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I'm a Maverick
June 12, 2013 - Dave Hecei
On Monday, June 10th, Apple opened its 24th developers conference with a keynote address headed by Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. The WWDC, or World Wide Developers Conference, is where Apple gets together with third-party developers – the people who make hardware and software for Apple products. This year’s WWDC keynote was about two hours long. Apple showed the next iOS (iOS 7), the next OS X (10.9 Mavericks), updated MacBook Air, and previewed the long awaited Mac Pro update.
Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of software engineering, soon took the stage and gave what many called a premiere performance. He quickly got into the main updates to OS X starting with a new naming scheme, based on inspiring locations in California. The first location is one of the best, but very dangerous, places to surf in California. OS X 10.9 is named after the beach called Mavericks.
The current version of OS X, 10.8 Mountain Lion, is technically the ninth version. The whole idea of new names for OS X is that Apple wants to convey the idea of another 10 years of OS X. Federighi took the opportunity to make a good joke about not letting the lack of big cat names delay an OS release.
There are several new features in OS X 10.9, most of which impressed the audience of developers, members of the tech press, and bloggers.
Most of us are used to having Tabs in our browser window. Apple has brought that idea to the Finder (the application that gives you the desktop metaphor with folders and such). Tabs allow the user to have multiple Finder windows open in a single window. Items can be transferred from one tab to another with a drag and hover. There is also a quick command (or gesture) to combine several open Finder windows into one tabbed window. Tabs will not be for everyone, but I feel the power user will gravitate to this feature right away.
This feature is a little bit old and a little bit new. The Finder has had something called Labels since at least System 7. They were something that most everyone never really used. So change the name to Tags, since this is a name that most users now know, either because of iPhoto, Flickr, or Facebook. When you save a file in 10.9, just give it a Tag name that is either already existing or create a whole new Tag name. In the Finder window sidebar, which appears on the far left of the Finder window, there is now a new Tags section. Here you can click on a Tag and all the files associated with that Tag would appear.
Files can have multiple Tags. A document could be tagged as ‘Important’, ‘Financial’, and ‘2013’. It will then appear in each Tag category. It is unclear how many Tags can be created, but it seems that you can easily create more Tags than what can be quickly seen in the sidebar. Too many Tags might even defeat the purpose. It will be interesting to see how popular this feature will be.
With each new OS X we seem to get a newer Safari. This is likely just a ploy from Apple to force, I mean gently nudge, users to upgrade to the next OS. This being said, Safari has been updated for 10.9 with some new features and plenty of under-the-hood improvements that most users don’t even see.
One of the obvious themes of the whole keynote is power conservation. The new OS will help extend battery life in all Apple devices, even more so in any Mac using the new Intel Haswell chipset, which is currently only the new MacBook Airs. Safari is designed to help with power management with background tasks, shared memory resource cache, etc.
The one feature I think users should take notice of is the new iCloud Keychain support. Safari has built-in integration to the new iCloud Keychain. Apple has taken the OS X Keychain, an App where the OS saves all your passwords, and brought it to the 21st century. If you have used services like LastPass or 1Password, then iCloud Keychain will be familiar to you. If not, iCloud Keychain is an App where you can generate large sophisticated passwords, one for each website you belong to. Since these passwords are now a part of your iCloud account, you have access to them from all your Macs and iOS devices you own. Of course the iOS portion of this will require the upcoming iOS 7 due out this fall.
It has been easy to set up multiple monitors, built in or external, on a Mac. They have been able to do this for years. In just the last few years a problem arose. It started with Apple’s implementation of ‘full-screen mode’ for Apps. When a Mac with multiple monitors went to full screen mode, the App would fully take over one screen, but the other screens were then left blank. Call it a feature, call it a bug, or call it poor programming, it doesn’t matter; Apple has fixed this and more in 10.9.
The more is the added power of Airplay. With Airplay, you can use an Apple TV (not sure if only the latest model or ATV 2 and above) connected to an HDTV, projector, or any monitor with HDMI as a display –wirelessly. While using Airplay, other connected displays remain active. This means you can actually use you MacBook’s display while projecting a Keynote presentation using Airplay – something that couldn’t be done before 10.9.
Thankfully, the next OS X doesn’t seem to be gravitating to iOS as much as the last few versions. There are plenty of power-user features and less simplification, which might be nice for those getting there first Mac but not so much for those who have been using Macs for years.
With that said, there are some iOS Apps that have finally made it over to the Mac OS. In the forefront is iBooks. It seems odd that it took Apple this long to get iBooks over to the desktop (or laptop). Now you can read your iBook library on something other than an iOS device. Bravo Apple.
Along with iBooks, OS X now has the Maps App. This includes road maps, satellite maps, 3-D, fly-overs, etc. Once you have mapped something out on your Mac you can then supposedly push this info to your iOS device, which one would assume would have to be running iOS 7.
Calendar, Notifications, and more social networking integration are some of the other new improvements. OS X 10.9 Mavericks is slated to be released sometime this fall. No specific dates have been announced, but October is a likely timeframe.
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