CEO Tim Cook took a risk by going to WWDC without any hardware announcements -- no new iPad or iPhone, for example -- but in the absence of new gadgets, the Cupertino outfit generated some excitement by overhauling Mac OS X 10. The new version -- OS X 10.10 Yosemite -- brings to the table a redesigned UI with a few slick new features. Best of all for Mac
users, OS X 10.10 will be rolled out for free in the fall.
Yosemite has a flatter look than Mavericks
, which isn't surprising since Apple did the same with iOS in version 7. One of the features Apple was really excited about was the inclusion of semi-translucent windows that adjust their color temperature based on the background. Toolbars and borders take on a translucent look to reveal the desktop background, and the same is true when scrolling apps and thumbnail images within open windows.
Everything's been modernized in Yosemite, including the dock and windows, both of which sport sharper corners. Users can also select a "dark mode" that dims the UI so that you can focus on what you're working on.
Beyond the aesthetics, Apple tweaked the Notification Center with a new Today view. At a glance, you can see what's on your calendar, the weather, stock quotes, reminders you have set for yourself, and other tidbits. It also works with third-party widgets -- the one Apple demonstrated was from ESPN Sportscenter. With a simply click and drag, the ESPN widget nestled right into the Notification Center to provide scores and news updates at a glance. In short, it's more usable and relevant than ever before.
As for surfing the web, Apple made some tweaks to its Safari browser. Like competing browsers, Safari takes a minimalistic approach, though Apple claims it's much faster than both Chrome or Firefox. You can look up and search for things in the address bar, and also scroll through tabs -- they whiz by horizontally in the tab bar, or you can take a birds eye view of all open tabs.
Also integrated into OS X 10.10 is iCloud Drive. The comparisons to
Dropbox here are inevitable. It provides cloud sharing and synching of
documents to iCloud -- it works with iOS, OS X, and Windows. Apps you
use with iCloud Drive get their own folder, and you can access them
through Finder. This is a feature that should have been rolled out a
long time ago, but hey, better late than never, right?
A feature that Mac users are apt to be most excited about is the ability to send and receive large attachments up to 5GB to each other without worrying about them being bounced by their ISP. How so? It's a new feature called MailDrop -- file attachments are encrypted and uploaded to iCloud, effectively bypassing ISP mail server restrictions, and then reattached on the receiving end. For Windows users, they'll receive an encrypted link to download the file.
Finally, the other notable feature in Yosemite is "Handoff," which is designed to allow iOS and OS X devices to work seamless with each other. If you're working on an email on your iPhone or iPad, your Mac will give you the option of picking up where you left off. This also extends to making and receiving phone calls, both of which you can do on your Mac if your iPhone is nearby (this likely uses Bluetooth technology).
Overall it's a pretty big update, and as previously mentioned, it's free this fall.