Mavericks, the latest incarnation of Apple’s operating system for the Mac, will be released today.
Announced by Apple’s CEO Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, Mavericks features a pair of new apps (iBooks and Maps), iCloud Keychain, a tweaked UI and more.
Mavericks will be available for download from the Mac App Store on today for free. Currently, any Mac capable of running Mountain Lion will be able to run the OS, providing it has sufficient storage space and enough RAM.
New apps – Maps and iBooks
The biggest changes Mavericks brings to the table come in the form of two new apps: iBooks and Maps, both of which have already featured heavily in iOS
iBooks takes over where iTunes left off when it comes to handling eBooks, iBooks Author projects and PDF books on your Mac (there’s even an import function built in to make transferring everything over easy). While the Mac might not be the ideal platform for reading, the app certainly lends itself well to education, with the option to open more than one book at once and some particularly fully featured highlighting and note-taking functions.
On the flip side of iBooks, there’s also the new iBooks Store, which functions like a mini-iTunes Store for a single type of media. Like the iTunes Store, purchases are made using the payment details associated with your Apple ID and everything is synced across your devices via iCloud.
Maps, again, mirrors the functionality of iOS, giving you desktop access to directions, local business search, Flyover view and more on a far larger canvas. Where it really proves its worth, though, is with its integration with other apps within OS X such as Contacts and Calendar and the option to send directions directly to iOS devices, almost instantly, via iCloud.
UI tweaks – Calendar, Contacts, Safari
Unlike iOS 7, Mavericks hasn’t received a complete overhaul under the stewardship of Senior Vice President of Design, Jony Ive, but our softly spoken English friend has managed to take a few swipes at the skeuomorphic elements that previously featured across the OS.
Calendar, Contacts and Safari are now devoid of any of the heavy textures they once leant heavily on, and each app has been peppered with a few new features and improvements. Most notably, Calendar has been gifted a new Inspector that features maps and driving times to locations. Safari has a new sidebar which replaces the legacy bookmarks view but also introduces a stream of links posted by friends to Twitter and LinkedIn, should you have those accounts connected in System Preferences.
iCloud Keychain – Password and payment details saving
In the wake of the NSA/Snowdon scandal, Apple has made a bold play, offering to save the log-in details and generate passwords for every website you work on in a new feature it calls iCloud Keychain. Not only that, but the same service will also store and sync credit card details across every device you own, with a view to making online shopping far easier.
Despite its name, iCloud Keychain won’t store these details in the cloud, with Apple’s servers only really acting as a highway for the information to travel on between your iCloud-enabled devices. What’s more, information is encrypted both on your devices and in transit, hopefully waylaying any security concerns.
Once iCloud Keychain has been enabled in System Preferences, it will begin to offer you pre-generated passwords (that are pretty complex – containing numbers and letters in both cases) when your cursor is within the password field.
Other updates – Multiple displays support, updated Finder, new Notifications
Beyond the headline updates, OS X Mavericks also brings with it some sought-after improvements to its support for multiple displays. Additional displays now have their own menu bar and the Dock will appear in whichever one you’re working in. Full-screen apps can run on each display, and AirPlay monitors controlled by Apple TV also now function as displays in their own right.
Finder now features tabbed browsing, which functions much in the same way as Safari and Tags to help organise files (essentially a rebranding of the current Labels) and Notifications now feature the option to reply to Messages and emails inline.
Release date and compatibility
Mavericks will be released to the public today, as a download from the Mac App Store for free. As far as compatibility goes, early indications suggest Macs capable of running OS X Mountain Lion should be fine for the Mavericks upgrade. As a refresher, those are:
- iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
- MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
- MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
- MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
- Mac Mini (Early 2009 or newer)
- Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
Not all machines will be able to run all Mavericks features, though. Many of the cross-device syncing features, such as iBooks in iCloud, will require an iCloud account and compatible devices, and other services will be limited to syncing across a maximum of ten devices.