I installed OS X Yosemite last night on a Mac that I don’t rely on so that if things went horribly sideways, I wouldn’t be shut down to recover. I’ve had way too much of that lately. Now keep in mind, I am running a beta. Thus what I am describing can change before it is released in the fall. But I think that I’ll be able to give you a hint of what is to come from Apple.
Look And Feel: If you like the look of iOS 7, you’ll like the look of Yosemite. All of the built in Apple apps have flat looking icons and it’s a safe bet that other software houses will change their icons to match. Controls are flat as well. They’ve also made some subtle changes to how the user interface behaves. For example, the green button that’s part of the red, yellow, and green trio of buttons that control window size and minimization of apps now allows you to bring windows to full-screen. That’s a nice touch. One thing that I wasn’t a fan of was translucent menu bars and apps.
Notification Center: Notification Center is way more useful now as it takes on an iOS feel to it, and you can install widgets to make it more useful.
Safari: Safari’s new found ability to give you a look at all tabs at once, complete with nested grouping of tabs from the same website and snapshots of what was last loaded in each is a huge benefit when you’re working with a lot of them open at once. That alone makes Yosemite worth the price of admission. But they’ve also added native HTML5 for video playback with Netflix and other supported sites. That will save some battery on your MacBook. Plus you can now use DuckDuckGo instead of Google for your search needs without a plugin. Nice!
Spotlight: Spotlight appears as a Google-like search bar across the desktop, and indexes results from Bing, iTunes, Maps, Wikipedia and more. I like that.
Messages: Finally, Messages looks and feels modern. You can name a group thread that has three people or more on it, and you can add new people to the conversation easily.
Mail: Much like Messages, Mail has gotten a much needed makeover. Besides the ability to send and receive large attachments easily, you can annotate messages as well without any extra plugins.
Calendar: Again, Apple borrowed heavily from iOS for the look and feel and Calendar and it works. It also integrates maps and weather into one place which is handy.
AirDrop: Apple has addressed a pet peeve of mine by giving AirDrop the ability to work between Mac and iOS devices. For bonus points they also made it work across multiple versions of the various operating systems as well.
Performance: I really didn’t note any performance gains over Mavericks. But that may change when the product is actually released.
I wasn’t able to test other features such as Handoff as I don’t have a spare iPhone lying around to install a beta of iOS 8. But from what I see so far. I like Yosemite. It makes Mavericks which was released last year look like it was from the 1980’s. Apple users should be prepared to be impressed when it finally ships later this year.