Apple's OS X Mavericks hands-on, in pictures

ZDNet takes OS X Mavericks, Apple's latest desktop and laptop operating system, for a test drive to show you what's new and improved.
By Zack Whittaker on
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Tweaked login screen

OS X Mavericks has a different login screen to differentiate it from older versions of the Mac desktop operating system. It may change in later builds, but for now it is cleaner and simpler, with a "flatter" Apple logo above the usernames.

This slideshow was first published in August 2013. It has been updated and republished on October 22, at its official launch in San Francisco, California, to reflect changes and additions.

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App Nap helps save battery life

App Nap helps to save battery power by "slowing down" applications that are not being used, or hidden by other windows. With Safari, CPU energy can be reduced by almost one-quarter, which helps to conserve battery charge throughout the day. According to Apple, as soon as you start to use it again, the application instantly and seamlessly shifts back to full speed. 

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More iCloud integration

A number of in-built apps are now compatible with iCloud storage, including Automator and AppleScript Editor, suggesting a greater integration of software and services with the desktop platform.

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Apple Maps to the desktop

In spite of its rocky start on its mobile devices, Apple has brought its Maps apps to the desktop. It includes all of the features from the mobile app, such as 3D maps, local information, and driving directions.

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Apple Maps: 3D view

The breathtaking view of featured cities in three-dimensions stands at the forefront of this Maps release. Dubbed "Flyover," it allows users to zoom in and see real-world landmarks from a number of angles in three-dimensions. Think of it as a "street view" from above.

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Apple Maps: Good quality imagery

The 3D imagery is high quality and can be zoomed in to street and building level. Maps is also integrated into a number of built-in applications, such as Contacts and Calendar, enabling an overall richer and better-integrated experience. Third-party apps can also hook into the Maps APIs to take advantage of the new desktop service.

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Apple Maps: Directions

Direction and driving support has been improved. Maps now integrates Yelp reviews and real-time traffic conditions and alternative routes.

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Apple Maps: Directions sent to iPhone, iPad

If you need to take directions with you, they can be sent directly over-the-air to trusted iPhones or iPads. It also shows alternate routes giving users choice on the go.

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Apple Maps: On the go directions

Maps on both iPhones and iPads, and Mac desktops and laptops work seamlessly together, as Apple further "iOS-ifies" its desktop operating system.

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Calendar: No more skeuomorphism!

One of the criticisms of the Mac software was this faux-realistic design aesthetic known as skeuomorphism. In the latest release of OS X Mavericks, these designs and virtual prints have been ripped out and replaced with a 'professional'-looking updated user interface. 

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Calendar: Multiple week, month, year views

Aside from the visual design, one of the new "late to the game" features is a week and month view to give you a greater view over what's coming up when and where.

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Contacts: Simpler, cleaner interface

As with other apps, the Contacts application has skeuomorphic elements removed and now appears simpler and cleaner. 

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Offline dictation to support government, enterprise

Dictation currently requires users to submit their voice samples and submissions to Apple for data crunching in the cloud. This doesn't sit well with businesses and enterprises, which have to consider information security. Users can now download the database, bypassing the need to submit data to Apple.

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Lock screen notification previews

If you step away from your OS X machine for a few moments and lock your device, you will return with a stream of notifications on your lock screen so you can return to them immediately or later. It doesn't disclose the contents of your updates, but gives you an at-a-glance view of what happened while you were away from your screen.

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Tabbed Finder browsing

Finder now includes tabbed browsing, allowing to switch between various folders and views. Tabs can be shuffled around in order by clicking and dragging to rearrange their order.

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Tagging in Finder

Files can be tagged by importance or category, allowing users to jump back instantly to one view of documents that relate to specific events or schedules. 

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Tagging in Finder

Tags are color coded to help differentiate one category from another. A dropdown menu -- the very last item in to the left-hand side of the search bar -- opens a quick access menu for tags. Users can also create their own color-coded tags.

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Additional features in Notification Center

The slide-in notification center, which houses updates and information of what's happened and coming up, now includes a Do Not Disturb feature, first seen in iOS 6. It allows users to switch off all notifications for a set time to help focus on work. Users can also send iMessages to other Mac and iOS device users from the sidebar.

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Notification center previews

Notifications can now be accepted and replied to, or dismissed on the fly as and when they come in. More applications are supported, including websites, which can now let you know if you won an auction item or a change was made to your online order.

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Reply-to in notification toasts

You can even reply to messages and emails from the sidebar by hitting the quick-"Reply" button on notifications, or close them for later reading. 

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Renamed options: Internet Accounts

There are also some minor changes and tweaks to the operating system. "Mail, Contacts & Calendars" has been renamed to "Internet Accounts." It is now designed to bring together your contacts, mail, events, and other data from your various accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, among others, and compliment existing iCloud and OS X data. 

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Internet Accounts: LinkedIn, Exchange 2013

Internet accounts supported now include Exchange 2013 (with updated iconography) and LinkedIn, among other existing services, like Facebook and Twitter.

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Enabling iPhone, iPad device trust

Your Mac machine now requires that a trust relationship be built between your desktop or laptop, and your iOS-powered devices, such as your iPhone or iPad, before it is synced with iTunes or other desktop apps.

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Approving trust on the iPhone, iPad

Once the Mac sends the message, it asks that the iPhone or iPad user accept the "trust" relationship. This method of two-factor authentication requires a device is "paired" to a Mac, and prevents data from synchronizing to the wrong device.

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iCloud Keychain: Mobile two-factor authentication

Now for something interesting: To use iCloud Keychain, the so-called cloud-based password storage and security feature, you are required to build trust between your Mac and iPhone. Approving a Mac as a secure computer to use remembered passwords requires a two-factor authentication with an iPhone or iPad.

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iCloud Keychain: Using mobile to approve password syncing

Using the "send to iPhone" over-the-air option, an iPhone or iPad can approve a Mac to use passwords or not. This has to be performed on as many devices that you want to use your cloud-based passwords with.

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iCloud Keychain: Password support

Among other things, iCloud Keychain allows you to forget the need to enter passwords -- at least on your trusted devices. Using the in-built browser Safari, Mavericks can generate random passwords that are entered automatically and stored in the cloud.

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iCloud Keychain: Remembering card payment details

It works across devices, such as OS X machines and iPhones and iPads. In testing this, you can enter secure credit card data on a mobile phone top-up page and Safari will allow you to "remember" this card. The data will be stored in the cloud, allowing trusted Mac to use that data in future.

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iCloud Keychain: Synchronizing card payment details in the cloud

And when you're back at your Mac and enter your credit card data that was stored by your mobile device, it grabs that data from iCloud.

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Safari: New start screen; top sites

Top sites are now arranged by last viewing and popularity, and can be easily shifted around, pinned, or deleted from the page. It's also cleaner and "flatter" in design, in line with its iOS 7 counterpart.

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Safari: Seamless article reading

Articles saved to the browser's reading list now stream seamlessly one after the other. Once you scroll to the end of one article, the next one loads automatically. 

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Safari: Shared links

Shared Links allow you to keep up to date with new and interesting content from your friends and colleagues, based on what they post on Twitter and LinkedIn, for example. These links appear in your sidebar, but are also available on your iPhone or iPad.

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Safari: Power Saver

Browsing the web can use up considerable amounts of battery life, particularly on clunky and out-of-date plugins that use intensive graphics and processing power, like Flash. Safari's new "power saver" trick holds these plugins and prevents them from running so they don't chip away at your battery. 

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Multiple displays recognized, managed

OS X Mavericks now takes "full advantage" of every display — including Apple TV-connected televisions — allowing users to easily navigate between the two. Each display now comes with its own menu bar and the Dock is available on whichever screen you're working on. Also, with adjusted full-screen capabilities, you can have one app in full-screen mode on one device and work with the desktop on the other.

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Automatic app updates

Much like iOS 7, Apple's mobile platform, users can now set their apps to update and download in the background at their convenience. A notification will appear still informing the user of the update, and giving the option to update the operating system at set times.

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iBooks makes its desktop debut

Apple's ebook platform is now available for the Mac, the latest such port from the iPhone and iPad. With a very similar interface to the iTunes Store and Apple's App Store, the store itself has more than 1.8 million various titles and genres. 

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iBooks in the cloud, takes on Kindle

Apple's bid to plug its latest desktop operating system with its ebooks platform is another slap at Amazon's Kindle. According to Apple, you can take notes, highlight passages, and bookmark a page or a paragraph, and with iCloud's help, it syncs everything across your various devices so you have everything to hand when you need it.

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