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OS X Yosemite review

Andy Vandervell

By

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Apple OS X Yosemite
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Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Attractive new interface
  • Superb integration with iOS 8
  • Improved Spotlight search
  • Pain-free installation

Cons

  • Some won’t like transparency effects

Originally reviewed on 17 October 2014

What is OS X Yosemite?

OS X Yosemite aims to tie Macs, iPhones and iPads, like one big happy Apple family. The Cupertino-based company has had many of the ingredients in recent years, but OS X Yosemite completes the recipe and gives it a darn thorough cooking. Missing elements, such as AirDrop support across iOS 8 devices and Macs, have been introduced, as well as numerous new features – many of which we've also covered in our iOS 8 review.

Indeed, with added functionality such as the ability to make and take calls from your iPhone from your Mac, and the addition of iCloud Drive, this is a larger update than last year’s Mavericks. And remember, Yosemite is free.

But despite all that, the thing most people will notice is how it looks.

SEE ALSO: OS X Yosemite tips and tricks

OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite – The New Look

We assume Apple simply ran out of time with Yosemite’s predecessor, Mavericks. While iOS 7 introduced a refreshingly new, Ive-inspired look, Mavericks was more of a tinker under the bonnet – an oil change rather than a full service. Yosemite catches up and the lineage is obvious. It adopts the same ‘flatter’ appearance, simplifies and adds generous lashings of transparency.

The effect varies from app to app, but the basic idea is OS X Yosemite takes the colour of your desktop background (or webpage in Safari) and reflects that within the window you’re viewing. It’s not transparent in a ‘see-through’ way; it takes the colour and makes it diffuse – the nearest real-world reference is that it's like looking through frosted glass. This kind of change inevitably raises concerns about usability, but they’re largely unfounded. We’ve had no problems with unclear actions or interface elements arising from this.

The transparency effects and a change in font, the same one as in iOS 8, give OS X Yosemite a much-needed freshness. It’s also brighter. Yosemite adopts a similar colour palette to that introduced in iOS 7 – a fact reflected in app icons and even folders.

We also like the many ways Yosemite tightens things up and uses space more efficiently. The best example is how many title bars (not all) are now removed. The traffic-light buttons – the three ones in the top left of every window – are still there, but they sit along proper interface elements, making use of space previously wasted. This means, for example, that the address bar in Safari is now on the same level as the traffic light buttons. It gives you a little more space and it looks cleaner and neater.

OS X Yosemite

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OS X Yosemite – From iOS with Love

It’s not just the interface that has a strong iOS influence; many features are lifted wholesale from iOS. The best example is the Notifications Center. which looks, feels and works just as it does in iOS 8. This includes support for third-party extensions and widgets, plus the ability to replace and remove the default ones with those of your choosing. Third-party support is patchy at present, but it’s bound to pick up – it already has on iOS 8. There’s still no ‘clear all’ option notifications, though.

Yosemite also picks up the third-party extensions support added to iOS 8. Third-party extensions work across the whole OS and fall into four categories: Actions (edit or view content in another), Finder (integrate with Spotlight search), Share Menu (share with other apps) and Today (widgets). They’re a useful addition, though we haven’t seen many examples yet – developers are only now starting to roll out Yosemite updates. Yosemite also adds Family Sharing, which makes it easier for parents to manage family accounts and share purchases, and iCloud Drive.

OS X Yosemite

iCloud Drive is a belated admission that Apple’s previous iCloud system was too restrictive, even by Apple's standards. Instead of files being cocooned within individual apps, iCloud Drive organises them into folders in much the same way Dropbox does. By default iCloud Drive apps have their own folders, but you can access them and open the files in any compatible app.

Other iOS inspirations are subtle, such as the way the address bar in Safari hides the full URL until it's selected, in favour of the domain or – in the case of verified websites – the name. These kind of changes might upset purists, but there’s sense in them. Hiding the URL makes it harder for phishing sites to ‘spoof’ domain names, as they can’t hide the real domain with overly long and complex URLs.

OS X Yosemite

The final iOS-like flourish is a significant upgrade to Spotlight. Just as in iOS 8, it pulls in search information from numerous other sources (Maps, Wikipedia, iTunes, Bing etc.), but it’s also gained a new, larger preview window. The new window gives you previews of the results and organises your search results by category (i.e. Bing results and files on the Mac are separated) and it puts what it thinks is the most relevant result at the top. It’s a useful improvement and, just like iOS, it’s integrated into the search bar in Safari, too.

Paul W

October 18, 2014, 1:07 am

Good review but last paragraph - "That could all change with Windows 9..."

Prem Desai

October 18, 2014, 3:37 pm

Looks good but I'll probably wait a while longer before upgrading.

I do not wish to be involved in Apple's beta testing cycle.

Paul

October 18, 2014, 6:59 pm

its sweet i like it

view2share

October 20, 2014, 5:42 am

To change transparency go into System Preferences then Accessibility, the choose Reduce Transparency. I like it that way. I like Yo.

view2share

October 20, 2014, 5:42 am

I have yet to find a bug.

view2share

October 20, 2014, 5:49 am

I got played with it a bit. Sort of like Win8.2 -- it worked -- not too buggy at all for a preview -- seemed like using Win8.2 final. I am more impressed with Yo. The machine I had Win10 on now has Mint Linux -- pretty solid -- Linux just doesn't have much in the way of slick apps - actually adding Chrome browser and its apps / ext. makes for a best experience overall -- but then again, I also have a Chromebook. The Chrome OS, seems cleaner and easier on the eyes than Win10 sort of awkwardness. Alas, Windows is such a good base to run real software programs, old software, and be able to scale up the fonts -- it has its points of goodness. Most classy however goes to Yo. Oh, I mean Yosemite OS X, I call Yo.

Jaroslav Houdek

October 20, 2014, 10:52 am

I still regret installing the Maverick. No way I'm installing this.

Prem Desai

October 20, 2014, 12:22 pm

Glad that you haven't.

Do you actually use it though?

Point is, there is no OS on this planet that doesn't have bugs at release time. In any software release, bugs are categorised according to impact (critical, high, medium, low or whatever). Apple have proven time and again that they release software with critical/major issues (they probably call them medium impact).

Making my point again, this release looks awesome, but I'll wait until the major bugs are ironed out.

Paul W

October 20, 2014, 7:08 pm

Remember, Yosemite had a public beta which I can't recall other versions of OS X having, so it may be more stable at launch.

Paul W

October 21, 2014, 4:28 pm

Yep, I get the feeling that a lot of Windows users are looking forward to version 10, especially those who have held off upgrading to 8.

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