WWDC 2014: OS X Yosemite

Category: Features
yosemite

Hold on to your hats folks.

Today, Apple made an absolute boat-load of announcements at their 2014 Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco, announcing a new version of OS X, an updated iOS, and a stack of developer-related changes to how Mac and iOS apps will be built in the future.

First up today, let’s take a look at the new version of OS X, codename Yosemite (who had that on their bingo card?).

As I watched the keynote this morning at a cheery 3am, I was struck by how much Apple are pushing seamless integration between their platforms now. Yosemite weaves a slew of new features –passive and active, cloud and local– into its design. Most of them have a central tenant; to drastically simplify life for a user with both a Mac, iPad and iPhone.

Here are some of the features that especially stood out to me.

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  • New iOS-like design – translucency features very heavily. Full-screen mode has been consolidated into the green stoplight. There’s a new dock design (new trash bin too), new icons and thinner typography now features heavily across the entire interface.
  • ‘Dark-mode’ interface for OS X – windows and menus can change to a dark translucent background with light text.
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  • Redesigned Notification Center – with both ‘notification’ and ‘Today’ views. ‘Today’ view includes calendar, reminders, weather, stocks and also the ability to pull in widgets from apps in the Mac App store. They demoed an ESPN SportsCenter app, but I could envisage all kinds of apps working great in that slot (hello Evernote!).
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  • New Spotlight – Kinda looks a lot like Alfred now. Launches front and center instead of up in the top corner, provides access to documents, apps, maps, directions, currency conversions, music, movies and web search.
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  • ‘Handoff’ – shoot apps from Mac to iOS and vice-versa. Apps passively recognise the devices around then, and allow you to initiate the change (from the dock on the Mac, and lock screen on iOS). Handoff works with Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts. App developers can build Handoff into their apps too.
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  • ‘Continuity’ – Now you can make and receive calls on your Mac like a big speakerphone, send and receive SMS messages on your Mac too. The SMS trickery works by pairing with your phone. It appears to be bluetooth that’s pulling off these tricks.
  • Instant hotspot from Mac to iPhone, directly from the wifi menu on the Mac. No more fiddling around in the iOS settings to initiate a hotspot.
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  • Safari – Redesigned UI and all-in-one toolbar, new privacy features, tab grouping view, tons of improved performance and power saving stats.
  • Mail – send large attachments with Mail Drop via iCloud (up to 5GB). Skitch-like annotation is now available in emails too, with some nifty draw-centric recognition features (the demo featured a roughly ‘drawn’ arrow, which morphed into a proper arrow).
  • Messages – SMS messages now sync to your Mac, you can add/remove people from conversations, there are message-level ‘do not disturb’ controls, you can add conversation titles, and also add audio and video quick messages. Basically, Messages has got a huge revamp. Hopefully it’s more reliable too.
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  • iCloud Drive – Big announcement! An iCloud competitor to Dropbox, with file-system level drive syncing across OS X and iOS. Also works on Windows, and can be accessed on icloud.com. Apple also announced 20 GB of storage will be US$0.99 per month, and 200 GB for US$3.99 per month. This will solve a whole bunch of conceptual problems with saving to iCloud, and having duplicate documents across apps. Really big deal, but certainly will add some complexity to iOS that didn’t exist before.
  • Airdrop update – Mac to iOS AirDrop is finally enabled
  • New Photos in OS X – iCloud Photo Library-synced app for the Mac, coming in early 2015

On the topic of photos, Apple also introduced iCloud Photo Library across all devices:

“in iOS 8, the Photos app and iCloud Photo Library give you access to all of your photos and videos anytime, anywhere. Your photos are easy to find and are organised consistently across your enabled devices. The Photos app can automatically straighten horizons and with smart editing tools, you can quickly adjust light and colour or access individual tools for deeper fine-tuning. With iCloud Photo Library, every adjustment and effect is automatically updated across your devices.”

 More on Photos in a later post.

Yosemite will continue the pricing trend of OS X updates, being free to download for any Mac user. It will be available ‘this fall’ (read as: September-November for us Aussies).

Overall, it looks like a huge update, and one that will solidify the relationship between OS X and iOS. Basically, Apple is going to make your life really simple and awesome if you have both a Mac and an iPhone. If you don’t? Well…