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The Lowdown: Apple unveils OS X Yosemite with deeper iOS 8 integration


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At the ongoing annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC 2014), Apple unveiled the next major version of its OS X operating system called OS X Yosemite and announced a Dropbox-like file system for iCloud called iCloud Drive. 

You can read about the OS X developer initiatives announced at the conference here. A quick lowdown on all other OS X related announcements below:

OS X Stats: The total Mac user base now stands at 80 million with 51% of them on the latest version, OS X Mavericks. Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed that around 40 million copies of OS X Mavericks have been installed since its release in October 2013, which is apparently the highest of a single release ever in Apple’s history.

OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite: Apple previewed its 11th major OS X release, named ‘OS X Yosemite’ bringing in new features like a new flat translucent interface for windows and dock, a new optional dark mode, improved notification center, revamped spotlight interface and new continuity features among others.

Continuity Features: Among the new features, the new continuity features is probably the most intriguing and standout feature for OS X Yosemite and provides an indication on how the lines are blurring between iOS and OS X.

First off, Apple’s wireless file transfer service Airdrop now works between iOS and OS X. i.e users can wirelessly share photos, videos, websites and locations between iPhone, iPad and Mac.

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A new feature called Handoff allows users to start work on one device and then finish on the other device instantly. For instance, if you are composing an email on your iPhone near your Mac, the latter may use proximity sensor to prompt you to finish the email from your computer rather than your phone. Alternatively, you can start working on a document on iWork on Mac and then pass it onto iPad to continue your work.

Instant hotspot feature allows users to use their iPhone’s cellular data connection as a Wi-Fi hotspot on their Mac more easily. Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi claimed that the Mac will instantly recognize that your phone is nearby and lets you set it up instantly.

What’s particularly interesting though is one can now sync SMS messages with the Messages app to view it on all their iOS/OS X devices and even send SMS directly from the Mac. Users will also be able to make or receive calls using their Mac as a speakerphone. One can also make calls directly from a webpage by selecting the phone number and dialing it from the contextual menu. Federighi claimed that this feature will work even if the user’s phone is across the house.

Frankly, this is what Microsoft should’ve also done with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. We had earlier heard that the company had similar plans with Windows operating system but we are yet to see it.

Apart from this, Apple seems to have cherry picked select features from its competitors to introduce several new features in OS X Yosemite:

iCloud Drive icon

iCloud Drive: It announced a Dropbox-like file system for iCloud called iCloud Drive. The company said this folder is built-into the Finder and will work like any other folder on the user’s Mac. Users can drag documents into it, organize them with folders and tags and search for them using Spotlight. Besides Apple’s platforms, it also offers support for Windows computers.

The first 5GB is free, following which there are paid tiers: 20 GB for $0.99 per month, 200 GB for $3.99 per month and an yet un-priced 1TB tier.

Other features in OS X Yosemite include:

– A revamped Spotlight interface, which is reminiscent of the popular OS X launcher Alfred and Windows application launcher Launchy. It also now offers results from Wikipedia, Apple Maps, Bing, App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store, besides results for news and movie showtime.

–  A new version of Mail which allows users to fill out and sign forms as well as annotate images and PDFs. This seems to be inspired from what Evernote-owned Skitch currently offers. The inspiration doesn’t end there – The app also has a new feature called Mail Drop which allows users to store videos, images or files up to 5GB on iCloud and send a download link to the recipient email address. This is quite similar to what Hightail (formerly YouSendIt) or Dropbox offers.

Revamped Safari app which features a new Favorites view providing quick access to the user’s favorite websites. Other new features include separate private browsing windows, built-in support for the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo, spotlight suggestions in the address bar and a new Tab view which displays the thumbnails of all the open web pages in a single window.

– An iOS-like Today View in the notification center which features upcoming calendar appointments, reminders, stocks weather and more.

OS X Mavericks is expected to be available for download from the Mac App Store in the fall for free, with a developer preview available for registered OS X developers on Apple developer website today. Interestingly, the company has also launched a public OS X beta program starting this Summer, although it is apparently limited to only the first million registered users.

  • Sameer Karmarkar

    In the last para you probably meant Yosemite not Mavericks…