According to Apple, half of iPhone users use Notes regularly. I'm one of those people, and I refer to those notes on my Mac frequently. I'd never call Notes an essential app, but it's ubiquitous, and improving it seems only right.
Safari gets pinned
Safari's my default web browser and I use it endlessly, so I'm happy to see Apple continuing to find new ways to improve it. It would be really easy for Apple to rest on Safari development and consider web browsing a solved problem, but that hasn't happened.
In El Capitan, Safari adds support for muting of audio in stray tabshuge for dealing with sites that really like to play video automatically, including this one. As someone who doesn't rely on RSS feeds but does have a collection of sites I like to visit regularly, I'm enthusiastic about the new Pinned Sites feature, which is sort of like a fancy version of the Favorites Bar, keeping your very favorite sites one click away. It's the kind of feature that novices and power users alike can appreciate.
Mail swipes to success
I've still got a love/hate relationship with the Mail app. I use it for a while, then quit it for an alternative, but eventually seem to end up back in its clutches. But the fact is, most Mac users who use a Mail app use Mailit's right there. And as with Safari, Apple keeps pushing the ball forward.
I used the Mailbox app for a while and really enjoyed its interface, which (as on iOS) lets you swipe on messages to file or delete them. It's a metaphor that really works if you're using a trackpad, and Apple's integrating it into Mail with El Capitan. It's not the most discoverable feature in the world, but if you do learn how to use it, it's quite a time saver.
Upgrades to Photos
Photos for Mac arrived a few months ago, and is getting its first notable update with El Capitan. By far the most glaring feature omission from Photos 1.0 was the inability to add or edit location information. That feature has been added in the new version of Photos that comes with El Capitan, along with other metadata editing features, both individually and in batches.
There's also support for third-party photo editing extensions, which should please Aperture users who have made the move to Photos and found it limiting. It's unclear what third parties will actually write editing plug-ins for Photos, but the capability will be there in El Capitan.
Speed and stability
Let's not forget that bug fixes and speed boosts are features! And they're worth getting excited about. I've heard from many Mac users who have been frustrated by bugs they've in countered in Mavericks and Yosemite. Apple's upgrade cycle, providing a new version of OS X and iOS (and now maybe watchOS, too?) every single year, seems relentless. It's probably wise for the company to ease back to more of a tick-tock approach, with a major release followed by a year of retrenchment and focus on refining the new stuff that's been added in recent years.
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