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Hands on: OS X 10.10 Yosemite beta shows off a new look and features

Michael deAgonia | July 30, 2014
The beta of Apple's latest operating system, OS X 10.10 Yosemite, promises a sparkling new design and some very useful features.

As described in the WWDC keynote, I didn't think the Instant Hotspot feature was that big of a deal; at least, not compared to the other features. But recently my neighborhood was hit with a power outage and my MacBook Pro was running on battery power. On a whim, I clicked on the Wi-Fi menu and noticed that my iPhone and my iPad — both of which use LTE — were being displayed as options for Internet connections. After selecting one, I was back online in an instant with no configuration necessary on my part. Now that's cool. Instant Hotspot will be a life-saver for many Apple users, just from sheer convenience and no need for configuration.

More useful features

Another area in which OS X has assimilated useful iOS features is in the Notification Center, specifically the Today view. Notifications are still displayed in the Notifications Center — which is accessed via a click on the upper right of the menu bar or via a two-finger swipe starting from the edge of the right side of a trackpad — but there's now a toggle for Today that displays everything you might want to know about your day at a glance.

As of Yosemite and iOS 8, file transfers via AirDrop work between Macs and iOS devices.

Date and weather, calendar events, data about stocks, a world clock, and a glimpse into the next day's upcoming events are listed by default. The widgets contained in the Notification Center can be programmed for interaction, so clicking on widgets like Weather will bring up more details. There are also shortcuts so you can quickly update your status to social networks like Twitter and Facebook or start instant messaging conversations — right from the Notification Center. There is a calculator widget, as well.

Better yet, the Notification Center is extendable via third-party software. During the WWDC keynote, Apple execs showed off Notification widgets for ESPN and others, so expect more once Yosemite is officially released.

Spotlight searching has become much better at displaying relevant data in search results, and Apple engineers have increased the amount of sources that Spotlight pulls from, including online sources for the most current data. As before, Spotlight can be found in the upper right of the menu bar — or summoned by pressing Command-Space — but, unlike before, search results aren't crammed into a small section of the screen.

In Yosemite, Spotlight search results display front and center. Not only can Spotlight help you find obscure phrases in documents you forgot you had, but now it references Wikipedia, Bing, the iTunes Store, Maps, theater show times, current news, conversions of units/currency and more.


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