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

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10 Reasons to Get a Mac

 

Are you a PC user interested in buying a Mac, but you’re just not sure?

Do you have an iPhone and iPad and love the experience so much that you want to take the next step and buy a Mac?

Are you tired of dealing with viruses or constant Microsoft security patches?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, I have one question for you.

What’s stopping you?

There’s never been a better time to get a Mac.

PC vs. Mac

Image: MatteoIonescu.com

If Apple’s PC vs. Mac ads didn’t convince you, maybe I can. Here are my 10 reasons to get a Mac.

1. Macs Are Easy to Learn

Macs are famous for being easy to use. Even if you’ve never used a Mac before, Mac OS X makes it easy for a new user to be productive quickly. Sure, things are a bit different from they are on Windows. But, they aren’t so different that you can’t figure them out.

Things are logically designed. There are folders for applications, documents, downloads, music, videos, and pictures. Tasks like installing a new application is incredibly easy. Most of them time, you just drag the application onto the application folder and voila—it’s installed. No muss, no fuss. Try that on Windows!

Plus, there’s built-in help and universal search, to help you get up and running quickly.

2. Macs Are Like an iPhone or iPad Only Much Bigger

Given the millions of iPhones and iPads Apple has sold, chances are you already own an iOS device. If you do, you are already familiar with some of the applications that are included with every Mac. For example, Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Maps, Messages, and Reminders on the Mac are nearly identical to their iOS counterparts. There’s instant familiarity.

App Store

Image: Vledoc.hubpages.com

Then there’s the Mac App Store. It’s just like the app store you access from your iOS device, but it’s for buying Mac applications. It’s built right into the Mac OS. Purchase and install is a breeze—literally one click. It also keeps track of all of your purchases and alerts you when there are updates. Accidentally deleted an application? No problem. You can easily reinstall it from the Mac App Store.

3. Anti-Virus Software is Optional

The Mac OS X operating system is rock solid and incredibly secure. It has a built-in firewall and other defenses to keep pesky digital invaders away. The biggest advantage that Macs have is that there are virtually no Mac OS viruses. Yes, it’s true. Nearly 99.99% of computer viruses and trojans are PC only. In fact, most Mac users don’t ever install anti-virus software. There isn’t really a need. I mean, there is Mac anti-virus software available (even a great free one), but most Mac users don’t bother.

Mac Security

Image: Damballa.com

You can enjoy your computing experience pretty much worry free. NO Windows user can say that!

4. Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Much More

Surprisingly, many people don’t realize that Microsoft makes the Microsoft Office Suite for the Mac as well as for Windows. They certainly do. As a matter of fact, Microsoft Excel was actually released for the Mac before it was released for Windows. Yes, the key applications that most people use are available. You’ll find Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and even Outlook in Mac versions.

Microsoft isn’t the only software maker supporting the Mac. Adobe has long made excellent Mac software. You’ll find the complete Creative Cloud Suite available for Mac. That includes heavyweights like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

Did you know that several programs, like Excel and Photoshop were first available only on the Mac?

There are other big name players, as well as many smaller developers, producing great applications for the Mac.

The best part is that files created in Windows versions of these programs can be opened in the Mac version, and vice verse.

5. Great Free Applications

Speaking of applications, each new Mac comes packed with some terrific free ones. There’s iPhoto, for editing and managing pictures, iMovie for creating videos, and GarageBand for creating music.

Apps

Image: Apple.com

Even better, now all new Macs come with the complete iWork suite. This is Apple’s version of Microsoft Office. It includes Pages (Word Processing), Numbers (Spreadsheet), and Keynote (Presentations).

These are all high-quality, full-featured applications. Since they were all created by Apple, they are easy to use. Did I mention these are all free?

You’d need to spend more than a few bucks to buy comparable programs for a Windows PC.

6. Run Windows (If you must)

One of the best-selling features of the Mac is that you can still run Windows if you need to. For several years now, Macs have been using the same Intel processors that PCs use. That means, it’s easy to install and run a copy of Windows to run programs that might not be available for Mac, or for cross-platform development purposes.

Out of the box, Apple supports installing your own copy of Windows on a Mac. You can then either boot your Mac running Mac OS X, or Windows. How great is that? Or, there are some cool software programs that allow you to install and run Windows side-by-side with you Mac.

The best part is, Windows runs at nearly the same speed as if it were on a “real” PC. It’s kind of like getting two computers for the price of one.

7. Great Value

Without a doubt, you get a lot for you money when you buy a Mac. I remember back in the 90s, Macs were insanely expensive. As great as they were, it was hard to justify spending the money. Now, though, that’s not the case.

MacBook

Image: TwentyFirstTech.com

People often say that Macs are more expensive than Windows PCs. That’s really not true. When you compare a comparably equipped Windows PC with a Mac, the Mac wins hands down.

Sure, you can go buy a $500 PC. But, what do you actually get for that? Usually, not much.

You can buy a really expensive Mac too, but you don’t have to. You can get a well-equipped Mac for much less than you might think. There’s a range of Macs available for every budget. If you’re a student, Apple even gives you a discount.

8. Support

I can sum up the Apple support experience in two words: Genius Bar.

Genius Bar

Image: PatentlyApple.com

It’s truly amazing. You can walk into any Apple Store and talk to an Apple Genius about any problem with any Apple device. They’ll provide support even if you’re Mac is out of warranty.

And it’s free!

9. Macs Hold Their Value

Macs are beautifully designed, well-built machines. You really do get what you pay for when you buy one. When it comes time to buy a new Mac, selling your old one is easy. Macs hold their value better than any other computer. You can generally either trade-in or sell your Mac and get back a good chunk of your investment.

I usually buy a new Mac every three years. Each time I do, I sell my old Mac. I’m always amazed how much I end up getting for it. Mind you, I do take good care of my Macs, but it’s still a delightful surprise.

How much will you get for that $500 PC you bought from Dell? I think I’m safe in saying, not much.

10. Mac Community

When you buy a Mac, you become a member of the large and supportive Mac community. You’ll find have access to a wealth of help and support from your fellow Mac users. There are amazing Mac articles, blogs, and forums. Mac users are typically a passionate bunch. We like to help and take care of our own. You’ll find that requests for help seldom go unanswered.

Smiling Mac

Image: IconArchive.com

Whether you just bought your first Mac and are looking for help getting started, or you’re a seasoned pro looking for help with a vexing Mac problem, the Mac community is there to assist. I’m always amazed by the sheer volume and high quality of resources available from other Mac users.

Do yourself a favor. Go visit an Apple Store. At the very least, you can play with some cool technology.

Who knows, you may even walk out with a shiny new Mac!

Steve

 

 

The Macintosh at 30: A Look Back

 

Apple

Image: Apple.com

Happy Birthday Mac

In January, the Macintosh celebrated it’s 30th birthday. Apple created a special section on its site to mark the occasion. It has some beautiful visuals, along with a cool interactive Macintosh timeline, and a video. In typical Apple style, it is impressive.

“1984″

The Macintosh was officially introduced on January 22, 1984, in a now classic commercial aired during Super Bowl XVII. I was 10 years old at the time. I didn’t watch the Super Bowl, but I vividly remember seeing the commercial later. The “1984” commercial was as distinct as the computer it introduced. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend watching it. It’s an homage to George Orwell’s book 1984.

First Meeting

Even at that young age, I remember being fascinated by the little computer and the company that created it. Even though it would be more than 10 years before I actually owned my first Macintosh, I still felt a connection to it. It was a symbol of the 80s—the decade that I grew up in. In a way, the Mac and I grew up together. But, back then, I had no idea what an impact the Macintosh would have in computing. Or, the role it would play in shaping my own life.

My Introduction to Computers

In the 1980s, things were very different in the world of computers than they are today. I didn’t know much about Apple or about any other computer. My introduction to that came from my Dad. He was what we would now call a “techie”. We always seemed to have the latest electronic gadgets in our house. We were the first on our block to have cable, and a VCR. In 1981, he bought our first family computer, a Commodore VIC-20. I was 7 years old, but I was amazed by it. I spent hours using it to play games (pretty terrible ones by today’s standards).

Commodore 64

Image: graphics8.nytimes.com

A few years later, he (like millions of others) bought us a Commodore 64. For years, that was our family computer. My Dad used it for work (and believe it or not to go online). I used it for games. The Commodore 64 was not fast (in fact it was unbelievable slow), but it had some great games. For those who have never heard of it before, it was the Playstation/Xbox of the mid-late 80s. My Dad tried to get me into learning computer programming, but I had no real interest. Once IBM got serious about home computing, the Commodore started to fade (helped in part by Nintendo’s entry into the market). Once the Macintosh was introduced, it became a competition between the IBM PC and the Mac.

My First Mac

I didn’t buy my first computer until 1995, and it was a Macintosh (a Macintosh Performa 6300CD, to be exact). I remember my Dad deriding the Mac as “not PC-compatible”, as if that was the only thing that counted. All I know is that I couldn’t have been more pleased with my Mac. The first time I powered it up and heard the startup chime, I fell in love. I had discovered what millions of Macintosh users had already experienced: the Mac was fun and easy to use. It did everything that I needed it to do. There was something about the design and simplicity that I connected with.

Macintosh Performa 6300CD

Image: Revneal.org

I may have been forced to use a crappy IBM PC at work, but I was happy to come home to my Mac which literally smiled at me when I powered it up. I was hooked. I’ve been a loyal Macintosh user ever since, proudly extolling its virtues to anyone who’ll listen.

Connections

Here are some interesting facts that may explain my strong bond with Apple and the Macintosh.

The Macintosh and I were both born in the same month.

We were both born in January. In fact, we both celebrated milestone birthdays this year. I turned 40, and the Mac turned 30.

Apple and I were born on the same day.

Interestingly enough, both Apple and I were born on January 3rd. Though, I’m older by 4 years. Apple Computer was incorporated in the state of California (my home state) on January 3, 1977.

Born? Really?

You might think it strange to say that a computer or a company were “born”. It’s true that they weren’t born in the conventional sense, but the general idea still applies. I always though the commonalities were interesting. Interesting enough, it seems, to share with the world on a blog!

Smiling Mac

Image: IconArchive.com

Always Loyal

I’ve stuck with the Mac through good times and bad. I remember the dark times in the 90s when everyone left Apple for dead. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like for Apple not to be on top. But, back then, being a Mac user was definitely not cool. Fortunately, the resurrection of Steve Jobs and the introduction of the iMac put Apple back on track. Before long, Apple was cranking out fantastic new products like the iBook and iPod. With the iPhone and iPad, Apple not only returned to profitability, it became a cultural icon. Buying a Mac, or any Apple product, now is common. To some, it might make you seem cool. Funny how things change.

For those of us who remember the Mac’s beginnings and stuck with it when others abandoned it, we celebrate 30 years with pride. Here’s hoping for another 30 years of the Mac.

Steve