Apple travels to 'Yosemite' with next release of OS X 10.10

Summary:One year after Apple rebranded its desktop operating system from fearsome felines to California landmarks, Mac OS X is getting a much-needed refresh.

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Credit: James Martin, CNET

One year after Apple rebranded its desktop operating system from fearsome felines to California landmarks, Mac OS X is getting a much-needed refresh.

Without waiting a moment, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the latest iteration, dubbed "Yosemite," at the opening keynote of the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday morning.

Cook commenced by praising Mavericks as a great success in its first year with more than 40 million copies installed since last June -- a record not only for Apple but also the "fastest adoption of any PC operating system in history."

"You may wonder how that compares to Windows. I knew someone would ask so I made a chart," Cook quipped to much laughter from the audience.

Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering at Apple, outlined the alterations, down to nitty-gritty changes ranging from the new "Dark Mode" to reimagined icons on the main navigational toolbar.

"You wouldn't believe how much time we spent crafting a trash can," Federighi joked.

Here's an overview of some of the changes coming with Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite:

  • iCloud Drive: Not a Dropbox-killer but a significant addition; makes content and folders "of any sort" accessible and synced automatically across all Apple devices
  • Continuity: An all-new feature finally setting up the Airdrop bridge between iOS and Mac devices. That is in tangent to a handy new feature, conveniently named "Hand Off," in which Mac and iOS devices in proximity of each other will actually recognize each other so that users can pick up what they are working on nearly immediately from device to device.
  • SMS and Phone Calls: The Mac has become "all phone savvy," Federighi remarked. When users receive either SMS text messages or phone calls, Yosemite not only provides Caller ID on the computer, but phone calls can actually go through (or be ignored) directly on the OS X machine.
  • Mail: Redesigned for Yosemite with more reliable syncing and email push collection; Now includes "Mail Drop" for sending encrypted messages via iCloud. Supports attachments up to 5GB
  • Mark-Up: Reminiscent of Evernote-owned Skitch; users can actually zoom in and out to actually mark-up files, including PDFs, while collaborating on projects
  • Safari: "Packs all the power" of Safari (i.e. the Favorites menu) into a single smart search field to maximize space for web content -- items like Subscribe to RSS and sharing abilities pushed off into a smaller, centralized menu; A lot of effort has been placed into improving tab-based browsing to offer a bird's eye view of all open windows with horizontal tab scrolling and a thumbnail tab view.
  • Notifications Center: Borrowing more and more from iOS, the menu now includes a "today" view for at-a-glance information from apps and widgets
  • Spotlight: Search beefed up with more Internet news sources for results
  • Calendar: Revamped aesthetic for week-long and day views
  • Other odds and ends: New typography, color and shading touches on toolbars, and app icons
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Ahead of WWDC, the tech press and analysts have been predicting Apple would center the spotlight on software this week rather than hardware, with more attention directed toward the unveiling of iOS 8.

"You may wonder how that compares to Windows. I knew someone ask so I made a chart," Cook quipped to much laughter from the audience.

Jefferies, for example, published a forecast at the end of May predicting news around iOS 8, OS X, and "Home Automation" was already a done deal while decrying the iPhone 6 had "zero probability" of being shown on stage at Moscone West.

Nevertheless, an upgrade for Mac OS X has been in the cards for some time now -- even if the platform is inching more and more toward a convergence with its mobile counterpart.

Cook even posited that developers could look forward to how the two have been "engineered to work seamlessly together."

Brian J. White, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, suggested last week that the creative mind behind some of Apple's most iconic hardware products would be wielding his influence on the software side as well.

White wrote:

As Jony Ive (SVP, Design) has become more involved in software and helped give iOS 7 a facelift last year, we would not be surprised if he wields his talents on the newest version of OS X 10.10 for the Mac. This year's OS X will again be named after a place in California that "inspires" Apple.

Yosemite OS X 10.10 will become available to developers on Monday followed by a public launch scheduled for this fall. Once again, the upgrade will be free of charge.

Apple is also launching a public beta program for non-developers, doling out passes to eager beavers for beta access throughout the summer.

Screenshot via Apple

Topics: Software, Apple, Operating Systems, PCs, Software Development

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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