Ten things you need to know about OS X Yosemite

Yosemite (pronounced yo-SE-mea-tea) is one of the natural treasures of California in the United States. It is a magnificent park which covers more than 3,000 sq km, or greater than four times the size of Singapore.

It is also, now, the name of Apple's newest operating system, OS X Yosemite.

Less well known is its meaning and therein may lie a clue to why Apple picked that name.

Yosemite, according to an online history source, means "those who kill", and refers to the Native American people who lived in the Yosemite Valley thousands of years ago. They were much feared by the surrounding peoples, who gave them this name.

So there you go, OS X Yosemite - the killer operating system.

DL looks at 10 aspects of the new OS, free as always, which Apple will release in the fall.

1. New font

This is the first change of the system font since the inception of the initial OS X. Helvetica Neue will replace the Lucia Grande font.

If you use iOS 7, the new font will look familiar. It is the font used in iOS 7 and iOS 8.

2. Flatter, translucent look

Apple design honcho Jony Ive loves to flatten everything.

The overall look of OS X Yosemite is flatter and more translucent.

The look of the Dock reminds one of iOS 7 and iOS 8. Translucent effects on the Finder let you see a little of the wallpaper.

Application icons, such as Finder, are flatter, with thinner and sharper features.

3. Improved Notification Centre

Unimpressed with the Notification Centre which contains only your latest e-mail messages? OS X Yosemite lets you customise the Notification Centre, where you can add or remove widgets, such as Weather, Stocks, World Clock and Calculator.

Hopefully, Apple will allow third-party widgets to be installed.

4. Better Spotlight

I wonder if Alfred is going to sue Apple. Who's Alfred? It (not he) is an OS X third-party application which speeds up searches. This sounds a lot like the new Spotlight.

When you type a query in Spotlight, it will move the menu bar from the top-right corner to the centre of the screen. It offers predictive typing with local and online searches from Wikipedia, Maps and Bing.

You can also start an app from Spotlight just by typing the first few letters of an app. For example, when you type "iA" and it brings up "iA Writer", just tap Enter to start the application.

5. AirDrop and Handoff

Until Apple introduced AirDrop, the company's easy but proprietary way of sharing files wirelessly worked only between iOS devices or between Mac computers.

In OS X Yosemite, you will be able to share photos, videos and other files between an iOS 8 device and a Mac computer.

To this, Apple adds Handoff, a proximity feature which allows devices on both platforms to be recognised and detected. So, for example, if you are typing an iMessage on your iPhone and walk near your iMac, your iMac will prompt you to continue writing your iMessage on the computer.

6. Flatter, faster Safari

Like everything in OS X Yosemite, the design has been flattened, so there is only a top menu bar and the webpage you are browsing.

Yes, you can have your Favourites bar also, but Apple says you do not need it any more.

Once you type something on the URL bar, the improved Spotlight will search everything or auto-complete the URL.

The new Safari is supposed to load JavaScript at least six times faster than Chrome and Firefox.

Its tab energy efficiency is supposed to be up to 9.6 times faster than Chrome. In other words, you can zoom across webpages.

7. Draw in Mail

The Markup feature in OS X Yosemite's Mail lets you draw, sketch or doodle on e-mail messages. If you are in the advertising business, your clients could doodle endlessly on your genius campaign drafts and bounce them back in double-quick time.

It offers you the ability to sign on a PDF attachment.

Salespeople will be able to draft contracts on the go, have clients sign them to seal the deal and send the paperwork back to headquarters pronto.

8. Call with Messages

Being able to send iMessages via the Messages application on your Mac has been around for a while.

However, now, you can make and receive iPhone calls on your Mac.

So, if you are working on your Mac and your iPhone rings, you can answer the call on your computer.

9. Crossplatform iCloud Drive

Better late than never. The iCloud Drive is long overdue.

It is similar to Dropbox's cloud storage, but better integrated into the iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite ecosystem.

It also supports Windows. However, it could take a long time before there is support for Android.

iCloud Drive is priced at US 99 cents (S$1.24) for 20GB per month, and US$3.99 for 200GB a month.

It is free of charge if you can restrict your cloud storage to 5GB.

10. Instant Hotspot

Loathe to set up that cranky Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection on your iPhone to create an Internet hot spot for your computer?

If your Mac is loaded with OS X Yosemite and is near your iPhone operating on iOS 8, the computer's Wi-Fi menu will detect the iPhone.

Just select your iPhone from the menu and your Mac will be connected to the Internet.

This article was first published online on June 13, 2014.

This article was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life on June 11, 2014.

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