As expected, Apple today announced the next version of the OS X operating system at its WWDC developer conference. It includes the much-rumored flatter look that many expected after Jony Ive took over the responsibility for the look-and-feel of OS X, as well as a wide range of new features.
With this new design, OS X — which has an install base of about 80 million, including about 40 million on the latest release — now looks a bit more like iOS 7, but there is still quite a bit of depth. Indeed, more than flat, the design almost seems to focus more on translucency than anything else.
The update will be available to developers today, and everyone else will get it for free in the fall. For the first time ever, Apple is also launching a public beta program with this release. Users who are interested in participating in this will be able to sign up and test the new version over the course of the summer.
The first thing users will likely notice when they open the new OS X is the dock. Apple has done away with the faux-3D shelf look here and has put the icons on a simple translucent background instead.
The update isn’t just about looks, though; Apple also added a large number of new features. The Notification Center, for example, now features an iOS-like Today view, in addition to more interactive notifications from third-party apps. Spotlight in OS X is also getting a bunch of new features and is now universal, meaning it includes the ability to search for people, mails, events and more.
For users who don’t like all the white space, Apple is also adding a dark mode. Sidebar apps will get a new look, too.
With this update, AirDrop now finally works between iOS and the Mac, but for Apple, this is just one example of what it likes to call “continuity.” Going forward, your Mac will know more about what you are doing on your iPhone, so that when you start an email on your iPhone, Mail on the Mac will also know about it and allow you to finish the message on your laptop.
The other cool new continuity feature here is the ability to essentially pair a Mac to an iPhone. This means your SMS messages will now appear on your Mac, but more importantly, you can now dial out from your Mac using your phone.
The other major new feature in Yosemite is the addition of iCloud Drive, a new cloud-storage service from Apple for OS X, iOS, Windows and the web. This puts Apple into direct competition with the likes of Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive.
While the look has definitely changed, many of the basics still remain the same: The menu bar will remain at the top of the screen, for example, and the Apple icon continues to grace the top-left corner of the screen. The Finder and the dock also seem to have remained fundamentally unchanged, even though their respective looks are a bit different.
Virtually every other OS X application from Apple are getting updates. Mail, for example, now includes more features for designing your emails, as well as some built-in image-editing features.