Mac OS X Mavericks at WWDC: Everything you need to know!

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 9.17.16 AMNot only did Apple have some huge news for iOS 7 at WWDC, but Tim Cook started out the keynote by focusing on the Mac. Dumping the big cat names (they were running out, unsurprisingly), Apple has instead switched to California locales for the names of OS X releases, starting with Mavericks.

The latest release for Mac OS focuses more on applying a fresh coat of paint and a number of feature improvements, instead of a dramatic overhaul. Much like iOS, we can now say goodbye to skeuomorphism, and welcome in a cleaner and more timeless design that brings OS X up to the design level that it deserves to be at.

Read more about what we saw at WWDC after the break.

Cook began the OS X Mavericks preview with some numbers:

  • Mac is the #1 desktop in the US
  • Mac growth up 100%, while PCs struggle at 18%
  • 35% of users are running the current version of OS X (Mountain Lion). Windows 8 struggling to get 5% adoption

Once Cook left the stage, Craig Federighi – Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering – came up to give us a peek of what Mavericks is about. Federighi told us that a huge focus was on battery life, with smarter CPU management to increase processor idle time. He then jumped into some of the new features we’ll see in the latest release.

Finder Tabs

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 1.23.00 PMYes, Finder finally gets tabs. The interface will be familiar to anyone using a modern browser, and it seems to work well. If you already have multiple Finder windows open, you’ll be able to bring them all in and automatically have separate tabs created for them.

Tabs can have separate views from the other tabs, so you can look at icons, lists, columns, or cover flow independently.

Finder now also goes full screen.

Tags

Finder also gained the ability to tag files. When creating or modifying a file, you can assign a name, location, and now a tag. Tags appear in the sidebar and will sync across your Macs. Documents in iCloud can also be tagged, making them much easier to see outside of an iCloud-enabled app.

Clicking a tag or searching for it will then, obviously, show you all of the files assigned to that tag. Pretty cool.

Multiple Displays

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 1.25.08 PMFederighi made it clear that Apple isn’t actually giving us multiple displays, but is finally making Macs support them. Using multiple displays in the past has been a pain, and Apple’s felt it too. Putting an app in Full Screen mode no longer messes with your other display, instead now letting you run multiple apps in full screen on separate displays. An AirPlay-connected HDTV can now also act as a separate display.

Each display will have its own Menubar, too. Mission Control will bring up an overview of each display separately, allowing you to drag and drop thumbnails to rearrange things to your liking.

Advanced Technologies

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 9.59.21 AMApple is also doing some engineering magic on the backend, making sure that “The most powerful OS X ever is also the most power efficient.”

These technologies include things like “timer coalescing” to group low-level operations together, increasing CPU idle time and saving power by up to 72%.

App Nap will put apps to sleep if you’re not using them. Apple takes a guess as to what you’re actively doing by what’s mostly visible on screen. Bring up Safari over Mail, and Mail gets less power while Safari gets everything it needs. Command-Tab to Mail, and Mavericks quickly reassigns power to Mail.

Safari Power Saver will manage plugin usage for you in a pretty cool way. By default, Safari will not activate plugin elements (like Flash) that are off on the sides of websites, assuming that they are ads. Content in the center will function automatically as expected, and you can always click something off to the sides to see it play if you really want to. This may save up to 35% power.

iTunes HD playback has been made more efficient, supposedly saving up to 35% of your battery while watching movies and TV in HD.

Mavericks will use some new Apple magic to better handle and compress memory. As you begin to use up your available RAM, Mavericks will quickly compress usage from inactive apps to make more available to new apps you launch.

These advanced technologies should lead to an overall 1.4x speed increase over Mountain Lion, and a 1.5x decrease in time waiting when waking your Mac from sleep.

Safari

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 1.34.01 PMBased on Apple’s WebKit open framework and powering over 1.5 billion devices, Safari gets some love from Apple in Mavericks. We’ll see an updated home screen, showing the content you view the most. Bookmarks now uses an interactive sidebar, instead of a Mail-like preview pane for viewing them. You can browse directly from your bookmarks now, keeping them in the sidebar as your websites load in the main right pane. Reading list works much in the same way, but now when you scroll to the end of an article you’ll see the next one load up automatically.

A new Shared Links feature will show you popular links on Twitter and LinkedIn (no Facebook).

There’s also a number of speed improvements coming, making Safari 1.4x faster in JavaScript than other fastest browser. JSBench results show Safari at 3.8x faster than the competition. Memory usage is 0.3x less than the next best browser, using about half of the memory that Firefox does.

iCloud Keychain

icloud_keychain_passwordApple’s 1Password killer. This keychain update copies much of the core functionality of 1Password, notably password generation and syncing between multiple platforms.

It will remember your usernames and passwords and auto fill them on websites for you. Does the same for credit card information, which is awesome. Looking forward to this.

Maps

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 1.43.49 PMFinally. Maps is the same Maps we’ve grown to love or hate on iOS, now in OS X. It looks beautiful and supports 3D mode. Points of interest (through Yelp) are viewable and you can easily get directions to any of them. Once you get directions, easily push them to your iPhone or iPad (awesome), or Messages or Mail to send to someone else. Real-time traffic information also makes the jump.

iBooks

ibooks_ibookstoreThe feature that should have been there since Apple started selling books. I’m surprised this took so long, but it’s finally here. Works pretty much as you’d expect, pulling in all of your iBooks purchases from iOS and syncing your reading locations among all of your devices.

There’s also a great note-taking feature, allowing you to select words or sentences and add notes as you go. iBooks will keep track of your notes and highlights in the Notes Pane, showing you everything in an easy to use list. All of this pushes to all of your devices.

Calendar

calendar_weekGoodbye torn pages and stitching, finally! Calendar has a brand new look and a few new features to go along with it. Continuous scrolling lets you view a range of dates however you’d like, keeping you from having to flip from month to month. Calendar will now automatically suggest addresses and places of interest as you begin typing in the location field, and will show the location on a map including the weather, directions, and traffic conditions.

Notifications

notifications_interactiveCross-platform app notifications. You can stop pulling your iPhone out of your pocket when a notification comes in while you’re working on your Mac. These notifications will now show up on your Mac – where you can dismiss them and have them disappear from all of your devices. It’s a little feature, but a really nice touch.

You can now interact with these notifications, too. If you get a Message, just respond without leaving your current app by typing in the chat box that shows up when you hover over the notification.

Websites can now push information to you, even if Safari isn’t running. Get breaking news from CNN, or sports updates from ESPN right on your Mac.

If you close your Mac or the screen saver comes on your notifications will be waiting for you when you get back – lined up and summarized nicely on the login screen.

Availability

Mavericks was available yesterday to registered Apple Developers, but will release to the general public this fall.