Apple recently seeded the Gold Master beta version of their newest version of Mac OS X, Mavericks. The Gold Master is the “last looks” version of a beta, and since I’ve been running it since early this morning, I thought I’d give everyone a brief rundown of my experience with OS X’s next generation.
First things first: installation. I had just run software updates on my 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro which was running Mountain Lion, and when I kicked off the install it told me that it would take 35 minutes. It took a little less than that, and when it finished I was greeted with a few steps to go through to get back to my desktop. Once there, I didn’t really feel as though I had updated, though to be fair I have my dock as small as possible, hidden on the left and the only two things on my dock are the Finder and Trash, and I use a keystroke to activate Alfred to launch all of my applications, open files and folders, and execute system actions, so the overall look wasn’t life altering. But then I opened the Finder.
There are a few new things that have changed in Mavericks that are readily noticeable, and the most game changing for day-to-day use are changes in the Finder. Those changes come in the form of Tabs and Tags. First thing is Tabs. Many people love to be able to browse the web using tabs in their favorite browser, and now that functionality has made it’s way to file browsing. There’s really not a lot else to say about the way that it works. If you’ve used tab browsing in Safari, Chrome, or Firefox, you’ll pick right up on this.
The second change to the Finder, and the one that I think is the biggest deal for me day-to-day, is Tags. When I went to start writing this, my writing environment of choice gave me the option to name it, choose where to save it, and to tag it. So, let’s say that I choose to tag this file with Free For All’s favorite color (other than black) Orange. Once I’ve done that, and tagged all of the other pieces I write for our favorite source for all things geek, I can open a Finder window and click on the Orange tag and will instantly be shown every file that I have attached that tag to. This can be useful for work and home as well. If I tag all of my work related stuff as “Work” (which is an empty circle with no color, oh Apple, you and your humor) I can quickly see all of it grouped in one place regardless of the type of file it is. This can be super useful for big projects that have mixed media associated with it. All PDF’s, documents, JPG’s, MP3’s, you name it, will all show up with the click of a button. Pretty great.
Another new feature is actually something that we should have had for the last two versions of OS X: full screen applications that don’t make waist of one of your monitors. To be honest, this was the first thing I did once I had upgraded was launch an app and run it full screen on my external 23-inch monitor, enjoying the fact that the built-in 13.3-inch display remained completely available and functional. Like I said, we should have had this for the past two versions of OS X, and I almost feel like Apple should have been too ashamed to show it off alongside other “new” features at WWDC, but at the same time it is a big deal for anyone who runs multiple monitors, especially MacBook owners.
The last of the non-application changes come in under the radar in a more subtle way. “Advanced Technologies” are working for you in the background to make your machine more efficient, both in performance and battery life for MacBook users. Your machine will now perform actions in the background unseen that will help utilize the RAM in your Mac to run as fast as possible.
For those toting MacBooks, you can now click on the battery icon in the menu bar and instantly know which apps, if any, are using “significant energy” allowing you to quickly nip the offenders in the bud. Keep your eye on Google Chrome.
The final notes here are the inclusion of two new apps for the Mac: iBooks and Maps. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about either of these as they are desktop versions of apps that we have had on iOS for years now. I honestly don’t think iBooks is going to get much mileage for most users. If I’m going to read something on a screen, it’s going to be my iPhone or iPad, but that’s just me.
The other application, Maps, is a desktop version of the iOS Maps app. This application will see a lot more time from anyone with kids and in education. Being able to type in Big Ben and be transported to London and view the monument in 3D is pretty great. Sure, you can do basically the same thing with Google Earth, but that requires downloading and installing software, and honestly I like the 3D modeling Apple uses better.
Overall, Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks is a good upgrade for anyone who owns a Mac that is able to run it. There are some other features that I didn’t talk about, like iCloud Keychain, because I haven’t had time to use them, but I’ll get all of those features in on a future post. In my mind, all of the things that I listed above aren’t mind blowing new features, but they are very useful for day-to-day use, and they are definitely worth the $20 Apple will ask in return.