OS X Yosemite: The Future of the Mac OS

In June, at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple previewed highly anticipated updates to Mac OS X and iOS. Both of these new OS’s will be available in the fall. With these releases, Apple has designed its desktop and mobile operating systems to be more integrated than ever before.

Yosemite (a.k.a. Mac OS X Yosemite; a.k.a. Mac OS X 10.10)

OS X Yosemite

Image: Apple.com

 The Name Game

Before I talk about what’s new in the Mac OS, I’d like to take a minute to talk about its name.

Way back in the beginning of the new millennium, when Mac OS X was still shiny and new, Apple gave each new release a number. So, the first release was OS X 10.0. The second was 10.1. The next was 10.2, and so on. However, internally, Apple gave each version an internal code name.

OS X Tiger

Image: Zdnet.com

It All Started With Big Cats

Mac OS X 10.0 was “Cheetah”. 10.1 was “Puma”, and so on. Officially, the number was what was used in marketing and documentation. Around version 10.4 (“Tiger”), Apple started using these code names publicly. So, you might hear someone refer to version 10.5 as “Leopard”, or 10.6 as “Snow Leopard”.

Then, two interesting things happened.

First, Apple decided to de-emphasize the number version (e.g. 10.x) and emphasize the particular cat name (e.g. “Panther”). Okay, that’s different and cool. But, that leads to a problem, and the second interesting thing that happened…

Apple ran out of big cat names!

Yes, there are only so many big cats available to name an OS after. Mac OS X 10.8 (a.k.a. “Mountain Lion”) was the last. Since Apple was more focused on a cool sounding name than a boring number, they needed a new naming scheme.

Hence are voyage to Yosemite.

Starting with Mac OS X 10.9, Apple began naming their OS after locations in California. That version was known as “Mavericks”, named after a popular surf location on the coast.

Mac OS X 10.10 was given the name “Yosemite” after the national park.

There you have it. A bit of Apple history that only the most hardcore Mac users know (or care about).

Yosemite Here We Come

So, what’s in store for Yosemite? As it turns out, a lot.

OS X Yosemite is the biggest revision of Apple’s computer operating system in years. Not only does it have a significantly revamped user interface, it also includes a slew of  new features.

New UI

OS X Yosemite UI

Image: Apple.com

The new user interface borrows heavily from flat design introduced in iOS 7. It’s not a complete duplicate of the iOS look and feel, but it is heavily influenced by it.

If you were a fan of the new look of iOS 7, then you’ll love the look of Yosemite.

Personally, I was not a fan of iOS 7. I thought the colors were too bright and the icons were ugly. I don’t mind simplifying, but I think they went overboard. They simplified it way too much. I was quite happy with the old look.

I liked the improvements that iOS 7 brought, but not the interface. I’ve grudgingly adapted to it, but I miss the old look and feel.

Yosemite makes several major changes to the Mac OS interface.

  • It incorporates translucency throughout the OS.
  • There’s a new system font—Helvetica Neue (bye, bye Lucida Grande).
  • Interface elements are toned down and less visible.
  • And, there are new icons galore.

Usually, I’m pretty happy with what comes out of Cupertino. But, not this time. Honestly, I’m not a happy camper. I don’t care for the new look at all. It’s too flat, plain, and boring. I’m quite happy with how the Mac OS looks now, thank you very much.

Worst of all….they changed my beloved Picasso-esque Finder icon!

Image: Apple.com

The new version looks positively cartoonish.

Opinions will vary. Not surprisingly, the new UI has caused quite a stir among the Mac faithful. There are strong opinion on both sides. Some really love it. Others, like me, hate it.

I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but I may actually skip this update and see if the look improves.

You can find an excellent review of the new UI here.

Features

As the old saying goes, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” In the case of Yosemite, that’s literally true. While I’m not a fan of how it looks, I do like all of the new features that it offers. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Continuity

This is actually a combination of features designed to make switching from a Mac to an iPhone or iPad, or vice versa, as seamless as possible.

AirDrop: AirDrop is an easy way to get files from one device to another. You could drag and drop a file over the AirDrop icon on one Mac, and have it appear instantly on another. The same held true for sharing files between iOS devices. But, strangely, you could move files between Macs and iOS devices using AirDrop. With Yosemite, you’ll finally be able to.

Handoff: This cool features lets you start working on something on your Mac and finish it on your iOS device, and vice versa. So, you could start an email message on your Mac, and finish the same message on your iPhone—all in real-time. Very cool.

Mac/iPhone Integration: With Yosemite and iOS 8, you’re Mac and iPhone will work closer together than ever before. You’ll be able to start answer a call on your iPhone from you Mac, or receive a call on your Mac from your iPhone.

Instant Hotspot: Easily create an instant, secure Wi-Fi hotspot for your MacBook using your iPhone.

iCloud Drive

Once upon a time Apple offered free cloud storage called iDisk. You could store any files you wanted there. Sadly, with the move to MobileMe, then iCloud, Apple discontinued iDisk. People needing free cloud storage flocked to the excellent DropBox. With the transition to iCloud, Apple did allow users to sync documents created with Apple apps like Pages or Keynote to the cloud. But, there was no general purpose folder for uploading any documents. That changes with iCloud Drive in Yosemite.

Users will enjoy the same free 5 GB of storage that they had with iCloud, but now it will work just like DropBox. You upload your files to iCloud Drive, and they sync across all of your devices.

Spotlight

Spotlight has always been an excellent search tool for finding things on your Mac. In Yosemite, it gets a complete makeover and a lot more features. Invoking a Spotlight search presents the user with a large search box in the center of the screen.

Image: AppleInsider.com

Here you can search for files on your Mac, App store apps, media from iTunes and Books Stores, news, and many other popular sites. It will offer suggestions from Bing, Wikipedia, and Maps. As you type, you’ll see search results—with previews—in real time.

Mail Drop

Have you ever had the need to email a really large file? If so, you know what a hassle that can be. Most of the time, you can’t email anything over 10 MB. You have to upload it somewhere first. Then, you have to send a link to the person you are trying to send it to. It’s a hassle. Mail Drop eliminates that. You simply create your email and add your attachment. OS X automatically uploads the large attachment to iCloud and includes a link to download the file in your email.  This is a very cool feature.

And Much More…

As you can see, there are a lot of cool new features coming with Yosemite. I’ve barely scratched the surface here. If you want to learn more, take a look at the Yosemite section of Apple’s website.

Mac OS X Evolves

Yosemite marks a turning point in the evolution of the Mac OS, in both design and function. I think we’ll continue to see more and more integration and influence between Mac OS and iOS. Whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen.

One last thing….

Did I mention that Yosemite will be free?

You certainly can’t complain about that.

Steve