First Look: OS X Mavericks

After Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference ended, Apple supplied me with a 13-inch MacBook Pro and a copy of OS X Mavericks to evaluate and post my thoughts on The Loop. The version of Mavericks I tested was newer than the one released at WWDC, but not as new as the one released on Monday.

I’ve been using Mavericks as my only computer, doing my daily work on the web site, preparing The Loop Magazine for publication, interacting on social networks, listening to music and everything else I would normally do in the run of a day. For me, this was the only way to truly evaluate what the operating system could do.

I have my workflow down to a science now and I don’t really like to deviate from that too much. While this first look isn’t about third-party apps, I did want to note that I have not come across a single app that would just flat out not work under Mavericks. It’s an important consideration when looking at an operating system, so I thought I’d mention it.

Magic dust

Of course, there are some bigger features to look at, but Apple is famous for adding those little details and touches to OS X that make things a little easier for the user. One such detail in Mavericks happens after the install a new application—if you open LaunchPad, the new app has “magic dust” circling it, showing the user that the app has been newly installed and not yet opened. Not a huge feature, but a nice little touch.

The New Features: The Finder

One of the features that excited the crowd at WWDC was the ability to have tabs in the Finder. If you’re used to having multiple Finder windows open on a regular basis, you will really enjoy this feature.

Finder Tabs allow you to have multiple tabs in one Finder window. You can have different views for each tab—one tab can be in icon view, while the other can be in list view sorted by date—depending on your needs.

The tabs aren’t just for looks or for giving you the ability to avoid opening multiple windows, you can do things with the tabs too. For instance, you can copy or move files between tabs by simply dragging a file from the window of one tab to the title bar of another 1.

Another enhancement to the Finder is the addition of tags. Anyone who’s ever worked on a blog knows all about tags—and probably hates them. They sound like a good idea at the time, but they soon become more hassle then they’re worth. This was my thought when I started using Finder tags.

I will admit that Finder tags are a lot more useful than Web site tags. In the Finder I’m looking for a specific piece of information or document that I absolutely need. That makes tagging more important. However, I’ve been using Spotlight search for years and it is so good at searching—even within documents— that I’m not sure I need the extra help of tags to find what I’m looking for. Of course, the one thing Spotlight can’t do is find groups of documents—here, tagging would excel.

iCloud Keychain

If there’s one feature that stood out to me during the WWDC keynote, it was iCloud Keychain. If you’ve ever been on your iPhone or iPad and tried to remember any of the more complicated passwords you have, then you feel my pain.

Like many iOS and Mac users, I own many copies of 1Password. It’s an incredibly good app and it syncs between all of your devices, but it can’t give you access to your passwords from within Safari on iOS. I understand that it’s not their fault, but as a user, that’s the type of functionality I really want.

If I’m going to keep all of my sites and data protected with hard-to-crack passwords, there has to be a convenient way to retrieve them. iCloud Keychain promises to do that.

With iCloud Keychain, passwords you store on your Mac will be synced with the iOS devices you chose. Just like on your Mac, when you go to a Web site on your iOS device, iCloud Keychain will fill in the information for you. In other words, it will be available in Safari on iOS.

iCloud Keychain uses 256-bit AES encryption and the information is always encrypted on your devices.

Notifications

I said when OS X Mountain Lion was released that notifications was one of the my favorite new features. Having notifications popup meant that I didn’t have to waste time looking at my email, chats or Twitter whenever I heard the chime of a new message. All I had to do was look at the notification and keep working if it wasn’t important.

If it was important or it was something I wanted to act on right away, I would go to that app and respond. The new Notifications takes that a step further and makes them even better.

Now, when a notification comes up, I can click on it and reply on the spot. I don’t need to go to the app. This is incredibly convenient and productive. While it does take a couple of seconds to send off a quick response, I never leave the app I’m working in and I don’t lose my concentration.

Calendar

There are a couple of new features in Calendar that users will like a lot.

Continuous Scrolling is the one that I find most useful. My calendaring needs aren’t as extreme as some people that have a lot of meetings lined up everyday, so I tend to take a longer view of things. Having the ability to continuously scroll weeks or even months makes the calendaring tasks I do much easier.

The event inspector in Calendar is new too and includes Maps integration, travel time and address autocomplete. Again with most of my meetings happening over the phone, these features won’t mean a whole lot to me, but I can definitely see how they would be useful.

Maps

Maps looks great. I’ve been having a great time searching for places, but that’s not what will impress you about Maps.

Maps Directions

Maps has a new feature in Mavericks that will allow you to send the address you are searching for to your iOS devices. This is obviously a very smart thing to do.

Maps Statue of Liberty

Like most people, if I’m going somewhere, I’ll search on my computer before I leave, not on my iPhone. With Maps, you can choose to send those directions to your iPhone, so you just have to tap and you’re away. I love that.

Maps Send to iPad

Maps is also integrated throughout Mavericks, so it becomes one of those features that’s everywhere.

Design

While OS X Mavericks looks very similar to Mountain Lion, there have been some design changes.

The changes seem most prominent to me in the Notes, Calendar and Address Book apps. That makes sense because they were arguably the apps that had some of the most skeuomorphic elements in them. Gone is the stitching and ruled paper—it’s replaced with nothing, really.

Calendar

I find Calendar and Address Book a bit too stark for my tastes. It’s like loading a Web site without the CSS—it seems like there was too much taken away. However, I don’t mind Notes. Maybe it’s just the fact that they left some color in there that makes it work for me.

Notes

It will be interesting to see what the finished product looks like.

Integration

The real shining point of Mavericks is the continued integration between OS X and iOS. Whether it’s Maps directions shared to your mobile device or passwords being synced from your iPhone to your Mac, Apple is making their entire ecosystem work for the user.

To be clear, I see this as more of an integration of the user’s information, not the two operating systems. Apple is using the best operating system for mobile and desktop uses, while allowing the user to sync information between the two.

We use Apple products because they make it easy to access our information no matter where we are—on our MacBook, iMac or on the go with an iPhone or iPad. Everything syncs, everything is the same no matter where you are, and that’s important.

Apple’s ecosystem and infrastructure are things that it’s competition are trying desperately to replicate, but haven’t quite been able to do. Apple’s continued integration of information will continue to set it apart moving forward.

Update: I clarified that 1Password couldn’t give you access to passwords within Safari in iOS.


  1. This is one of the reasons I often have many Finder windows open on my Mac. 



  • rattyuk

    Jim, you should add accreditation on the front page, was wondering who the article was by until I clicked through…

    “I have not come across a single app that would just flat out not work under Mavericks.” BTW Logic and plug-ins ok?

    • marv08

      Yes, Logic and plug-ins work fine. Also did not need any new drivers for any audio or video interfaces.

      The only software that does not work for me under 10.9 is Mail.app plug-ins, like MailTags or Mail Act-on. Everything else, even including Adobe and MS software and drivers for multifunction printers (I point these three out, because they are normally those guaranteed to fail), works fine.

      • rattyuk

        Thanks for the heads up, Marv..

    • font9a

      did you try Skype? or Pivotal Tracker? Neither of these work with DP1

      • marv08

        Skype (version 6.5.0.443 here) does work with DP2 (did not try it under DP1).

        • James Hughes

          Good to hear. Skype 6.5.0.433 did not work for me under DP1. I left before the update was done for DP2. I’ll recheck it tomorrow. Thanks

          • James Hughes

            Nope, still not quite right for me. Skype opens but then I have some strange screen problems where I can’t select certain conversations, they become “un selectable”. Which invariably leads to a sort of hang. Of course my setup is somewhat “dirty”. I transferred over my work computer to the drive I am testing just to see how it handled all my current apps etc. Overall though I have to say that being a DP2 it is fairly stable, although I do take a deep breath when I am back in 10.6.8 and ready to get some work done.

    • Skip Nordenholz

      I have found that OmniGraffle Professional has some issue, you can not drag template items into a document.

    • bobrk

      “Jim, you should add accreditation on the front page, was wondering who the article was by until I clicked through…”

      Yes, this is the most annoying thing about this otherwise fantastic site.

    • mdelvecchio

      agree — bylines would be great on the front page. comment counts too, but thats me..

  • Keith

    You can use 1password with Safari via the 1password plug-in.

    • http://www.thegraphicmac.com/ JimD

      I was kind of wondering what he meant by that. Like you, I’ve been using 1Password with Safari for years.

      • http://tewha.net/ Steven Fisher

        I thought it was obvious he meant Safari on iOS, though I agree the wording needs work.

        • Keith

          That makes more sense. As the article itself talks about OS X Mavericks, I thought he was talking about the desktop version of Safari. Agree that using 1password on mobile is a pain.

          • http://tewha.net/ Steven Fisher

            Well, 1Password’s built in browser is pretty good. Aside from needing to unlock it, I’m happy with it.

    • Td

      That doesn’t work with Safari on iOS, which is most likely what Jim is referencing. Switching to/from the 1Password app or using the 1Password app’s browser is a bit of a hassle.

  • Jwcorey

    That sounds awesome and I really enjoyed reading this. You answered a few questions that were nagging me, so thanks.

    I will say, however, that there are many things that are worth putting on the cloud. Your passwords are not one of them. It’s the only feature that had me thinking “No way, no how, not ever.”

    Sorry, Apple. Otherwise, I’m still with the program.

    • http://madebytyler.com/ Tyler Hayes

      How so?

      Passwords have been in the cloud since the dawn of the Internet. You’re already putting all your passwords in the cloud every time you register for a new service. Not all consolidated in one place, sure, but they’re still stored in a database (safely) connected to the Internet.

      • Jwcorey

        There are a few reasons, Tyler… but my main issue is this: Passwords that are entered (for mail, for Twitter, etc) are not stored on the cloud, per se (in the sense that they aren’t available for you everywhere, all the time). They’re stored by the company/site/whatever for which they are used. You don’t, for example, put your password for Facebook with the Twitter people… or store your email password with Linkedin. The iCloud Keychain proposes to put all your passwords in one spot… and that parking place is not on your property (i.e. your computer or in your head). I’m not comfortable with that.

        • http://tewha.net/ Steven Fisher

          I’m fully comfortable with putting passwords in the cloud as long as they’re encrypted. With encryption, the passwords are just an unreadable blob. They might as well be random data.

          However, I’m not confident that Apple’s going to really encrypt these in a way nobody but me can decrypt.

          • John W Baxter

            How many reports have you read about passwords being extracted from locked Mac Keychains? For me, the count of reports I’ve seen is zero.

            On the other hand, lots of Keychain files will be more accessible than ever before.

          • http://tewha.net/ Steven Fisher

            I don’t expect iCloud Keychain to be very closely related to the traditional Keychain, which is a mess.

          • lkalliance

            I don’t think he’s talking about security, but rather the repository for where your passwords are in case you lose track of them, or in case there is an iCloud outage. Is there a local copy, as in keychain?

        • gjgustav

          1password’s file format is open for all to see – it’s 256-bit AES encryption. Good luck decrypting that, even if someone got a hole of it.

          I could be wrong, but I believe Apple uses the same encryption.

          Now, I could understand not wanting to if you don’t know the method used to encrypt the password file, then it becomes a “do you trust the developer’s ability” issue, but with an open format that is known to be secure, I can’t think of a reason not to.

    • GFYantiapplezealots

      How is this different than any other website that has your password?

      • Jwcorey

        On how many websites do you enter all your passwords at once?

  • http://www.thegraphicmac.com/ JimD

    I gotta say, Calendar, Notes, Contacts (and I assume Reminders) look absolutely horrible now. I can see toning down the skeumorphic elements, but this seems extreme. Notes in particular looks like it was thrown together from three different GUIs.

    If the idea is to move toward a flatter GUI (like iOS7 appears to be), then they should get rid of the silver/metal gradation title bars and just go with a flat color, losing all the shadows & bevels along with it.

    Hopefully what we see today is just a ‘placeholder’ for a new look.

    • Lucas Rotondo

      “Hopefully what we see today is just a ‘placeholder’ for a new look.”

      I think that’s exactly it. Apple will not leave iOS and OS X with totally disparate looks, but they couldn’t do both in one year. I’m pretty confident that we’ll see a redesign of OS X next year on par with iOS this year (which may terrify some people but excites me). Ive chose to prioritize the redesigns in this order: iPhone -> iPad -> Mac.

      • http://mykafkaesquelife.blogspot.com/ My Kafkaesque Life

        If they do that, I won’t update anymore beyond Mavericks. I don’t want iOS on my iMac. No way, no how.

  • Lucas Rotondo

    Nothing on iBooks?

    • David VandenHeuvel

      Not released to developers yet :(

  • Joseph Blake

    Why is everyone acting like iCloud Keychain is some new massive innovation? It’s as if .Mac never existed. We’re almost back to feature parity before .Mac/MobileMe was killed.

    • marv08

      You are, of course, not wrong. But .Mac did not really cover phones and tablets, and it is impossible to say with any certainty that the infrastructure and architecture at that time would have been able to cope with such loads (which was, what, maybe 20 million users with an average of 1.2 devices each?). iCloud has to support 500m+ users, a lot of them with two or more devices (8 of them in my case).

      Maybe it is not an innovation, but it sure is great to have.

  • marv08

    Nice review, and I agree with almost all of it.

    I am not that forgiving about the Calendar, Contacts, Notes and Reminders re-designs though. There is no need to rush redesigns, just to be able to pose and proclaim: “look, we did it, all that skinned crap is gone”, when, in reality, the emperor is naked. I fully understand that re-designing iOS and OS X simultaneously in 7 months is about impossible. But keeping things that did work just fine untouched, even if that means living with hand-blown leather for another year, would have been less of a letdown.

    You did not report on my personal favorite in 10.9, so allow me to add that: Multi-display support is freaking awesome. It just rocks. I have two external displays connected to my rMBP plus a projector connected via Apple TV / AirPlay… and everything works exactly as it should. You have a menu bar in each screen, each screen (including the AirPlay one) has its own independent Spaces and fullscreen apps, Mission Control is finally useful (yes, I can move fullscreen apps between screens)… etc ad inf. It is multi-monitor heaven (and makes Windows 7/8 look like a f*cking anachronism). Yay!

    • Nick

      Can anyone tell me whether its possible in mavericks to simultaneously send the same screen on a mac to multiple Apple TV at the same time here’s hoping it can

  • ericdano

    Anyone tried Logic 9 or ProTools 11 with it?

  • Darren Mo

    The iWork apps crash on Mavericks.

    • Darren Mo

      Maybe.

    • http://www.karthikk.net Karthik.K

      It’s been working just fine for me. I did an upgrade from Mountain Lion.

  • Harish

    Jim,

    Is the ability to support maps bookmarks finally supported? I certainly do hope that as this is a beta they are able to add this if it isn’t already supported…

  • http://danl.im/ Daniel Lim

    Awesome preview to what we’ll be getting. Thanks for the heads up!

  • rolphus

    I assume from the number of previews springing up that Apple have relaxed their usual “NDA all the things” approach?

    • Lee Mayne

      After Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference ended, Apple supplied me with a 13-inch MacBook Pro and a copy of OS X Mavericks to evaluate and post my thoughts on The Loop.

      • rolphus

        Yeah, I read that. It’s an interesting shift in policy.

  • Moeskido

    I care less about the removal of simulated textures than I do about the improvement of depicted hierarchy in each app.

  • Daniel Kuney

    Hi Jim, thanks for the great review. A few questions/thoughts:

    1. Will the new Mavericks calendar integrate better with Google Calendar? I can never get Google Calendar to play well with the Mac OS Calendar.

    2. Will maps offer biking & transit directions? If not, the send to iPhone feature isn’t very useful for those of us who live in cities.

    3. Will iCloud Keychain require an unlock password before each web session (like 1Password)? Otherwise it seems like a big security hole.

    4. Speaking of iCloud Keychain, what do you make of Apple’s decision to omit credit card CID numbers from the information Keychain will store? I understand that from a precautionary point of view, but 1Password stores CID information and it’s really useful.

    thanks so much!

  • http://mindmeld.ws/ Les Stroud

    Question: You mentioned the Maps send to feature…does it let you send the directions to your spouses device? Or, is it limited to your own?

    • marv08

      Still trying to figure out what it really does, but for now it seems to be tied to the same iCloud account. But you could still send directions to any receiver using e.g. iMessage,

  • http://mangochut.net/ mangochutney

    Jim, have you by any chance encountered anything that might indicate that Apple has added copy job queueing to 10.9?

    It’s something that bugs me greatly about OS X when copying large multiple large files to or from multiple locations. It’s so slooow.

    Pathfinder and Forklift are a godsend in these situations.

  • frikova

    Will “Respond in Notification” work in third party apps? What first party app are using these features?

  • jaystrab

    Chong: Some magic dust? Cheech: Yeah, magic dust, y’know? He used ta give a little bit to da reindeer, a little bit to Santa Claus, a little bit more for Santa Claus, a little bit more…

  • John C

    Does anyone know in the new iCal app with Mavericks – can you by chance view AND print and entire YEAR calendar view? (would be small I know but I know of someone that needs to do this.) The current iCal allows you to VIEW an entire year, but you can NOT actually PRINT an entire year view. (Other than work arounds such as a screen capture, etc.) Any idea if Mavericks can do this? Thanks!

    • marv08

      Sorry, it can’t.

  • Greg West

    “Now, when a notification comes up, I can click on it and reply on the spot. I don’t need to go to the app.”

    I use this feature on my iPad a lot and love it. So glad it’s coming to Mac.

    Do you think Apple may have a change of heart and name it something other than Mavericks? I know what it represents, but still…

    Excellent review. You give credit where due and cons are warranted.

  • http://pretenseofknowledge.com/ speedmaster

    “Maps has a new feature in Mavericks that will allow you to send the address you are searching for to your iOS devices.”

    That’s really slick, I’ll use that a lot.

  • Funder Benz

    Hello, I use ableton live 9, which is working on mavericks (sometimes crashes).

    There are problems with my native instruments audio komplete 6, the driver installs correctly, but it doesn’t work. I think that the driver is not compatible with the new power management.

    If someone is curious about this new OS…well I suggest to wait, because it’s almost the same as mountain lion.

    Yes, there are new features, but usually a “new os” means…a new os, not a couple of features. I’m really happy with the new power management, the battery lasts longer.. But why don’t release a normal update for this feature??

    C’mon..they are playing with us.

  • Paul T Morrison

    Jim,

    Nice review. You have a shot of maps with you sending the address to your iPad. I can get everything else listed there but how do you get your other appliance to list there? I think I am missing something obvious where iCloud understands what I own but I can’t get that part to integrate.