With OS X Mavericks, Apple showed it still had tricks up its sleeve regarding desktop operating systems. Long-time apps like Finder got welcome upgrades and rubbed shoulders with newcomers from iOS, such as iBooks and Maps.
Multiple display support was given an overhaul, and iCloud Keychain made its debut, to help Mac and iOS users keep regularly used online details safe.
There were big improvements to battery life and app efficiency, and to ensure everyone with a supported Mac could upgrade with a minimum of fuss, Apple scrapped price tags entirely, making Mavericks the first free major OS X update.
But what happens next? When will the successor to Mavericks appear, and what will it offer? What will it be called, and what will it look like once Jony Ive’s got his claws in deep? As ever, Apple is keeping quiet, but we’ve made some educated guesses about what’s to come in OS X 10.10…
OS X 10.10 name and brand
Yes, OS X 10.10 − which is the version number that’s already been found in analytics − not OS X 11.0. Version numbers don’t need to jump from something-point-nine to something-point-zero. 10.10 is simply the tenth 10.x update and not the same as 10.1. Also, anyone clamouring for OS X.1 should probably be mindful that 1) OS X is now the product name, not a version number, and 2) Tim Cook would sooner make the next iPhone out of dead bees than use such a foul combination of characters.
In recent years, numbers have counted for little anyway − we’ve come to know OS X by its codenames. Previously, these were big cats, but Mavericks showcased a switch to Californian locations, which is set to continue. The internal codename is Syrah, a dark-skinned grape/red wine, but that’s going to change before the public release. The unknown is which location is going to be used.
Mavericks is a surf spot but the word has a dual meaning, positioning Apple as unorthodox. Apple’s chosen name for OS X 10.10 will doubtless attempt to highlight individuality once more, or some other important aspect of OS X. We just hope we won’t see OS X Alcatraz: the most locked-down OS X ever. OS X Death Valley is probably one to avoid, too.
OS X 10.10 price and release date
Mavericks was free, and so it stands to reason that OS X 10.10 and all subsequent releases of OS X will be too. This makes a lot of sense, because Apple is primarily a hardware company (and a very profitable one), and so it can afford to give away its operating systems, unlike Microsoft, which makes a huge amount of money from licensing and direct sales of Windows. Expect OS X 10.10 to again be a digital-only update via the Mac App Store.
As for when OS X 10.10 will appear, Lion saw OS X move to an annual release cycle, although this slipped a little with Mavericks, reportedly so Apple engineers could get iOS 7 ready in time for the release of the iPhone 5s. It wouldn’t surprise us to see this as the actual plan this year: an announcement at WWDC and then a final release in ‘fall 2014’, which will probably mean October.
An iOS 7-like interface for OS X 10.10?
The radical visual overhaul of iOS has made quite a few people assume OS X will have a similar design language as of OS X 10.10, and the rumour mill is already buzzing about Apple experimenting accordingly. However, OS X Mavericks showcased subtler changes, ditching UI chrome from the likes of Calendar, resulting in a more uniform OS, but still a familiar one.
From a system standpoint, we expect to see further refinement. Jony Ive is obsessed with getting UI out of the way, so content can shine, but if every window behaved as iBooks does, removing chrome entirely until it’s needed, we suspect Mac users would go nuts. Still, less extreme changes could work nicely on the desktop: flatter, simpler icons; the re-emergence of some colour in an OS that’s become depressingly monochrome; and an emphasis on subtle depth, layering and transparency.
New OS X 10.10 apps and features
In recent versions of OS X, several iOS apps have made their way to the Mac. Reminders and Notes mirrored their iOS equivalents, making it easier for people to switch between Apple’s platforms. With Maps, users could finally work with Apple’s maps solution on the desktop and send directions to mobile devices. And then iBooks arrived, primarily, we imagine, because it was simply too absurd that you could buy a book in Apple’s bookstore and not read it on your Mac.
Of the remaining iOS-only apps, Newsstand would be the most obvious OS X candidate, magazine subscriptions joining books. We can also see a place for Weather − although, surprisingly, even the iPad doesn’t yet have an Apple weather app. Smaller features might also make their way across: an optional PIN-style passcode lock; Control Center (replacing or augmenting existing menu bar extras); notification tabs for ‘today’, ‘all’ and ‘missed’, and a Notification Center that’s an overlay rather than intrusively pushing everything else off-screen.
More iCloud in OS X 10.10
The OS X ‘Internet Accounts’ pane in System Preferences is getting crowded, with various email services, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, AOL, Vimeo, and Flickr. Expect new additions, but also for Apple to increasingly push iCloud. OS X defaults to saving in iCloud, and we’re likely to see more developers encouraged to integrate it more heavily within their apps.
We could see iCloud becoming more fleshed-out regarding working across multiple platforms and apps, using OS X tagging to automatically build projects, and introducing collaboration features. Additionally, it would be sensible for Apple to rework Time Machine so you can back-up your Mac to (and restore it from) the cloud.
This would, though, require a radical rethink in Cupertino regarding the miserly 5GB of space Apple offers for free (and the laughable 50GB maximum), but if Yahoo can offer 1TB of space for free, there’s no reason Apple can’t follow suit − and never having to worry about your data’s safety again, no matter how much Apple kit you own, would be a great differentiator for the company and a huge new feature for OS X.
We also expect further changes to OS X’s core, with speed and stability improvements to fully take advantage of the Mac Pro’s power, while also ensuring the system remains energy-conscious for the next generation of Apple notebooks.
OS X 10.10 and Siri
When it comes to interacting with your computer, the mouse/pointer paradigm is deeply ingrained, but it’s been shaken up by touchscreens, hence Apple’s move to gestural input in OS X via the trackpad (and competitors working on hybrid devices). As smartphones have shown, voice can also be a great way of interacting with any device − as long as the system is smart enough.
No doubt some will argue there’s no place for voice on OS X, because your Mac isn’t something you want to talk to in order to get a job done, but OS X’s accessibility settings already offer voice-oriented features. These include the means to read text aloud or define speakable workflows. There’s no reason this can’t be part of the default experience, not least for quick tasks that are otherwise cumbersome to deal with, such as entering calendar appointments or performing tedious maintenance.
Imagine an OS X Siri that could offer to automate tidying. "Siri, tidy my Desktop." "OK. Do you want me to add all downloaded music to iTunes, photos to iPhoto, and documents to your Documents folder." "Sure." "And would you like me to do this automatically in future, so you can spend more time being ‘productive’, searching the web for LOLcats?"
On second thoughts…
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