Apple flattens OS X, takes a road trip to Yosemite


June 2, 2014

At Apple's WWDC, the company revealed the latest version of its Mac operating system, OS X Yosemite

At Apple's WWDC, the company revealed the latest version of its Mac operating system, OS X Yosemite

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The world may not be flat, but Apple's entire world now is. After last year's iOS 7 brought a flatter and cleaner design aesthetic to Apple's mobile operating system, the just-announced OS X Yosemite completes the transition, bringing Jony Ive's software sensibilities to the Mac's software.

OS X 10.10 continues Apple's naming shift from cats to California landmarks, going with "Yosemite," the world-famous national park that sits in the eastern part of the state. As the 10th full version of OS X, 25th anniversary of WWDC and the 30th anniversary of the first Macintosh, it seems appropriate that Yosemite marks one of the biggest cosmetic overhauls in the Mac operating system's history.

Gone is the classic shelf theme from the OS X dock (complete with shadows and reflections), replaced with a simpler and flatter dock, that's essentially a row of icons inside an elongated bar. Most of those icons got the flat treatment as well. Many OS X apps, like Messages and Maps, are spitting images of their iOS 7 and 8 counterparts.

But Yosemite isn't all about looks. OS X 10.10 also marks one of the most feature-rich updates in years, including the most synchronicity we've ever seen between OS X and iOS. That's led by Handoff. If you have an iPhone or iPad sitting near your Mac, Handoffs makes tasks like email drafts, iWork projects or Safari web pages instantly accessible between devices.

So if you're drafting a paper in Pages on your Mac, a Pages icon will sit on your iPhone's lock screen. Swipe up and the document from your Mac will instantly open in Pages on your iPhone. Conversely, if you're drafting a text message on your phone, a Messages icon will be waiting in your Mac's dock. Tap on it, and finish up your message on your MacBook.

Speaking of messages, OS X Yosemite now automatically syncs calls and SMS between iPhone and Mac. So you can initiate and receive calls or text messages (not just iMessage, but actual SMS to non-iPhone users) right from your OS X desktop. You can highlight any phone number in OS X, and a right-click context menu will give you the option to immediately call it.

Yosemite also has a quick tethering feature that should help make up for the lack of cellular data in MacBooks. If you're on the go without Wi-Fi, just click on the name of your iPhone in the Yosemite menu bar (it will already be waiting there) and a data connection will instantly be set up. No need to mess with the iPhone at all. This obviously won't work with Android or Windows Phones, so it's yet another move by Apple to move you into an iOS-only walled garden.

Another big Yosemite update comes from Spotlight. Apple's system-wide search feature takes a big step forward in the latest version, with a floating search bar that pops up in the middle of your screen (this will look very familiar to users of 3rd-party Mac launchers like Alfred and Quicksilver). Results from not just local apps and documents, but also web sources like Wikipedia will instantly pop up in Spotlight results. For something like a Wikipedia entry, you get a quick summary in the results, but a quick click on it will load the full page. See what Apple is doing here? It's, in some cases, cutting out the Google middleman.

iCloud also takes a big step forward in Yosemite. Up to this point, iCloud left the file system in the background, instead silently syncing each app's documents, without any interaction from the user. Yosemite adds iCloud Drive, which moves Apple's cloud service much closer to rivals like Dropbox, Box and Google Drive. Now you can browse the documents saved for each app (iOS or Mac) straight from Finder. You can also add your own personal documents to iCloud Drive. Everything syncs between OS X, iOS and, yes, even Windows.

Apple's Safari web browser also has a cleaner and simpler interface in Yosemite, with most of the information you need condensed into one toolbar. If you need your favorite sites bar, that now lives just a click away, in the search/URL bar. Spotlight results will also load in the Safari bar.

Mail wasn't left out of the fun, as Apple gave its email app a long overdue visual overhaul (it now looks a lot more like iOS Mail). The company added a lot of punch to Mail's features as well, as you can now annotate photo and PDF attachments straight from a message. There's also a new iCloud-based email attachment-saving feature that lets you upload files (up to 5 GB) that the recipient can download directly from the link. The idea is to kill the problem of attaching large files that your recipient's email server won't receive.

OS X's Notification Center also got a few tweaks in Yosemite. The "Today" view, familiar from iOS, now lives in the Mac's Notification Center, showing things like upcoming Calendar events and even 3rd-party app widgets. You could say the Today view is evolving into Apple's answer to Google Now (though Siri is still notably absent from OS X).

OS X Yosemite will be available for developers later today. Non-developers will have the opportunity to test-drive the update through a beta program, later this (Northern hemisphere) summer. Yosemite's free public release will land this Northern hemisphere fall. You can read more at the source link below.

Source: Apple

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

So far the Swift programming language looks like the coolest feature but I'm kind of surprised to see Apple rather than Google make a push for a new programming language.

Oracle owns the Java language through the purchase of Sun Microsystems and is suing Google for copyright infringement for using it in Android. Google won the right to use it in 2012 but the lawsuit was overturned in May of this year.

Java syntax is fine but I never liked it as a platform. Part of me always hoped Google would have picked up the pieces of Borland Delphi (based on Object Pascal) and ran with it.


Flat? It looks atrocious. And goes against all Steve Jobs believed in for appearance. He would roll over in his grave - and worse is that it's Jony who introduced this....."Et Tu, Brutus" ? Then fall.. OSX"


Swift looks terrible. They started the conference hailing the 13-year-old developer in the audience, and while everyone in the security world grapples with the mistake of writing everything in "low-level" (read: overflow/buffer/etc impossible nightmares everywhere), Apple waste all our time by making yet-another low-level mistake language, complete with mandatory casting, unnecessary datatyping, bitlevel manipulations, and so forth.

It's hard to understand, full of pointless extra work for no reason, still unnecessarily verbose, and puts us all back into the security context of 1980, again.

We need FEWER languages, not more!


This is a huge step backwards for me I am living in a third world country where Internet speeds are very slow. I already have huge problems with an outdated OS and Apps that can't be updated because everything depends on having a good internet connection. The problems get worse all the time. And I can't just order a DVD like before. I recently had to reinstall the OS and the only one I have is on a USB stick. I installed the OS and eventually got all my data back but now I can't use iPhoto and other apps because I have a newer version than the OS so I can't access any of my 5,000 plus pictures until I find a way to get the same OS version I had before. It looks like Yosemite will be completely unusable for me and millions of others in a similar situation. That is if I can install it in the first place. Apple has become a computer and OS only for those with fast internet connections. The rest of have a lot of equipment that is rapidly becoming unusable.


Still think it is miles ahead of the nightmare of Windows8. My whole work place and the workplaces I deal with can not work with windows8 and all the hoops of fire we have to jump through to make things work and happen. We all had to pay and re-install every single workstation with Windows7 64bit. It was expensive yet.. we still all fight over using the MAC systems that are in place. Whine all you want about Apple, we (and there is a lot of We) still work better with Apple since the big boss started buying them. We have to use the PC's as well unfortunately till we make a complete switch over. As for security.. it's all hackable. Proven in the last competition held in Vegas. p.s Not sold on the look but the features are cool


It makes sense for Apple to rationalize all their products into a coherent platform. I like the calling features from my computer, as well as the texting to non-Apple users. Makes me wonder what took them so long to pull it all together.

I agree the flat look is atrocious, and beyond what Jobs had in mind. It actually hurts my eyes. I want smooth design, not flat reality.

Still, instead of these pretty tricks and pulling its platform together, I wish they would tighten up the quality control on their MacBook Air and train their "geniuses" better. Apple's customer care isn't what it used to be, and I don't foresee continuing to buy their products or services until they shape up again.

Nicolas Zart

FLAT is probably required so that Apple can make it easier to shift into a pre-3D vertial world/workspace; then they can add the 3D back as they add their own software updates...

This will also help their iPhone & iPad platforms sync with their vastly more powerful Apple laptops and desktop computers...


I hope they are getting away from the gray font that is hard for many user to read and enable important Apps. like Contacts to display fonts in several sizes instead of having to resort to zooming.


Ive's genius seems limited to 3D shapes. Flat (modern?) is pedestrian at best. Its promoters seem to want to put graphic designers out of work. Any child could design flat UI's and I surmise that that is the real intent behind it.

Anything to get more apps developed. Flat is about marketing, not esthetics and anyone who can't see Job's priorities in that is missing the point.


When I upgraded(?) to Mavericks it behaved so non-Apple, I replaced the hard drive in my MacBook Pro. I reinstalled Mountain Lion on a bigger, faster Hybrid HD and put the Mavericks contaminated one in a drawer.

I guess I will dig out the toxic Mavericks hard drive, this Northern hemisphere Fall, and upgrade it to Yosemite. Afterward, I can always put it back in the drawer and happily return to using this superbly designed and elegant performing Apple product called OS-X Mountain Lion.


Instead of going after Google, I'd like to see more focus on Yosemite becoming replacing Windows as the defacto OS. To me, Apple is a product and interface company, not a data and service company.

"Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services" - Patrick Gibson (I think).

Justin Lawrence

Yeah! All Right! We came all the way from two dimensional graphics in the 80s when we sweated and slaved to try to make cool looking 3D on computer screens, and now in the hi-tech year of 2014 we get...

two dimensional graphics.

I hate the way Apple is becoming more and more Micro(brain)soft-like. They keep adding annoying, useless steps (it now takes two clicks to auto fill forms in Safari vs. the one click it always took), they keep taking out essentials (like Save as... in Pages and other menus), and they have thrown innovative design (like the old flower-pot flat panel G4s and the colored G3s) out the window.

QUIT mimicking aspects of Windoze! Steve would be very, very upset. The creativity is dying!

Why is Siri not standard on desktops? This is something we want.

I still am shaking my head - two dimensional - what a sad, sad, joke.


@Justin I'm not sure OSX will ever replace windows as a defacto OS because Apple doesn't seem to care much about OS market share.

An example of what I mean is desktops are still about 50% of PC sales but as a percentage us users its probably higher. Currently Apple sells no direct competitor to the standard desktop/tower PC.

The only OSX based direct competitor to the standard desktop PC is the hackintosh and there is absolutely no way that's by accident. Apple didn't become a ~600 billion dollar company by not noticing they don't offer a competing product for over 50% of the PC market.

Considering it would be trivial to offer a non-Pro version of the Mac for $1,500 - 2,000 and make a profit on them the only logical conclusion is that they do not want the desktop PC user base on their platform.

Maybe they figure that subset of users writes too much malware and too frequently pirates software to be worth the money made selling them hardware? Whatever their reason it seems clear Apple has no interest in having OSX be as mainstream as Windows.


Welcome to 1995. The flat 2-D look is hideous. Hopefully, if there's enough negative feedback they'll change this before September.

Ken Dawson

The FLAT look is going to get a little time from me before I decide whether or not it is "hideous".

Sometimes, against all odds, things will grow on me and I decide hey I like this.

I'm more interested in the features it offers.

That is unless my movies wind up looking flat when I watch them on a Mac!

Dr. Veritas

What is this concentration on the look of things? I don't get it. I'd be much happier if Apple would use its considerable engineering powers to improve usability and enforce consistency.

Mac McDougal

The FLAT look is outright insulting. it looks like the "Kicker" panel from KDE 3.5 . The whole aesthetic look is not only a step backwards, it's SEVERAL steps backwards. I sincerely hope that Yosemite WON'T be the Windows 8 of the Macintosh ecosystem. Us computer using folk don't WANT phone icons or a phone based UI on our laptop or desktop. We like the slick and polished 3D that we have with Mavericks. I hope Apple will listen to their users and change this before the final release. if they don't, you can bet there will be a plethora of 3rd-party software shortly after the release that will replace the mistakes Apple made aesthetically with the look and feel of Mavericks. Right now I see no reason at all to upgrade. I have a rooted Android phone running a custom ROM that tethers just fine, so I don't need the built in tethering. I don't use iCloud (I believe in local storage, call me paranoid or old fashioned) so I could care less about that integration. You''d think after the backlash form Windows 8 that Apple would have learned that computer users HATE phone interfaces on their computers. Hopefully Yosemite will get more and more polished with each incremental beta build. if not, I'll just stick to Mavericks.

Jason Harland

Yosemite isn't a new name to Apple,it was a code word given to a version of the blue/white G3 PowerPc towers.

Robert Meurant
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