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.
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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.
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.
OS X Yosemite makes use of translucency.
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.
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.
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.
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.
OS X Yosemite has new Mail features.
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).
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.
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.
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.