First impressions of OS X Yosemite public beta

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A week ago, I updated my version of Mac OS X from Mavericks to Yosemite public beta. I will admit, having gone through some less than satisfying beta experiences from other companies in the past, there was much apprehension on my part. However, after deep consideration and a good deal of coaxing from a colleague who had already made the transition, my faith in Apple prevailed. Upgrading to an incomplete OS build is a risky move, but I realized that the official release is only a few weeks away. How bad could it be?

It took a reasonable twenty or thirty minutes to download Yosemite public beta from Apple’s official web page. I backed up my MacBook Air as instructed, and then said a silent prayer as I started to load the operating system. My apprehension came roaring back and I felt like I was leaning into a trust fall without knowing I would be caught. Fortunately, my colleague reassured me that everything was going to work just fine as long as I opted out of the iCloud Drive, which is not yet stable.

The boot screen for Yosemite is all black with a white Apple logo in the middle. It is simple, clean and different. It took only seven seconds to start the computer and reach the login screen. Since I rarely shut down my MacBook, this is a sequence I will not often experience. The sleep mode for MacBooks is quite amazing. The power drain is insignificant and the wake-up is instant.

After signing in, I was prompted to opt-in to the iCloud Drive, which I declined to do. Apple is still testing this service and the contents are often wiped clean while they continue to refine the system. iCloud Drive is one of the many amazing Continuity features that will go live with iOS 8. Sadly, all of these features that many of us are looking forward to, like Handoff, cross-platform phone calls, universal messaging, the improved AirDrop, and instant hotspot are not accessible through Yosemite Beta.

For the most part, and to the average user, Yosemite is a face-lift. The icon designs are stylish and similar to the look of the icons of iOS 7, thus creating a design flow between Apple’s mobile and computer platforms. Like with iOS 7, some of the color choices are a bit different, almost too vibrant compared to what we are used to in previous versions of OS X. The over-simplified icons are somehow more easily identifiable, and somehow more distinct. You will find it is less likely to confuse the App Store with Safari and iTunes has dropped its blue icon altogether for a red one. Overall, the changes in design are not too extreme, but certainly different enough to feel new.

The stylistic design similarities between Apple’s two platforms make perfect sense. The push towards functional continuity between these platforms makes even more sense. Honestly, I cannot wait to try those features. Though I was certain they would not be present in this beta build, I hoped that they would be. The idea of Continuity seems like something Steve Jobs would have clamored for years ago, but the team was probably not ready for it. I know that we have all hoped for features like these for so long, that when Apple finally announced them at WWDC 2014, we were all nodding our heads in approval, saying, “It’s about time.” I imagine that these new features have been in the making for years.

Where Continuity seems clearly rooted in the legacy of Steve Jobs, the new design features appear otherwise. I do not think that Steve Jobs would have approved of the appearance or even some of the functionality of Yosemite, but he would have been wrong. Yosemite feels like Apple stepping away from the legacy of the past and charting their own course. This is no longer Steve Jobs’ Apple and that is good. When the late CEO passed away, many held their breath for a complete collapse of the company. What they should have realized was that Steve Jobs had been more a mythological figurehead for years before his death. He had surrounded himself with a team that was well prepared and more than capable to take the helm upon his passing.

Prepare yourself for the second coming of Apple. Yosemite reflects the confidence that they clearly have and with Yosemite, Tim Cook’s team at Cupertino is making a stand. They are saying, “This is our Apple.”

About Author

Poet, web designer, and tech writer, Brad Bailey is co-founder of Tech Gen Mag. Having once been a regular in the Orange County poetry circuit, Brad set his notebooks aside to assist childhood friend, Kristian Markus, with the task of building a web-based tech magazine. Born into the Nintendo generation, Brad is a longtime fan of video games, gadgets, and computers.

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