These are uncharted waters
Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference was yesterday, and at the introductory keynote event company CEO Tim Cook alongside a couple of other Apple executives (including a cameo by Dr. Dre) introduced a whole slew of new software goodies ranging from revolutionary to evolutionary. Arguably the real star of the show, however, was the company’s eleventh major OS X release, OS X 10.10 Yosemite (10.0 being the first).
While Apple has been focusing on the little things with no major overhauls on the Mac side of things for quite some time now, OS X Yosemite marks a drastic change for the software that all of the Mac line of computers will be running come this Autumn. Taking more than a few cues from the software’s younger, more portable sibling – iOS 7 – Yosemite definitely falls under the “revolution” side of the aisle while this year’s iOS 8 update fell on the “evolutionary” side.
But is it any good? We’ve got our hands on the OS X 10.10 Yosemite Developer Preview that the company gave to all paying OS X Developers yesterday. Let’s take a look after the break.
The first thing you might notice is the new icon set, seen here on the new dock – now with way less annoying 3D. Apple obviously asked for Jony Ive’s help here as the icons spew the same sort of polarizing style that the icon set on iOS 7 is infamous for; you only need to look at the Safari icon here to know what the deal is going to be. (Editor’s Note: The iTunes icon represented in these screenshots is not representative of the default icon found in OS X Yosemite – sorry about that!)
OS X’s application launcher, Launchpad, remains mostly untouched in the OS X Yosemite Developer Preview – though it does show off all of those gradient-loving new icons in one convenient place. Note that some icons, such as Dashboard, have gotten a little less love than others – no surprise considering Dashboard itself remains effectively untouched, and Apple has introduced a new platform for widgets – Notification Center.
New in both OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, Apple has gone back to the drawing board and totally reconceptualized what a “Widget” is. Apple has added widget support to Notification Center, seen above with a couple of built in system widgets enabled – weather, which appears to be (mostly) nonfunctional at the moment, Reminders, Calendar, and Social. Third party developers are of course able to develop their own widgets to work on both of Apple’s platforms.
But it’s not just the overall UI and UX that has seen an overhaul in Yosemite – Apple has gone back to the drawing board, totally redesigning quite a few of the operating system’s built in applications. Safari, seen above, has gotten arguably the biggest update of the bunch, with a new, minimalistic ribbon that leaves more room for a site’s content.
While Yosemite is all about the design, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t new features to speak of. Apple has built Spotlight right into Safari’s address bar, which now automatically searches for a site most relevant to your search term. For example, in the screenshot above, typing “Diggnation” into the address bar leads Spotlight to the Wikipedia entry for the show.
Speaking of Spotlight, it’s now way more useful in Yosemite than it ever was in Mavericks and prior – it now searches far more things, both on your computer and throughout the internet. One neat example is if you type in a type of food – for example, Mexican Food – Spotlight will now search for the nearest Mexican restaurants nearby. Handy!
While that’s all fine and dandy, it’s hard to talk about the OS X Yosemite Developer Preview without talking about the massive amount of bugs found in the release. This is clearly not a system any sane person will want to be running on their primary driver – so don’t be so keen to upgrade that Mavericks install just yet. In my one short night and morning with Yosemite, I’ve experienced application crashes, design glitches, sluggish animations, totally broken animations, broken first party and third party applications a like – I’m looking at you, Final Cut Pro 7, which has finally kicked the bucket in Yosemite and is now completely broken – and much, much more.
So at the moment, I guess it’s fair to say that the OS X Yosemite Developer Preview is good at really two things, and two things only – being a starting point for developers to build the future of OS X and iOS applications off of – d’uh – and to give an early representation of what the future of the platform will actually look like. For everything else, you’ll have to wait until Apple tidies the release up enough to release the public preview of Yosemite, which Apple says will be coming this summer.