OS X 10.10 Yosemite – Top new features

Named after the national park in California, senior VP Craig Federighi shared the story of how the team arrived at the name Yosemite as he took the stage at WWDC 2014, drawing laughter from the crowd. In this article, we’ll explore the new features of OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

Refreshed look

Yosemite has received a redesign for a cleaner, simpler, and flatter look. The system font has changed from Lucida Grande to Helvetica Neue,  the dock icons redesigned to resemble iOS more, and there is a focus on translucency, from the title bars to the Notification Center. These give OS X a more modern look, and brings iOS and OS X together closer.

There is also a ‘dark mode’ which turns things like the dock dark, best explained by the photo below.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 2.11.59 pm

iCloud Drive

The new iCloud Drive shows you what you currently have in your iCloud, even files from your iOS apps, in Finder, complete with tagging abilities. Basically Dropbox.

Spotlight

Spotlight has received a major update in Yosemite. Launching Spotlight will no longer open up a small search bar in the corner, but will instead open up a huge search bar in the middle of the screen. This may be kind of intrusive to some, so hopefully Apple includes the option to revert it.

An interesting new feature brings about previews of documents, Wikipedia articles, and even Maps results, all in the handy little Spotlight search. It can also perform simple conversions, such as converting from imperial to metric units.

Notification Center

The Notification Center, now translucent, has been updated to include a ‘Today’ section, just like the Notification Center in iOS.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 2.13.24 pm

You can view your calendar, do simple calculations with the calculator, and even choose to add more via third-party widgets and apps from the App store.

Safari

Safari also received some pretty big changes. For one, the title bar and address bar merges, giving a much cleaner look and more space for content. The address bar can also suggest relevant Wikipedia articles when you enter something, like Spotlight.

Included is also a ‘share’ button from iOS, allowing you to share webpages and photos conveniently from your browser.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 2.23.35 pmUsers can now scroll through the open tabs, addressing the problem of hard-to-access tabs that are hidden from view when too many are open, and also enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the open tabs, reminiscent of iOS’ Safari. Pages from the same website are thoughtfully grouped together.

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Mail

Apple claims to be going back to the basics, with more reliable and quicker syncing of mail. This is largely appreciated, all too often my phone, set to fetch new emails every 30 minutes, notifies me of a new email before my Mac does.

However, there is a twist. In the form of the new Mail Drop and Markup.

Mail Drop takes advantage of iCloud and bypasses the traditional 20 MB limit of email attachments, allowing you to attach files of sizes up to 5 GB. Mac users will see the mail as it is, while non-Mac users will instead receive a link to download the attachment from iCloud. While it is thoughtful for Apple to include this new feature, the prevalence of existing cloud storage providers may make this somewhat redundant.

Markup allows you to make edits on files like photos and PDFs in the Mail app itself, eliminating the need to open the file in Preview and editing it before attaching it back to the email. Apple demonstrated the ability to doodle on photos and to annotate on the PDF itself, which is certainly welcome. Markup is also smart enough to turn your crude drawings of arrows and boxes into better-looking shapes, thankfully.

Continuity

One thing Apple is really focused on in WWDC 2014 is ‘continuity’, integrating iOS and OS X together seamlessly by taking advantage of proximity awareness of the devices. As such, many new little features were introduced, such as the ability to use AirDrop between Macs and iPhones (which was weirdly not put in place in the first place), and messaging & calling right from your Mac.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 2.37.04 pm

Previously, only iMessages appeared on your Mac and iPad, but with iOS 8 and Yosemite, even your ‘green bubble friends’ sync across your devices. You can also use your Mac as a speakerphone, and Craig demonstrated that on-stage as he called Dr. Dre on his Mac, without even touching his iPhone. I would imagine that this requires your iPhone to be in close proximity, but Craig claims that your phone can be ‘across the house in a charger’ and it will still work.

A nifty little feature also allows your Mac to use your iPhone as a wireless hotspot when it detects your iPhone all from your Mac, even when your phone is ‘across the room sitting in a handbag’.

Handoff

An impressive new feature stemming from the focus on ‘continuity’ is Handoff, making the transition from iOS to OS X and vice versa seamless.

As Craig demonstrated, you can be typing an email on your iOS device, and if your Mac is near enough, a prompt will appear on your dock, and clicking on it will launch Mail where you can continue typing the email on your Mac. Same goes for the other way, you can be viewing a spreadsheet in Numbers or a webpage on Safari while on your Mac, and seamlessly switch to your iPad when it prompts you.

I would imagine this feature to be insanely handy, but that is if you own an iPhone/iPad and a Mac. Well, that just provides you with another reason to jump (or lock yourself, as some would say) into Apple’s ecosystem.

Conclusion

While the number 10.10 may not necessarily make sense, the new features of Yosemite certainly do, and are most welcome. If you are like myself and can’t wait for it to arrive, be sure to check out the OS X Beta Program!

Also do check out what we felt were the top 10 features of iOS 8, also announced earlier today at WWDC.

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