Thoughts on OS X Yosemite

I’ve taken much longer to write about OS X Yosemite than any other modern Mac operating system that I can remember. Part of the reason for the delay is that I’m quite taken with the new design and wanted to see if I like it over the long term, but I also think this is one of the most important OS X releases ever.

One of the biggest changes users will notice about OS X Yosemite is its redesigned interface. Honestly, it’s absolutely gorgeous. I’ve loved everything about the new interface from the moment I turned on the computer I picked up from Apple after the WWDC keynote.

In fact, I liked it so much, I’ve been using it as my main machine since the week after WWDC.1 The system font is much easier to read—no, it’s actually a delight to read—so much so that I don’t really like going back to my older MacBook Air with OS X Mavericks.

Yosemite brings a level of crispness and cleanness to OS X that I don’t think has ever existed before. I was a bit worried about the transparencies in the apps themselves, but my worry was misplaced. Color transitions and movements underneath existing apps is done in such a way that it can be noticed, but it’s not distracting when you are focused on getting work done.

I know a lot of people were worried about the so-called “flat design” in Yosemite, and to be honest, so was I. I guess like a lot of people, I’m a bit protective of OS X—it’s like a member of the family and I want to see it treated well, protected even.

If Yosemite is any indication of what’s to come, Apple is treating OS X like royalty. I really do love the design overall, and I’m glad Apple chose to update the operating system like this.2

I feel the same way about Yosemite that I felt when I first saw iOS 7. A bit startled at first, but quickly taken with how clean the interface was. Shortly after, I found it difficult to work in iOS 6 because it was kind of ugly. That’s where I am with OS X Yosemite. I actually don’t like going back to my MacBook Air and Mavericks anymore.

OS X Yosemite continues Apple’s tradition of linking apps and data from its iOS counterpart, giving users a seamless experience between devices. In practical terms, that means that if you take a note, add a reminder, snap a picture or collect data in some other way, that data will be available across all of your devices. That is incredibly important.

It’s important for two reasons. First, Apple is giving users access to all of their data no matter where they are. We all want that, right? We don’t want to manually sync devices in order to get documents or data, it should just happen automatically, and it does. The second reason is that Apple is moving beyond the data and bringing the experience across devices. Also incredibly important.

Familiarity between devices for users can only be a good thing. You want users to be comfortable when moving from one device to another, so when they do change, they are able to pick right back up with what they were doing. And Apple built some of those things right into both operating systems.

I’m not going to talk about many of the upcoming features, because it’s not really fair to review beta software.3 However, there are two features that I want to mention to illustrate the point of iOS and OS X working together in new ways: Handoff and Instant Hotspot.

These are two ridiculously cool features that people will be using all the time:

Hotspot description from Apple:

No Wi‑Fi? No problem. Your Mac can automatically use the personal hotspot on your iPhone when they’re within range of each other.* No setup is required. Your iPhone will automatically appear in the Wi‑Fi menu on your Mac — just select it to turn on your hotspot. Your Mac even displays the signal strength and battery life of your iPhone. And you never have to take your iPhone out of your pocket or bag.


When your Mac and iOS devices are near each other, they can automatically pass whatever you’re doing from one device to another. Say you start writing a report on your Mac, but you want to continue on your iPad as you head to your meeting. Handoff lets you switch over and pick up instantly where you left off. Or maybe you start writing an email on your iPhone, but you want to finish it on your Mac. You can do that, too. Handoff works with Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts. And app developers can easily build Handoff into their apps.

Yes, those are exactly the types of features I want out my mobile and desktop operating systems. I want them to interact with each other when it benefits me, the user. The rest of the time, just sit in the background and wait—be aware, but wait.

Apple is moving the right way with OS X Yosemite. I couldn’t be more behind an OS X update if I was sitting in the company’s headquarters designing this myself. Apple focused on design choices that make sense, and added features that help users get things done.

Seems like a hard combination to beat.

  1. Of course, that was after testing my main apps to make sure they all worked. I don’t recommend people use beta software on their production machines. 

  2. I still think they went too far with Contacts. It’s just too stark. 

  3. I will say, this may be the most stable release of OS X beta I’ve ever used. Still, you can’t review beta software.