Everything you want to know about OS X Yosemite

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Apple has unveiled the latest version of its Mac operating system, OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Undergoing a full redesign, Yosemite brings Apple’s desktop computers closer than ever to the iOS family of devices.

Here’s a look at everything that’s changing.

OS X Yosemite will let you make and receive phone calls on your Mac.

OS X Yosemite will let you make and receive phone calls on your Mac.

Make and receive phone calls from your Mac

In a revelation (and, thanks to Craig Federighi, joke-filled) keynote presentation, the biggest news about Yosemite is that it will allow a more seamless experience between your Mac and iOs devices — allowing not just instant messages from other Apple devices to show up on your desktop, but also texts and multimedia messages. There’s also the ability to make and receive calls straight from your Mac when your iPhone is in range, meaning that you can leave your iPhone to charge while handling all incoming and outgoing calls from your Mac.

In a moment that recalled Steve Jobs phoning Dr. Dre to talk iTunes back in the day, Federighi phoned Apple’s coolest employee (and hip hop’s first billionaire) to demonstrate the technology in action.

The seamless ability to switch between Mac and iOS continues with Yosemite’s Continuity feature, which will allow users to start off typing a message on their iOS device, before switching to Mac to pick up where they left off — or vice versa. This feature, called Handoff, will also be matched by a similar file-sharing feature, allowing you to easily airdrop files from your iOS device to your Mac, along with the ability to more easily turn your iPhone into an internet hotspot.

“Multi-device hopping is the way most users work nowadays, so we’re looking forward to exploring that for our products,” says Till Schadde, CEO of equinux, the Apple Design Award-winning company behind VPN TrackerMail Designer Pro and Spot Maps.

Visual overhaul

As we thought, OS X 10.10 Yosemite will more closely resemble iOS, with the same translucent flat design now making its way to Mac.

All app icons have been redesigned to fit an iOS 7-style appearance, while the translucency means that app windows change colors based on your background. There is also an added dark mode, which switches the status bar and windows to black for the first time. The green window button also makes windows full screen instead of just increasing their size.

A look at how icons in the Dock appear in OS X Yosemite

A look at how icons in the Dock appear in OS X Yosemite

“The UI refinements in OS X Yosemite bring the lightness and simplicity of iOS to the Mac,” Schadde says. “Mavericks took the first steps to get rid of the old Aqua interface, but Yosemite is a real clean break that introduces a modern, light UI. The light UI elements and windows will look right at home on Retina displays – I think it looks great.”

“I’m really pleased to see OS X get a UI overhaul at last,” agrees Keith Blount, the developer behinds acclaimed writing software Scrivener. “I felt Mavericks had hinted at changes to come, but it looks as though Apple has finally gone through every interface element and unified the look again in a way that we haven’t seen for a while, which is something I was hoping for. I’m excited about the new look – if slightly nervous about working out how to change Scrivener to fit in with it!”

The emphasis on visuals continues part the surface level. A new feature will allow users to more easily add mark up images — perhaps signing a document directly on your Mac, or augmenting a photo with additional annotations. This tool incorporates simple image recognition technology, so that your roughly scrawled arrow will be transformed into a neater pre-made one, while a similar thing allows you to easily add a speech bubble. (As seen below.)

Easily augment emails with illustrations

Easily augment emails with illustrations and magnification features.

Fixed email and iCloud

iCloud and Apple’s Mail app were two of the most complained about features of Mavericks. It seems that Apple has taken both of these on-board when designing Yosemite, as significant time was afforded to both as part of the WWDC presentation.

Mail emphasizes all the things wrong with its previous incarnation — namely reliable syncing and quick jumping between multiple accounts.

Mail emphasizes all the things wrong with its previous incarnation.

iCloud, meanwhile, has been reimagined as the iCloud Drive — a Dropbox-like file system for storing your documents in the cloud. Each app you use with iCloud Drive gets its own folder inside the interface, and you can access this by way of the Finder, with files are synced across OS X, iOS, and even Windows.

“iCloud Drive is a particularly welcome addition,” says Keith Blount. “Scrivener’s bundle file format doesn’t play well with standard iCloud sync, so for syncing with our upcoming iOS version it had looked as though Dropbox was our only option. I’m therefore looking forward to testing out iCloud Drive, because I hope that it will provide a viable syncing alternative for us that wasn’t there before. It also looks promising for allowing users to import data and references from other apps.”

Making Safari a Chrome killer

Last but not least is Apple’s new version of Safari, which features a simpler interface, with features allowing for more straightforward sharing and subscription to RSS feeds. In addition, there’s a neat Mission Control type ability to get a zoomed-out overview of what’s happening in every one of your tabs.

A new feature of the more streamlined Safari lets you see what is happening on every one of your tabs.

A new feature of the more streamlined Safari lets you see what is happening on every one of your tabs.

Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite is set to land for iOS users everywhere this fall. But you don’t have to wait that long if you’re a developer. Visit the link below to download a copy of the beta.

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About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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