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OS X Yosemite

Bringing a fresh look to OS X this fall

At A Glance

OS X Yosemite is the next version of the Mac operating system, including a revamped look and a number of new features. The upcoming operating system was previewed at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on June 2 and will launch to the public as a free upgrade this fall.

Features

  • Complete redesign with "flatter look"
  • Expanded Notification Center with widgets
  • iCloud Drive file storage
  • Streamlined design for Safari
  • Mail and Messages enhancements
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What's Coming

OS X Yosemite was unveiled at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on June 2, 2014. A beta version of the next-generation software was made available to developers that same day, with a public launch coming in the form of a free upgrade in the fall of 2014. Since June, Apple has released several new beta iterations of Yosemite, and the current version, Developer Preview 4, was seeded to developers on July 21.

On July 24, Apple released a public beta of OS X Yosemite, available to the first one million people who signed up.

Apple is highlighting a number of changes for OS X Yosemite in the company's feature page on the release, starting with a flatter, more modern look for OS X. Emphasizing translucency, streamlined toolbars, and smarter controls, the base OS X system also includes a number of feature improvements such as a "Today" view in Notification Center, that offers a wider variety of information including integration with third-party apps. Spotlight search has also been improved with new data sources, behaving more like a search engine by pulling in data from Wikipedia, Maps, movies, news, and more.

Apple also highlighted improvements to a number of core OS X apps in Yosemite, including Safari, which features a streamlined toolbar, a new "Favorites" view for bookmarks, and frequently visited sites. A new Tab View also makes it easier to manage multiple open tabs across various sites, while the more robust Spotlight functionality brings more power to the Safari search bar.

Mail has also seen a number of improvements, including a new Mail Drop feature that allows users to seamlessly send and receive attachments up to 5 GB in size via iCloud, bypassing the typical much smaller attachment size limits of many email providers. A new Markup feature also allows users to easily make Skitch-style annotations to images and other documents right from within Mail.

Messages on Mac has gained the ability to handle SMS messages, allowing users to keep all of their conversations synced across iOS and Mac devices. Messages can now also be used to send audio and video clips.

A major theme of OS X Yosemite is "Continuity", ensuring that users can move seamlessly between devices. With Yosemite and iOS 8, users will be able to use a new Handoff feature to switch devices and pick up right where they left off. Users will be able to make and receive phone calls right from their Macs with iPhone integration, while Mac users out of range of Wi-Fi networks will be able to initiate Instant Hotspots on their iPhones with a single click on the Mac.

Redesign Details and New Features

OS X Yosemite has been updated with a redesigned interface that refines the look of Mavericks with design cues taken from iOS 7. Much like iOS 7, Yosemite features a "flatter" style that does away with gloss heavily emphasizes translucency.

Menu bars, side bars, and other window elements have taken on translucent designs, allowing more of a user's chosen background to shine through. The dock is now 2D, and many of the buttons, icons, and apps throughout the operating system have been updated with a simpler, "more harmonious" design.

osxdesign

Translucent toolbars let you know there's more to see than what's visible in the window as you scroll. And a translucent sidebar lets you see what's hidden behind the active window. So the interface takes on the look of your desktop image and your content -- making your Mac experience different from anyone else's.

Apple has updated the fonts in OS X Yosemite, refining them to make them more legible and consistent "across the Mac experience." There's a new typeface in app windows, menu bars, and throughout the system, which Apple promises looks "incredible" on the Retina display.

Toolbars, such as those in Safari, have been slimmed down. For example, Safari no longer displays favorites in the menu bar, as Yosemite makes them accessible when clicking in a "smart search" box instead. Streamlining, simplifying and minimizing interface elements seems to be Apple's goal with Yosemite.

Notification Center

Yosemite's Notification Center has gained a refined design along with a new "Today" feature that mirrors the functionality of the Notification Center in iOS. Today is designed to present a summary of the day's upcoming events, reminders, and birthdays.

yosemite_notification_center

Notification Center incorporates stock Apple widgets like Calendar, Weather, Stocks, World Clock, Calculator, and Reminders, but it can also be customized with third-party widgets from the Mac App Store. During a demo, a Sports Center widget was dragged into the Notification Center, displaying sports scores directly in the Today view.

As it is fully customizable, Notification Center can be adjusted for each person's specific needs.

Spotlight

Not only has Spotlight received the same translucency treatment as many of Yosemite's apps, it has also been updated to incorporate additional sources of information. Spotlight searches will now provide information from Wikipedia, Bing, news, Maps, movies, and more.

Type in a term like "national park," for example, and Spotlight will provide a snippet of a Wikipedia article as a result. Look up a movie, and it will provide both showtimes and reviews from Rotten Tomatoes. The new Spotlight even has currency and unit conversion tools, allowing users to make instant conversions like dollars to euros, feet to meters, and more.

spotlight

Safari

Many of the default apps that come pre-installed with Yosemite have received new abilities and new looks. Safari, for example, has a slimmed down toolbar that's accompanied by a "smart search" feature that provides access to favorite sites, much like Safari in iOS 7. Search also provides Spotlight suggestions from sources like Wikipedia, Bing, Maps, news, and iTunes, along with standard search results.

A revamped Tab View displays all open tabs in a tiled arrangement, with tabs from the same sites arranged together. According to Apple, Safari in Yosemite includes an improved Nitro JavaScript engine, making it faster than ever. It's also more energy efficient, providing functions like two extra hours of battery life when watching Netflix.

safari

With Yosemite, it is possible to open a single tab or window in Private Browsing mode, a feature that previously required all tabs to switch to private, and DuckDuckGo, which does not track users, is now a search option.

Mail

Mail in Yosemite has gained some impressive new features along with its redesign. Now featuring a cleaner design, Mail now supports Markup, a feature that allows users to annotate attachments right in the app. For example, a user might sign a document or write a funny caption on a picture before sending it out.

yosemite_mail_markup

Large mail attachments are now managed by Mail Drop, a feature that allows users to send attachments that are up to 5GB in size by leveraging iCloud. Attachments are automatically uploaded to iCloud, with recipients receiving the files as a standard attachment in Mail or as a file to download in other clients.

Continuity

Improving the integration between iOS and Mac devices was one of Apple's major goals with iOS 8 and Yosemite. Better communication between devices was largely achieved with "Continuity," a set of features available for both Yosemite and iOS 8.

Handoff and AirDrop

One of the major new features of Continuity is Handoff. As described by Apple, Handoff can be used for several different activities, including email and web browsing. Users can begin writing an email on an iPhone, for example, and then switch to a Mac to finish.

Websites work similarly, allowing users to browse the web on one device, and then continue looking at the same website on another device. While this is already possible via iCloud Tabs, Handoff makes the entire process easier and extends the functionality to other apps.

handoffiosyosemite

As demoed during the keynote, iOS devices and Macs are "aware" of each other, and can pick up a task when nearby. When composing an email on a Mac, for example, users will see an icon on the screen of their iPad or iPhone that can be tapped to allow them to continue writing on the iOS device. Similarly, an iPhone near a Mac will cause the activity to automatically pop up on the Mac's dock, allowing for a seamless transition between devices.

Handoff works with functions like email and web browsing, but it also works in apps. Apple has built Handoff functionality into its apps like Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and more, which will allow a document started in an iOS version of that app to be seamlessly picked up within the Mac app, and vice versa. Apple has also opened up this functionality to third-party developers, allowing them to build Handoff into their apps. While apps using Handoff will open their Mac and iOS counterparts on relevant devices, when there is no Mac app available for an iOS app, developers will be able to redirect users to a website or a web-based version of an app and vice versa. Having two apps for the feature is not a necessity, as it also supports browser-to-app or app-to browser functionality.

It appears that Handoff will be limited to Macs that include Bluetooth LE(4.0), which means that many Macs produced before 2011 will not have access to the feature. At this point in time, it does not appear that a Bluetooth LE adapter enables the feature.

AirDrop, Apple's peer-to-peer file sharing service, also now works between Macs and iOS devices. Previously, AirDrop on an iOS device only worked with other iOS devices, while AirDrop on a Mac only worked with AirDrop on other Macs.

Phone Calls and SMS Messages on Macs

The enhanced Continuity between OS X and iOS also allows Mac devices in close proximity to an iPhone to both place and receive calls, leveraging Bluetooth and WiFi with the iPhone serving as a relay. Users can answer a call made to their iPhone on their Mac, a useful feature when an iPhone is across the room charging or otherwise inaccessible.

phone

Similarly, iPads and Macs are now able to receive SMS messages from non-Apple devices, a function previously limited to the iPhone. iPads and Macs are also able to utilize an "Instant Hotspot" feature that allows them to connect to an iPhone hotspot with just a click, and AirDrop is also cross-platform.

iCloud Drive

iCloud Drive is a new facet of iCloud that puts an iCloud folder directly in the Finder. All files that have been uploaded to iCloud from various iOS and Mac apps can be found in iCloud Drive, but more importantly, it also allows users to store their own files, much like Dropbox.

The iCloud Drive folder within Finder on Yosemite works like any other folder, allowing users to drag and drop files to it. Additional folders within iCloud Drive can also be created, letting users organize all of their cloud files.

iclouddrive

iPhones and iPads also have access to iCloud Drive, and thus access to all of a user's personal cloud files. Content can also be managed on Apple's iCloud.com website and Apple is planning an app for Windows as well.

iCloud Photo Library on iOS 8 will take advantage of iCloud Drive, storing all of a user's photos in the cloud. Apple is working on a similar solution for Macs called Photos, which it plans to debut next year. While little information was available on Photos for Mac, it may also integrate with iCloud.

Apple introduced new iCloud pricing during its iCloud Drive announcement. The company now offers 5GB of iCloud storage for free, with 20GB available for $0.99/month and 200GB available for $3.99/month, which puts its prices on par with competing services like Dropbox. Apple offer storage up to 1TB, but pricing has yet to be announced.

Release Date

OS X Yosemite was made available to registered developers on June 2, and a version of the beta was made available to the public on July 24.

According to rumors, OS X Yosemite will be released to the public in late October, following an extended beta testing period.

OS X Yosemite Timeline

Roundup Last Updated
July2014
June2014