Apple’s big October event was held today, and aside from underwhelming news on the iPad line (iPad Air, really??), we also got more insight into the Mac Pro (nothing short of amazing here… you could easily remake the entire Toy Story trilogy with the Pro), the upgraded iLife and iWork apps (big news: they’re free with new iDevices), an upgrade to the MacBook line… but what caught my attention the most was the release of Mavericks, the newest update to the Mac operating system.

OS X 10.9, as Mavericks is less popularly known, has over 200 new features designed to make OS X run more faster and more efficiently while allowing the user to reach their full creative potential… as big a claim as any operating system can make.  Let’s take a look at some of the key upgrades and features:

iBooks

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Sadly, it appears Apple has not ditched the hated skeuomorphic design.  You still get a virtual bookcase, animated page turning, etc… Jonathan Ive must’ve lost this battle.  In any case, your iBooks collection is now available on a Mac computer running Mavericks.  As on any mobile iDevice, new books can be purchased directly from the iBooks Store.

It’s a slick way to read a book at your desk, though I doubt many people will curl up with their Macbook if they have a new, lighter iPad Air nearby.  Apple also demonstrated iBooks integration with other native apps like Pages by pulling a quote from a book to a Pages document… it showed up as a big quote that could be resized, and even had the attribute. Nice.

Maps

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Maps has improved over time, just like most serious Apple pundits figured it would.  It won’t drop you off a bridge  into the ocean any longer, and most metropolitan cities are well covered.  Does it still lag behind Google Maps on features?  You betcha!  However,  like everything Apple, it’s being perfected over time.  You can look up locations in 2D or 3D, obtain flyovers of well-known sites (I love flying over the Roman Forum) and, more importantly, it links to social sites like Yelp.  A key feature: the ability to send Map information (with full details) and directions to your mobile iDevice.

Safari

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Apple has maintained consistency with one of its oldest apps… the Safari browser.  Safari now offers “shared links” within the sidebar.  It’s a live feed of Twitter and LinkedIn accounts that enables clicks on any link to appear instantly within the browser.  You can also share your Web finds and re-tweet/share, all from within the browser.  It’s a useful feature, but curiously (or not), Facebook is omitted… and Pinterest is completely ignored. 

iCloud Keychain

Keychain is an old Apple utility that makes it easier to  access sites and Wi-Fi hotspots without having to constantly re-enter passwords.  iCloud Keychain now makes it easier to shop online by storing credit card information.  I’m not sure it’s for everybody, since the hassle of re-entering financial information is one of the most basic ways to protect yourself online.  I doubt the geniuses at Cupertino have found a way to make people iHonest (imagine the cool Apple video about that development!).

iCloud Keychain syncs across devices, allowing stored passwords and credit card info to be pushed to any iDevice.  Again, this probably isn’t for everyone… especially folks that frequently lose their iDevices (though they can be remotely wiped nowadays).  Many mobile iDevice apps can store credit card info nowadays, so I gather Apple wouldn’t be rolling this out unless they perfected it somehow, but I’m not aware of any encryption beyond the standard system password.  Apple at least follows one core financial security practice: you can’t store  the code number found on the back of cards.  iCloud Keychain is an optional feature in any case.

Under The Hood

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There are more features within the OS such as improved management of multiple displays, improved Finder tags for better organization, an “App Nap” feature that puts individual apps to sleep for better battery life and performance, improved file sharing protocols, Expanded OpenCL supporting Intel HD Graphics 4000/5000, as well as Intel Iris Pro integrated graphics processors, and a compressed memory feature for better efficiency when running multiple apps.

Mavericks OS 10.9 is a terrific upgrade to an already solid operating system.  Best of all, as announced today by Apple’s execs, the OS upgrade is FREE!

Who can run it

Well, You can upgrade to OS X Mavericks from Snow Leopard (10.6.8), Lion (10.7), or Mountain Lion (10.8).  You’ll need 2GB of RAM and at least 8GB of available space on your drive.

Your Mac hardware also must meet these requirements:

  • 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)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)



Christian Hokenson

 
Christian Hokenson is a writer based in Burbank, CA. He's interested in technology, movies, and home entertainment. If you're nice to him, he might buy you ice cream.