few pounds, demonstrating a thinner toolbar than ever before. Favourite websites now appear the second you click on the address bar and Tab View offers a chance to see all tabs at once, including those on your other iCloud-connected devices. Just like iOS 8, Spotlight suggestions now appear in Safari too from news sources, websites like Wikipedia along with the standard search suggestions from whatever search engine you’re using.

Of course, these are just the visible differences and Apple has improved things under the hood, with faster JavaScript rendering, improved energy efficiency, the ability to use Private Browsing in one window only and the usual maintenance you’d expect to support for web standards including HTML5 Premium Video (which means native support for Netflix without plugins) and WebGL enhancements.

Developer Tools

Finally, Apple has given developers another reason to smile by unleashing a brand new programming language called Swift. The language is cross-compatible with Objective C, the language Apple developers currently use; and represents the future of coding for both iOS and OS X. Not only did WWDC 2014 bring with it a new language, but also a new version of Xcode in which to use it.

While developer tools are probably one of the least interesting developments from the perspective of end users, the new software, language and improved access to APIs (like CloudKit, which opens up the full power of iCloud by letting developers share information between apps) is just as exciting for the future of Mac OS X as many of the other news brought about by WWDC.

Coming “Fall 2014”

Just like iOS 8, OS X 10.10 “Yosemite” will need to go back into the oven for a few months before it’s ready for public consumption. When it lands, it will be free and compatible with most Mac computers purchased in the last five, six and maybe even seven years in some cases. Last year’s Mavericks update landed on the 22 October, so there’s your ballpark figure for a release date.

If you’re quick, you might just catch the tail end of the OS X public beta program. In case you missed it, don’t forget to check out our iOS 8 round-up What's New In iOS 8? What's New In iOS 8? After last year's big iOS 7 redesign, you'd expect a muted iOS 8 announcement at this year's Worldwide Developer Conference – but you'd be wrong. Read More too.

Leave a comment and let us know what you’re most looking forward to in the upcoming free update to OS X.

  1. Jeremy Crowley
    October 24, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    As long as all the inconsistencies in interface-behavior of Mavericks have also been fixed, along with the currently utterly broken dual display support, it might be worth a try.... assuming hidpi-mode will now actually work (even on low resolutions of 1600x900 the OSX ui becomes too tiny to be workable - at least on a wacom cintiq - not to mention the how it renders applications like Photoshop CS6 unusable at any reasonable resolution)....

    Still encountering messed up file-permissions caused by transfer through an earlier OSX version at times, so hopefully setting the system up properly and securely for use within a secure environment will be explained more clearly, and preferably before Spotlight or iTunes begins mangling existing filestructures and such...

    All the technology available at my fingertips in a macbook has worked together like a dream in the past - solid gold: speech recognition, gestures, automation - everything one needs to actually use computer to get work done, and to be easily customized (especially with a bit of scripting) - boom - useless since security patches required users to upgrade to the newer version of OSX. And so far every update has left all of the core problems to be resolved at later date....

    Why not fix the current OSX version at least A BIT before pushing on to the next one? I'd rather pay way too much for this OS if it worked , than get forced to upgrade it for 'free' and probably break even more of the potential it initially had.

  2. sad
    October 18, 2014 at 7:16 am

    comment constructively : maybe Apple should "program constructively" instead of mess around
    stay on the subject of the article, and : Of course
    respect the opinions of others : of course

    the biggest joke is the "improved energy efficiency"
    battery lifetime switched from acceptable 6 hours down to 4
    and the look is just horrible.
    no customization possible.
    safari is gone.
    i don't know if i like OS X anymore.
    if they next produce a laptop that bends on using, they are gone for me.

  3. Satya
    July 27, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Simply amazing info. I am gonna write something like this. Thnx a bunch for this great info.

  4. Andy
    June 19, 2014 at 2:01 am

    To the Addle-heads of Apple: why don't you fix Mavericks first, e.g., bring back full-width file colours instead of dopey little tabs. And restore the ability to keep several windows open simultaneously, to facilitate shifting files between them.

  5. Larry Bradley
    June 10, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Tim B,

    I get your point. I am simply continually amazed at how some people will pay $100 for a $10 steak just because of the restaurant in which it is served, or $80 for a $40 shirt just because of the label on the more expensive shirt. But I also realize that many people have other reasons for using non-open-source OS's, and I'm sure those reasons have more to do with function than form. Thanks for the link, interesting article.

  6. Marygwyn
    June 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I really liked this article. As a non-developer end user, this article made me look forward to the update with happy anticipation. I appreciate that Apple charges little (in the form of apps) or nothing for updates and does not allow weird, unexpected, generally unwanted "extras" that most regard as bloatware as part of their OS.

    I have a PC that I avoid whenever possible because of the crapware that pops up. I love my Apple products because they work beautifully together and separately; the hardware and software are both attractive; and they don't require constant intervention due to the sudden appearance of unsolicited offers, toolbars I did not authorize, or any of the other hundreds of things I remember that I can't stand every time I power up my poor Windows machine.

  7. Evilplankton
    June 6, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    My office is almost entirely Mac, I hope the iCloud Drive feature has some enterprise support. I suspect it would be far better integrated than Dropbox or Gdrive and one less app for Tech to install and maintain.

    The current Mail client is such a memory hog I never use it, but Markup will be a reason to try it again.

    This is an outstanding write up, my favorite so far about Yosemite. Nice job!

  8. Larry Bradley
    June 6, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Amazing how many of these features and concepts were / are made available first by / on various flavors of Linux for the desktop. To a large extent, the opensource community deserves the credit for many Apple and Microsoft OS "innovations." I challenge your other readers, especially linux developers. to provide instances where the opensource community first came up with the concepts of background bleed-through, transparent windows, smaller toolbars, dynamic blurriness, floating notification center, docks, continuity between platforms (Ubuntu?) etc. It is time to give credit where credit is due.

    • Tim B
      June 10, 2014 at 12:27 am

      But really: who cares?

      Much of the great art, writing and music of the last century wouldn't exist were it not for imitation and the remixing of other people's ideas. Software, UI design and features follow the same formula.

      Every time something new comes along there's a chorus of criticism surrounding how "unoriginal" or "stolen" the idea is. It's boring. It doesn't affect me as an end user. I'll assume you won't be using this (or any) version of OS X on the basis that if you were you might have something to say about the features (and how they will affect you, positively or negatively) rather than pointing out how unjust it is that Apple can take to the stage and impress a crowd with ideas previously seen elsewhere.

      This is an interesting (and related) webseries that further explores this idea: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/everything-is-a-remix-a-four-part-documentary-about-copying-other-people/

  9. Bud
    June 5, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    I hope they will allow users to remove it easily from their HD and revert back to an older OS, IF they don't like it, unlike Mavericks, which for me after many unsuccessful tries, I was NOT able to do ! Like the old slippers or shoes, an OS can be more familiar and comfortable to use !!!

    • Tim B
      June 6, 2014 at 1:00 am

      I'm pretty sure if you have a Mountain Lion install .ISO still hanging around, you could ditch Mavericks using the clean install method with enough fiddling. Shouldn't be hard to do.

      If you downloaded Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store, you might find the installer for download in your Mac App Store "Purchases" area. Some Macs will cease support at ML, so there's a good chance Apple will need to keep those installers available for people running older hardware.

      Then again, rolling back to older versions isn't really the Apple way – and it hasnt been for years now. iOS is famously one-way, mostly because of jailbreaking and security problems. I guess mobile is a slightly different to desktop, but if you can run it I don't see why you'd necessarily want the older version (particularly when the update is free).

  10. Sumi
    June 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I've been using Mac's for close to 30 years and I find the flat design in many of the Mobil apps hard on my eyes. I'm not sure the smaller/thinner toolbars will be an enhancement for me.

    Hopefully, Apple will consider us with 50+ year old eyes in future updates.

    • WhoaPony
      June 5, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      Ditto!

    • Tim B
      June 6, 2014 at 12:57 am

      They're usually pretty good with accessibility options – thinks like larger fonts, inverse colours, and so on. Being Apple, I'm sure they must have thought about that.

      The UI elements don't appear to be any smaller, it's just now some apps (Safari in particular) have less UI and more "content".

    • Sumi
      June 7, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      @Tim B I agree and use the accessibility options as much as I can.

      I find it funny that Apple has wallpapers that are soft and easy on the eyes, yet the Calendar with its flat look is hard on the eyes with the harsh white/yellow/red theme.

  11. squirreldancer
    June 5, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Wow! That dark mode looks so much like Ubuntu. Are you sure you didn't get your screen grabs mixed up?

    • Tim B
      June 6, 2014 at 12:55 am

      Dark Mode isn't pictured, rather Notification Centre is (and it looks like Notification Centre in iOS). Is that what you meant?

  12. gar
    June 5, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Interesting that Apple doesn't plan to update Mavericks beyond the ones they've done so far.
    Every other IOS has had multiple improvements issued. Kinda validates my opinion that Mavericks was about like Vista in Microsoft's line - an answer to all the wrong questions.

    • Matt S
      June 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Yosemite is the update to Mavericks. That's how Apple's OS X updates work. Each is an update of the last version, and they're released frequently, usually one every year.

    • Matt S
      June 5, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      I'm running Yosemite right now on an Air, and its pretty great. I'm considering switching to it as my primary machine and just leaving my old Windows PC for games only.

  13. MrX
    June 5, 2014 at 5:57 am

    I was really impressed by all the features apple showed during the conference. It seems to me that Apple is feeling the heat from android devices and has stepped up their game on all platforms. Truly impressive if you ask me. In the end we the consumers will benefit from this.

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