Debuted at Apple’s WWDC in June, and released as a public beta over the summer, Apple has just announced that it has officially released OS X Yosemite (Free), taking the Mac operating system into the second-generation of California park-themed releases with a new flattened look that’s reminiscent of the changes made last year in iOS 7. From the dock to Finder windows, icons to typography, there are some serious refinements. And it’s not just looks: new features are baked in too, including Notification Center upgrades, a brand new Spotlight, iCloud Drive, Mail, Safari, and more. And then there’s Continuity.
In Notification Center, there’s a new Today view that presents information around the day and widgets, which will be available in the Mac App Store. This allows you to customize the display to show just the information you want. As for Spotlight, it now pops up in the middle of the screen, and is much more powerful. Enter just a few letters, and not only will you get a list of results, but also instant previews of the content and web search results. It looks like a really useful tool.
iCloud Drive makes web-based files accessible in the Finder, across iOS devices, and even on PCs—think Dropbox, but it’s baked right into the operating system. Mail’s new look is paired with a feature called MailDrop, which allows you to send files up to 5GB easily and securely, no matter the recipient. Mail also contains a feature called MarkUp, which is a lot like Skitch, letting you doodle all over your documents. Safari got a redesign too, with a much simpler menu bar that still offers all the power of earlier features, only with modal pop-up favorites and sharing windows appearing when necessary and direct integration with Spotlight searches for things like Wikipedia and Maps, right from the address bar. It’s much more energy-efficient, too, and six times faster than other browsers.
Arguably the biggest new feature of all is Continuity, which means being able to use the right device at the right time. This starts with AirDrop finally working between Macs and iOS devices. Even cooler is Handoff: your Mac and iOS devices will talk to each other, and based on proximity, let you pick up on one where you left off on the other. And, even cooler—your iPhone’s texts and phone calls can go through the Mac now too, including the ability to make and receive calls through your computer and dynamically enable and use Personal Hotspot on-demand.