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Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks Hands-On

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Mac OS X Mavericks was unveiled at WWDC during Apple’s keynote on Monday, and Mac Developers have already started to fiddle around on the developer preview edition since then.  We’ve had a first go around of Mavericks through our own developer preview edition and though this is just a quick first look of a beta edition (not all features are available yet: iCloud passwords, iBooks) there are a number of features we’re excited about.

 Maps

Sure iOS Maps had a rough run when it first rolled out last fall, what with its inaccurate mapping and highly disfigured images.  But Apple Maps has made vast improvements within its first year and Mavericks will bring aboard its iOS Maps cousin to the Mac.  If you are a fan of the iOS version, you will not be disappointed with its desktop version.

One benefit of using Maps in the OS X ecosystem is it integrates nicely with other Apps. One specific example we’ll highlight later is in Calendar.

 Safari

Apple promises the newest iteration to Safari will deliver “blazing performance.” While I didn’t notice any blazing speeds, and I’m reluctant to provide a review of a beta version, I’d say Safari performed without any issues.

Noticeably the first change that’s most apparent is the addition of “Top Sites” which looks familiar for Google Chrome users that have the similar feature enabled.

The addition of Sidebar gives browsing an additional dimension, while it brings your bookmarks/reading lists to a more vertical listing, though it isn’t an entirely new concept.

While Apple touts some new amazing battery preserving tools built into Mavericks, and in turn Safari, I can’t say it enhanced or deterred my web browsing.  I was on a Mac Mini, so battery preservation wasn’t really a feature I was looking to try.

I have to admit, my favorite feature in Safari has to be Shared Links.  It is like melding of TweetDeck and a browser to give a more seamless method to read links out of tweets while not interrupting my twitter feed and a quick way to retweet posts.

You can toggle these features on/off so use them at your discretion.

Notifications

Notifications became more obtrusive, err apparent, in Mountain Lion but all it did was force you to open in to another app.  Having used notifications in 10.8, the feature just seemed to me more annoying than anything.

I appreciate that Mavericks’ notifications are more interactive allowing for actions within pop-up balloons, especially through Messages.  This definitely makes notifications less hateable.

Notifications in Mavericks also claim to be able to provide alerts form webpages, we’ll have to try those features further to explain its efficacy. I suppose it is up to developers to figure out what those alerts will be.  The examples used in the keynote were eBay purchases, sports scores and breaking news; maybe down the road we can expect Amazon shipment updates, concert tickets on-sale, traffic updates and the like will eventually make its way to the notifications window.

Finder/Tabs/Tags

Finder tabs are as useful as using multiple windows, it depends on whether or not you use them, and how effectively you know how to use them.  That being said, I am looking forward to using this feature more. I often have multiple Finder windows open and am tabbing/clicking to find my way to the correct tab.  Hooray.

Tags are fantastic.  I know that as long as I can tag files and folders correctly I can easily and quickly find items on my hard drive.

Calendar

My biggest gripe with Calendar is that it lacked the robust features that I have grown accustomed to in Microsoft Outlook’s calendar.  In respect to the level of detail, the use of exchange server, and, well, the look and feel just felt lacking to me.  I used to call it my “Playskool calendar.”  With Mavericks however, I can say accounts are easier to set up, and allows for better meta data, including travel time.  Though I wished it were a bit more like Google Now and could provide these data points for me without having to add them in manually.

These are just a handful of the improvements being made for Mavericks. In fact, much of the “Advanced Technologies” (timer coalescing, App Nap, Safari Power Saver, iTunes HD playback efficiency, compressed memory) are done on the back end that won’t be apparent at first for average users. 

We’ll delve deeper into Mavericks as we see a finalized version of it. Until then you’ve got these screenshots to tide you over. Mac OSX Mavericks will be available for download in the Fall.


Roy Choi

Roy Choi is a Southern California native. He has been infatuated with technology reviews ever since he bought his first crummy laptop in the summer...

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