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First Impressions After 2 Weeks With OS X Yosemite

By William Peacock, Esq. on August 08, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's been two weeks. Two weeks running Apple's beta version of OS X 10.10 Yosemite, set for wide release this fall. (Well, almost two weeks -- it took 24 hours to actually download the software, but I digress.) Two weeks of flat design, upgraded features, and surprisingly few bugs for a beta version.

What's the verdict? OS X 10.10 is the iOS-ification of the desktop operating system: flat design, thinner fonts, and a few other features pulled from the mobile OS, and it's surprisingly fantastic.

This Looks Different...

Yes it does. Instead of Lucida Grande as the default system font, you'll be looking at Helvetica Neue, a thinner font that I was initially worried would be hard to see on my non-Retina (lower resolution screen) MacBook Air. After all, the word from Apple was that Yosemite was designed with higher resolution screens in mind.

Fortunately, there were no such issues -- the new font is absolutely gorgeous. As for other visual tweaks, if you've seen an iPhone in the last year, the changes will be unsurprising: brighter colors, flat design, slight translucency for all menus, and no glassy effects on icons or buttons.

The only disappointment? Dark mode, which turns the task bar and a few other things black. Unfortunately, it doesn't do so for in-app or context menus and most system dialogs (including Spotlight). Plus, third-party notification icons, up by the clock, often disappear into the dark background. This is a beta version, so it could improve, but right now, it feels like a half-baked afterthought.

Spotlight: Now Useful

The new Spotlight brings up a universal system and Internet search in the middle of your screen -- either click the magnifying glass on the top right corner of your screen or hit Cmd+Space, then type a query, and it'll search your documents, applications, Wikipedia, and the rest of the Internet.

One shortcoming: typing a favorite site, like San Francisco Craigslist, doesn't bring anything up unless you start with "http:// ...", which defeats the time-saving purpose of Spotlight.

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Notifications and Today Panel

I've had a Mac for a few months now. I used the Notifications Center once: when I clicked the icon to see what it does. The Yosemite Today/Notifications panel, which again, is pulled from Apple mobile OS, has your weather, notifications, calendar, social network buttons, and more.

In short, it's something I might actually use.

TBD: Continuity, iCloud

Some features aren't yet included in the beta. Others only work if you have a compatible device (an iPhone or iPad is required for Continuity -- the feature that passes data, files, text, and phone calls back and forth between your Mac and your mobile device). I haven't tested either just yet, and Continuity might just be the biggest new feature of OS X 10.10.

With that in mind, how big of an upgrade is Yosemite? Visually, it's huge -- not jarring, mind you, but definitely a system-wide facelift. But functionally? Spotlight and Notifications/Today are great, but hardly game changers. Battery life, speed, and other functionality has shown no noticeable change.

So far, it's a good upgrade, but we'll wait for Continuity (the iPhone 6 can't get here soon enough!) to really judge Yosemite.

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