Apple

OS X Yosemite: Apple's biggest Mac redesign in years

OS X Yosemite is the biggest redesign we've seen on the Mac in many years. Here's a brief look at what's new.

OS X Yosemite
 Image: Apple

With OS X Yosemite, Apple appears to have taken inspiration from the best parts of iOS in its new feature set. In iOS 7, Apple's designers focused on using transparency and layers to give a "sense of place" on the screen, showing where different apps and features stood in relation to each other. The company has brought that to OS X now, with extensive transparency and a unified look that will drive app design on the platform for years to come.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery.

Yosemite desktop

The overall look of the desktop hasn't changed much, especially to the casual observer. But to a designer's eye, the Dock is taken directly from iOS (Figure A), losing the shelf-like look from Mavericks.

Figure A

Figure A

The look of the desktop in Yosemite.

Translucency in OS X Yosemite

Translucency is everywhere, with the desktop image coming through the Dock slightly and the website appearing through the sidebar in Messages (Figure B). It's a subtle but significant change that makes selection of desktop picture extremely important.

Figure B

Figure B
 Image: Apple

OS X Yosemite makes use of translucency.

Spotlight redesign

Apple has redesigned Spotlight (Figure C), taking inspiration from third-party apps like Alfred. It's in the middle of the screen rather than the top right of the menubar, and it pulls information from Maps, Wikipedia, suggested websites, and more, in addition to searching the local computer like it used to.

Figure C

Figure C

OS X Yosemite has redesigned Spotlight.

New notification center

The new notification center is more customizable (Figure D), with developers able to design widgets for it. The new translucent view is apparent here as well.

Figure D

Figure D

OS X Yosemite has a new notification center.

Continuity in OS X Yosemite

As part of its new Continuity feature set, OS X Yosemite can now send and receive phone calls and text messages via a nearby iPhone (Figure E). Apple is looking to let users do whatever they need to do, from whatever device is in front of them.

Figure E

Figure E
 Image: Apple

OS X Yosemite focuses on Continuity.

New Mail features

Apple has added a number of new features to Mail, including the ability to draw and annotate images right within the app (Figure F), as well as a new MailDrop feature that allows users to send files as large as 5 GB. MailDrop competes directly with similar services from Hightail, DropBox, and others.

Figure F

Figure F
 Image: Apple

OS X Yosemite has new Mail features.

Safari improvements

It's not just Spotlight that has received an infusion of new search sources. Safari's search box now pulls data from Maps, Wikipedia, iTunes, and news sources in addition to the standard search engine results (Figure G).

Figure G

Figure G

OS X Yosemite has improvements in Safari.

Revamped user interface

Apple has looked to slim down the user interface across its apps (Figure H), allowing users to focus on their content. The Safari team has removed the favorites toolbar (though it can be turned back on) in favor of a drop-down box showing frequently visited websites when users click in the address box.

Figure H

Figure H

OS X Yosemite has a revamped user interface.

What OS X Yosemite features -- if any -- are you most excited about? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

About

Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.

6 comments
programit
programit

Looks like a cross between Windows 7 and Windows 8?

Nothing seems revolutionary, as normal for apple lately.  Maybe they are finally going to catchup with other OS's.

As far as integrating mobile with desktop, every modern OS does that anyway.

Eg. I take my office documents from android to Windows to Linix and back. Same with most other services such as email, storage etc. I can create a doc on the home PC, editted at work or on my mobile and have been able to do that for years.

Apple like to make a big deal out of minor updates, of which they are only playing catchup with Android, and Windows. (And linux)

Must admit that OSX still looks like it come from the 90's. Now with transparency, that I believe XP had! (And linux, and android and . .. . . .) 

Apple have definitely lost their wow factor!

'techy'
'techy'

I love the way Apple is integrating their devices. A lot of articles are saying Apple has copied things from Android, which is true, but they also made most functions better by integrating it in iOS so there's no need for a third party. Also, with Yosemite and iPhone combined with the ease of use and integration, it's difficult for Android to compete, which is a little sad because it's such a great platform.

deasystems
deasystems

@programit Looks like a cross between OS X 10.9 and iOS 7, but mostly OS X 10.9.


No company *except* Apple makes anything revolutionary. This particular new product is evolutionary and no other OS has anything like it. It appears you either missed the section on "Continuity" or didn't understand it. Your fourth and fifth paragraphs clearly show the latter.


No other operating system has anything close to the integration Apple provides between its devices and operating systems.

calzadilla
calzadilla

@'techy'  "it's difficult for Android to compete" -- what is innovative about Yosemite and iPhone? I have been using my Alienware laptop with my Android phone for a very long time.  It is called Bluetooth the same thing that I am sure Apple is using for this "integration". Any laptop or desktop with Bluetooth has always had this capability.

'techy'
'techy'

@calzadilla not entirely sure what you're referring to, but my point was, apple doesn't have to install a third party app to make their stuff work together which makes it simple to use for everyone, it's simple and it works, that's all that counts for those that have a basic understanding of technology.

Editor's Picks