It looks like it won’t be called OS X 10.9, nor is it named after a big cat, but Apple unveiled a preview of the future of OS X on Monday – OS X Mavericks, the 10th major release of Apple’s UNIX based desktop operating system. With more than 200 new features, many of them crossing over from Apple’s mobile iOS, OS X Mavericks brings Maps and iBooks to the Mac, introduces Finder Tags and Tabs, enhances multi-display support for power users, delivers new core technologies for greater power efficiency and performance, and includes a revamped Safari Web browser. The preview release of OS X Mavericks is available to Mac Developer Program members now. Mac users will be able to download Mavericks from the Mac App Store this fall.
“The Mac has consistently outpaced the PC industry and OS X continues to be the most innovative and easy to use operating system in the world,” said Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi observes. “OS X Mavericks is our best version yet and features new Maps and iBooks apps, Finder Tags and Tabs, enhanced multi-display support, performance and energy saving features, and an all new Safari.”
The new Maps feature brings mapping technologies from iOS to the Mac, including vector graphics, 3D view and interactive Flyover!. With Maps you can plan a trip from your Mac, then send it to your iPhone for voice navigation on the road. Maps integration throughout Mavericks gives users helpful maps from within Mail, Contacts and Calendar, and developers can integrate the same powerful mapping features into their apps through the Map Kit API. With iBooks you have instant access to your existing iBooks library, as well as the more than 1.8 million titles in the iBooks Store, from textbooks and classics to the latest best sellers. iBooks also works seamlessly across your devices, so you can read a book on your Mac, make notes or highlights, and pick up exactly where you left off on your iPad.
OS X Mavericks introduces new power user features like Tags – a powerful new way to organize and find your files anywhere on your Mac or in iCloud. You can easily tag any file in the Finder, in iCloud, or when saving a new document. Tags appear in the Finder Sidebar to enable you to view files by project or category. Finder Tabs reduce the clutter on your desktop by consolidating multiple Finder windows into one window with multiple tabs. You can customize the view for each tab, move files between tabs, and even run the Finder with multiple tabs open in full-screen. However, if Apple really wanted to accommodate power users, they would include built-in Dropbox integration in Mavericks, since Dropbox is the Cloud service of choice for most serious users.
Mavericks makes using multiple displays even easier and more powerful, with the menu bar and dock available on any display, making it easy for users to run windowed or full-screen apps on whichever display they choose, with no configuration required. Mavericks also lets you use your HDTV as a second display using Apple TV and AirPlay.
New core technologies in OS X Mavericks are claimed to improve the energy efficiency and responsiveness of your Mac. Timer Coalescing intelligently groups together low-level operations so that the CPU can spend more time in a low-power state, saving energy without affecting performance or responsiveness. App Nap reduces the power consumed by apps that you re not currently using but want to keep at “hot idle.” Compressed Memory technology helps keep your Mac fast and responsive. When your system’s memory begins to fill up, Compressed Memory automatically compresses inactive data. When these items are needed again, Mavericks instantly uncompresses them.
Additional features in OS X Mavericks include:
* iCloud Keychain, which safely stores your website login information, credit card numbers and Wi-Fi passwords, and pushes them to all of your devices so you don t need to remember them. Information is always protected with AES-256 encryption when it s stored on your Mac and when it s pushed to your devices;
* an updated Calendar, which adds integration with Maps, continuous scrolling so you can zip through weeks or months, and a new Inspector to simplify event creation and editing;
* interactive Notifications, allowing you to reply to a message, respond to a FaceTime call or even delete an email without leaving the app you re using. Websites can now use notifications to keep you up to date on the latest news, scores and other information. While You Were Away Notifications make sure you see what happened while your Mac was asleep; and
* Xcode 5, with powerful, intuitive new tools for developers that measure every aspect of app performance and energy use, as well as app testing.
I’m delighted that Apple is not letting OS X wither on the vince, as it were, with all the focus these days on the iOS and mobile computing. We’ll have to wait for hands-on, or at least Developer leaks, to get a clearer bead on how substantive Mavericks’ improvements will prove to be in use. Unlike the iOS, OS X in its current Mountain Lion status doesn’t really cry out for impovement — various annoyances and angularities notwithstanding. I’m not especially smitten with even more of the iOS feature set crossing over, so I don’t find some of the Mavericks changes especially compelling. However, the touted under-the-hood performance upgrades will certainly be welcome.
Apple has said nothing about pricing, but hopefully Apple will stick with the $29.99 or $19.99 price points of the previous two OS X upgrades.
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