On Tuesday, October 22, Apple rolled out it’s latest OS X update. The new OS X 10.9 has been named Mavericks after the famous surfing place in California. That’s right! Apple has ditched the cat names, claiming they have run out (sorry bob cat and lynx!), and is now naming its operating system updates after places in its home state of California!
This operating system, free to all Mac users running Snow Leopard or later, offers several new features, two new applications, and several application re-designs. This review will explore some of the features and drawbacks of these new features and application updates. For the most part, this operating system runs smoothly and delivers as promised.
Apple has now included Maps and iBooks to its application line-up! These two applications, previously available only to Apple’s iOS devices are now available for free and are included in the update to Mavericks. For road warriors and users of iBooks author this is good news! While Macs do not offer cellular coverage, users can tether their computer to a mobile device and use cellular data that way to utilize the new Maps application during travel. Maps on Mac could also be useful for those who need to pre-plan trips.
For those who use iBooks Author, iBooks is a fantastic application to have available on the computer. It would be useful for authors to be able to view their own titles within the application itself, and to be able to market their works to others while showing the offering within the iBooks application. For students, a desktop version of iBooks would be useful for referencing textbooks in ebook and epub format. Students can write a paper and have the textbook be only a click away. Some users may be interested to read books for pleasure using this application while taking breaks from work or perhaps during airplane or train travel.
Apple has now redesigned its iWorks applications as well as its Calendar application. For die hard iCal fans, the new Calendar redesign will be a welcome offering. The new Calendar offers similar color coding and grouping seen in the old iCal version offered with OS Tiger. This redesign offers a more simplified experience, although it perhaps has less of a “wow” factor.
Pages, Numbers, and keynote have some redesign as well. Perhaps the most drastic of the three is Pages. The icon has changed from the ink quill and bottle to a little page and pen. This shows exactly what the application is in the icon so new Mac users would have no question about what the application will do. Upon opening the application, a window will open that allows the user to choose whether to store a new or existing document on the drive or in iCloud. For those with lower solid slate storage options, this is a useful feature. Instead of choosing from a drop down box where to send the document to, it has already been decided. This skips a step and allows users to save needed storage on their computer.
New Operating System Features
OS X Mavericks has utilized memory compression technology that allows browsers and other memory intensive applications to use less memory and allow computers to operate at full power while saving battery life. In real world experience, this has been true. The new 13” Macbook Air, which has the longest battery life of all Apple notebook offerings can last 13 hours with moderate usage with Mavericks as opposed to the 12 hour benchmark touted by Apple. For users of Macbook Pros this is great news! Perhaps users would be able to squeeze six or seven hours of battery life between charges, and with real world usage, this is a formidable jump.
Another new feature of Mavericks is the introduction of keychain sync. Keychain is much like the old Mobile Me application, and will use iCloud to sync user names and passwords across all devices. This useful feature will fill in user names and passwords for the user, and offers additional security. This is especially useful for those who utilize many passwords and may not remember what passwords are used for what devices and websites.
Safari has several new features added that allow for smoother webpage synching. Safari now bookmarks shared links from social media sites so that users can brows links without having to search through social media pages. Safari also now syncs to LinkedIn and this will be useful for students and for business men and women. Safari now offers optional continuous scrolling and bookmarks that are viewable on the the homepage. This redesign has a similar feel to Google Chrome although may be a little bit on the clunky side. Which browser to use is really a matter of personal preference.
Mavericks also offers several “in house” features including tabs in the Finder application that allow the user to name groupings of applications and easily drag applications between tabs, and Mavericks now allows users to tag items across the drive and iCloud for easier access later. These features allow for a more simplified user experience.
For those who use additional monitors with their Macs, Mavericks is the OS for you! Mavericks allows users to use the dock menu across all monitors, and allows users to use television sets as fully functioning displays with a dock menu. For those who need to utilize the larger screen space, this is a useful offering and allows again for a more simplified user experience.
Mavericks offers a clean and simplified user experience while keeping the familiarity that makes a Mac, well, a Mac. Users will experience very little learning curve with the added features, and with the exception of Safari, each redesign offers a cleaner interface and user experience. For new Mac users, Mavericks will make the transition from other operating systems a smooth one.
Mavericks provides memory compression, a more powerful performance, and conservation of battery life. The new operating system allows ease of usage with the introduction of keychain synching, Safari links and tabs, and Finder tabs. Mavericks makes full use of the drag and drop experience that Macs are famous for.
The only draw back to this operating system for some may be the redesign of Safari, but for users who make use of Chrome or other browser offerings, this will not be an issue. Safari is quite useful for content consumption, but still does not beat Chrome for content creation. Maybe future Safari offerings will add additional features that will make it more useful for all users.
All in all, Mavericks comes highly recommended and is Apple’s first completely free OS update offering! Some may say that “you get what you pay for” but in this case, many really would pay for this offering, and Apple has done well!