Another WWDC Keynote has come and gone. And in its wake we find ourselves all a buzz with excitement and anticipation for the latest and greatest from Apple to come to fruition. This is what was given about the latest iteration of OS X called Yosemite. Many things can be said about Apple, especially their naming convention. Since the switch from big cats to scenic landmarks with Mavericks, Apple was scratching their collective heads and wondering what they would call the latest version of OS X. If you watched the Keynote on June 2, Craig Federighi made some comical suggestions before revealing the name, OS X Yosemite. Apple seems to be promoting a theme of simplicity all while increasing the features and capabilities of their products. Everything from the flat design of the icons, to the minimalist design of Spotlight, the theme is simplicity.
OS X Yosemite
OS X Yosemite features the flat design first unveiled with iOS 7 last fall. Also new: a Dark Mode that changes the menu bar to a translucent black hue and new dock icons. Search via Spotlight now also integrate results from a variety of resources, such as the iTunes store and Apple Maps locations. OS X Yosemite also features a slew of updates to its Mail and Safari apps. Users can now send files up to 5GB in size via the Mail Drop feature, or mark up images straight in the app before sending it off. The Safari app boasts a redesign to its address bar, favorites and subscription tabs.
AirDrop iOS compatibility
One feature Mac business users needed was the ability to transfer files between iOS devices and Macs using AirDrop. Yosemite fixes the problem of simple local file sharing between iOS-powered phones and tablets and OS X-powered computers by introducing such compatibility. Business users who frequently meet in conference rooms, airports, coffee shops, and numerous other common areas where client meetings, presentations, department conferences, and seminars are routinely held will find the ability to easily transfer files using Apple’s proven AirDrop technology more than helpful. This feature will also reduce their dependency on LANs and file sharing sites.
Handoff is another of those features that, five years from now, users will look back and wonder how they managed without. Business users have become accustomed to beginning an email on an iPad or composing a document or spreadsheet while flying. Upon landing, they might forward the draft message or email the incomplete file to their desktops. Back at the desktop, users might locate the forwarded draft message or track down the as-yet incomplete document or spreadsheet in iCloud or within an email message. The process is clunky and inefficient. Using Handoff, Yosemite presents a small notification window in the lower left corner that indicates the user was working on drafting an email, composing a document, or building a spreadsheet on another device. With Yosemite, a user can choose to pick up right where he or she left off, hand the projects off to the Mac, and continue working essentially uninterrupted. The feature makes it exponentially easier to use multiple devices and manage modern business challenges in which one is constantly moving from office to client site to meeting venue and back.
Yosemite’s most important feature, however, may be approaching under the radar. In addition to the Handoff continuity feature, Apple developers have integrated telephony services within the OS. Assuming both the user’s phone and Mac are operating on the same Wi-Fi network, users can use their Macs similar to a softphone. With Yosemite, users can receive Caller ID information for incoming calls on their Macs. Using a Yosemite-powered Mac, users can set up their computer as a speakerphone and even place outgoing calls by clicking on contacts and telephone numbers from within web pages. A seemingly small update — being able to use the Mac as a softphone — could well change the way business users place and receive telephone calls. With the ability to manage telephony services — see who’s calling, answer calls, and place calls — from the desktop or laptop, it’s highly likely that users will become less dependent on third-party telephony systems to perform those functions.
One feature that is as powerful as it is ingenious, is Mail Drop. This feature is targeted to alleviate the headache of sending large files through mail servers. Most times when sending an attachment through email, you have to be careful of how large the file is. Most companies don’t let you send an email out that is over 25MB. With Mail Drop, users will be able to send files up to 5GB in size by using the iCloud service to literally circumvent the mail server and send the file. When the other user has a Mac, it will show directly in the mail app. If the other user is using another platform, it will show up as a link and they can download the attachment from there.
This feature is one of the best. When sending a picture to someone, it can be a hassle if you want to do anything other than send the picture. If you want to caption or annotate the photo in any way, you’d have to open the picture in an app, make your changes, save the picture, and send it out. Markup makes it simpler. If you want to do something with a picture, click on markup and go to work. Markup allows you to zoom in to a picture, place call out boxes, and draw on them as well. The best part about it is that it takes your drawn images and converts them to actual shapes. For instance, we all know that a touchpad limits our ability to make even a simple shape. Next time you find yourself on one, try to draw an arrow that looks halfway decent. With Markup, it will automatically convert the drawn shape into a graphic. It even does the same if you want to make a callout box.
Family Sharing allows up to six family members using the same credit card to access the same purchased item. It also includes a notification to the cardholder when someone else wants to buy something. That’ll be great for those penny pinchers out there.
With OS X Yosemite comes iCloud Drive, a cloud-based storage system that works from within the Finder. The documents also sync across other Mac computers and iOS devices. This will even include the Window users out there!
Spotlight is a great feature as it is, but what Apple has done with it is nothing short of innovative. With the revamped Spotlight, you can use to search the web just by typing from your home screen. The search will bring up apps, documents, movie showtimes, and even show Wikipedia results. All without opening any app or webpage.
Safari was given a big makeover for OS X Yosemite. The theme of simplifying things while adding new features continues on with Apple’s Browser. The most noticeable thing is when you open Safari is the thin, one-bar browser bar that the company insists eliminates the need for a standard favorites bar. Now, when you type a search term into the address bar you’ll be greeted with results from the web, a list of relevant sites you’ve already added as bookmarks, as well as a Spotlight search of your computer. There’s also a new sharing feature that lets you forward web pages to social networks Twitter and Facebook, and send them to your recent contacts via Mail. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds right from the menu and then have those subscriptions pop up in a Safari sidebar. Tabs also get an update with a new overview screen that shows a screenshot of all your tabs at once, and stacks tabs from the same site.
Keeping in tradition with the previous software releases, the upgrade from Mavericks to Yosemite will be free. A first for Apple though is a beta program for Yosemite. This will allow people who are not developers, but want to get access to the latest greatest (without having to pay an arm and a leg or going about it illegally) a way to download the beta and use the new features. All the while giving their input to Apple and assisting the developers to refine the user experience.
With OS X Yosemite, they released Instant Hotspot. This is the ultimate in phone integration, you’ve long been able to use your iPhone as a cellular-data hotspot when you need to get your Mac online but you’re out of range of a Wi-Fi network. Under Yosemite and iOS 8, the new Instant Hotspot feature displays your iPhone in OS X’s systemwide Wi-Fi menu (assuming, of course, that your iPhone is on and nearby). Choose it, and your iPhone automatically sets up a secure Wi-Fi hotspot and your Mac connects to it—no messy, multi-step configuration necessary. Apple says that the menu will even display your phone’s signal strength and battery life, and your Mac will disconnect from the phone when not accessing the network.
Finally, we’ve all experienced the frustration and confusion of browsing a Messages conversation on our Mac, iPad, or iPod touch and realizing that messages sent using SMS—rather than Apple’s iMessage service—are missing. Under Yosemite and iOS 8, your phone relays SMS messages to all your other devices, so the entire conversation shows up on every one. You’ll even be able to send SMS messages from your Mac—great for exchanging messages with people who don’t use an iPhone. (And if, like us, you often had problems with even iMessage messages showing up on all devices, that’s supposed to work better, too.)
The more functionality that Apple integrates within the OS, typically the easier those elements become to use. With Yosemite, Apple continues making small but progressive steps toward easing business users’ computing challenges with elegant, seemingly minor touches. Add those innovations up over time, however, and it makes quite a difference. Both Business and home users have come a long way with the 10th iteration of OS X.