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OS X Mavericks: Different name, looks the same

Michael deAgonia | Oct. 23, 2013
Apple's new desktop and laptop OS builds on its predecessors, applying polish where needed

There are two icons to the lower right: a +/- button for zooming in and out, and a compass icon. The compass can be dragged around the Maps window to change viewing angle and perspective; if you use Apple's trackpads, tapping and holding three fingers allows you to control the map's perspective and angle.

Maps shines when you use a trackpad, thanks to gesture support. You can use two fingers to scroll, pinch-to-zoom and twist-to-rotate. Double-tap one finger to zoom in, and double-tap two fingers to zoom out.

On the iPad, you can use two fingers to shift your perspective into Flyover mode, but in OS X Mavericks, if there's a gesture for Flyover, I haven't found it. It can be activated via keyboard command (Command-0), by clicking the 3D button, or by dragging three fingers across the compass using an Apple trackpad.

Maps performs smoothly in the less-detailed Standard mode, slightly less so in Hybrid and Satellite modes, which show images of the terrain you're viewing (a la Google Maps). Even so, it doesn't take long for Maps to load.

Maps also offers real-time traffic information by showing red or orange dashes in areas where traffic is moving slowly. The one thing that bugs me — really irks me — about Maps is that it shows nothing along streets and highways where traffic is moving along just fine. This does reduce visual clutter, but it makes it impossible to tell whether the roads are clear or Maps was unable to establish a connection and load data. Leaving you uncertain about whether data has been loaded or not is bad design. I would much prefer a visual indication — such as a green line — when traffic is moving and red/orange when it's not.

Another new OS X app: iBooks
In this new version, iBooks has made its way to OS X. Think of iBooks as essentially iTunes for books. Just as with iTunes, you have access to books from the iBooks store (there's a button for quick access to the store in the main iBooks window) and in the cloud.

When you first launch the app, you'll be asked to sign in with an iCloud account. Once you do, all of your book purchases spill into the main window, where they display by default.

When you first open up a book, it must download before you can start reading. Bookmarks, highlights and collections are synced across devices if you want to continue reading on an iPad or iPhone. (You can turn syncing off in the iBooks preferences.)

When you first launch iBooks, you'll be asked to sign in with an iCloud account. Once you do, all of your book purchases spill into the main window.


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