10 things you need to know about Mac OS X Yosemite

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Apple kicked off its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in California with a keynote address that takes a look at all of new features coming to users later this year when the latest version of OS X, called Yosemite, is released.

The major theme of this year’s update is the interoperability of you iOS devices, particularly your iPhone, and your Mac computer. This is becoming more important for Apple as more and more people invest in Macs with 80 million of them now in the wild to go along with the 800 million iOS devices.

So if you missed the keynote address from Apple CEO Tim Cook and co, then we have you covered with the top 10 things that you need to know about the new Mac OS X Yosemite:

1 – A new lick of paint

Apple is changing the look and feel of Mac OS X with a new design that includes a set of redesigned flat icons, similar to those that you would see in iOS. Windows, title bars and the dock will now have a translucent look that allows them to take on some of the colour from your desktop background which, while new to Apple users, has been in Windows since the mostly disliked Windows Vista. For those who have a particular dislike of Apple’s use of like colours for all of its menus and windows, there is a new ‘dark mode’ that will flip it around to a darker colour scheme. Lastly it’s the end of the line for the Lucida Grande font which is being replaced by something from the Helvetica Neue family of fonts.

2 – A Spotlight on Spotlight

Spotlight search has been given a massive update in OS X Yosemite to include more results from both the local storage and apps on your Mac as well as results from the web. When you search for something inside of Spotlight you will be presented with the usual array of local search results as well as those from the web along with potential Wikipedia articles and maps. Even your messaging conversions with your contact can be sought out inside Spotlight. Spotlight even gets a new home having moved to a pop-up windows front and centre of your Mac’s display instead of being relegated to the top right of the screen.

3 – Notification Centre grows up

Notification centre also gets a large chunk of new functionality as well as a visual update that sees it slide over your desktop instead of pushing it off of the screen to the left. As with the previous iterations, you can still view calendar, weather, reminders and social network notifications, however the Today View from iOS makes its way into Mac OS to give you a deeper overview of what your day will be looking like from your schedule. Third party app developers will now also be able to make widgets for their apps that will enable you to get real-time information from them without having to open up the apps to view it.

4 – iCloud Drive takes on Dropbox

iCloud Drive is an extension of the iCloud online storage and backup service already offered by the Apple, however it has now evolved document and file storage capabilities similar to cloud storage favourite Dropbox. You’ll be able to access your synchronised files from your Mac running OS X, iOS devices as well as Windows PCs. The first 5GB of iCloud storage is still free with 20GB of storage costing $0.99 (R10.50) a month and 200GB costing $3.99 (R42.50) a month which easily bests Dropbox’s 100GB for $9.99/month (R105).

5 – Mail gets some new tricks

Email isn’t something you would normally associate with innovation but Apple has found some new tricks that it can teach the Mail app to make it more efficient and useful in OS X Yosemite. First off is something called Mail Drop which is a smart way around the use of attachments in email. With Mail Drop you can send attachments of up to 5GB in size that are encrypted and stored in iCloud. The recipient can then view the attachments in their mail app without having to download the full attachment or download the attachment separately from the email if they need it. You’ll also be able to signing documents or make handwritten notes with the markup feature that uses either the iSight camera or your Mac’s trackpad.

6 – Handoff your current task between your Mac and iOS gadgets

Handoff is a new feature in OS X Yosemite that uses the proximity of your iOS devices and your Mac to prompt you to take over work that you started on one of them and finish it on another. For example you can start an email on your phone and your Mac will prompt you to finish it there. Or begin working on a  document in iWork on your Mac and your iPad will suggest that you continue your work on it once you move away from your notebook. It also allows you to initiate and connect to a WiFi hotspot on your iPhone right from your Mac.

7 – Airdrop from iOS to Mac

Airdrop has until now only allowed you to transfer files between two iOS gadgets or two Macs but not between the two different operating systems, until now that it. Cross iOS and Mac OS X Airdrop will now be possible in both directions one OS X Yosemite is released into the general population.

8 – SMS & phone calls from your Mac

Got an iPhone and a Mac? Well then you’re in for a treat when OS X Yosemite arrives later this year. Using the same proximity detection as Handoff does, the messages from your iPhone are relayed to the Messages app on your Mac allowing you to read and reply in real-time to text messages on your iPhone. You can even answer and make calls to any of your contacts using your Mac as hands free speakerphone even while your iPhone is in another room charging.

9 – A better, longer lasting Safari

The new version of Safari for OS X has been upgraded to be fully web-standards compliant meaning that you will no longer need plugins to be able to see all of a website. According to Apple this lack of plugins means that you can get up to two hours more battery life out of your Mac by using the new Safari to watch videos. Safari has also undergone a mild redesign with the favourites bar disappearing (although you can bring it back if you choose to) as well as getting a new birds-eye-view of all your open tabs arranged first by domain and then stacked on top of each other like a deck of cards.

10 – You can take part in the beta too

These days Apple lets you sign up to participate in its beta software releases of Mac OS X, so why not try out Yosemite before the scheduled Spring time release?

David Greenway

David Greenway

David is a technology enthusiast with an insatiable thirst for information. He tends to get excited over new hardware and will often be the one in the room going "Its got 17 cores, 64GB of RAM and a 5" 4K flexible OLED display, oh it makes phone calls too?" Currently uses: Too many phones. Wants: World peace... and more phones.