A Week With OS X Mavericks

on June 28, 2013

As I watched Apple announce and demonstrate many of the key new features in OS X Mavericks, I was continually struck with the same thought about the many features being shown. To me, they all seemed very useful.

In fact, the last few years it seems I have had the same feeling with each and every release. Each time its gets better and each time OS X gets even more useful features for desktop and notebook computer users. I’ve been using Mavericks for a week now and here are a few of my stand out experiences.

Surfing On Mavericks

Perhaps it is fitting that with this version of OS X named Mavericks, which is named after the epic big wave surf spot near Half Moon Bay, CA, Apple has released hands down the best web surfing experience on a Mac yet. The new Safari is noticeably faster. Which is saying something in an age of micro-second performance increases. Browsing the web simply feels snappy and quick.

Scrolling however, something we all do many times a day, is now super smooth and more like scrolling on an iPad or iPhone. Scrolling in this new version of Safari simply needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. I compared it to my other Mac running Lion and found that scrolling in Mavericks is noticeably smoother and more fluid. Making reading while scrolling feel like an entirely new experience.

Shared links is also a feature on the new Safari I found myself using more than I thought. I spend a lot of time on Twitter but not everything in my timeline is a link. I found myself using the shared links features to just filter what people I follow on Twitter are linking to.

Multiple Display Features

When I’m stationary at my home or work office, I use several monitors. I have a theory, the more monitors your use, the more productive you can be. It’s true for me at least. So it was no surprise to me, given my workflow, that I appreciate the new multiple display features.

In particular, the menu bars and docks are now available on all monitors, which is extremely handy. It may seem like a little feature but it’s actually a big deal in increasing efficiency of workflow when using multiple monitors. You kind of feel like you are using three actual Macs when in this multi-screen mode.

Another aspect of the new multiple display features I found quite useful was AirPlay display. This new feature lets you turn any TV connected with Apple TV into a secondary display. This has been extremely useful for me because I often work with others on presentations or data gathering in a collaborative environment. We do this through Apple TV connected to a TV in our conference room. Usually I just Airplay my display which will mirror my Mac’s screen to the TV. Now we can use the TV as a separate display to keep specific data on screen while we work collaborate on the other.

Interactive Notifications

When Apple added notifications to OS X, it was one of the features I was looking forward to the most. Yet once I started using them, I immediately felt it would be nice if I could delete an email or respond to one right from the notification.

After having and using interactive notifications on my developer preview of Mavericks, it is hard to imagine living without it. Chalk this up as a feature I hope comes to iOS notifications on iPad.

Overall Performance Increases

Apple lists several new features to Mavericks which they call “advanced features.” These advanced features, like app nap, timer coalescing, compressed memory, and more, are all designed to optimize the performance of your Mac. These optimizations lead to speedy and more responsive experiences with things like apps, the web, etc., but will also lead to better battery life gains.

I’ve been testing OS X Mavericks on a 13″ rMBP which is not my every day machine. I’d have liked to compare exact machines to quantify some battery life gains but I don’t have a second of the exact same machine. Some of these points are hard to quantify but I am including them to make an observation and propose a theory.

I’ve bought and moved to the new MacBook Air 13″ running Intel’s latest low power but high performance 4th generation core processor code named “Haswell” as my everyday machine and I’m running OS X Mountain Lion. Even without running OS X Mavericks the battery life I am getting on this Mac is profound and transformative. It is more than double what I was getting with my MacBook Air of two years ago. I’m planning a full article on my experience with this product but the bottom line is I can work all day in meetings, take notes, browse the web, etc., and I no longer need to worry about plugging in my notebook.

My theory is that OS X Mavericks is going to increase the battery life even more on this new MacBook Air–and all Apple notebooks for that matter–when it launches. The 2013 MacBook Air already has industry leading battery life and my guess is that OS X Mavericks will make it even better.

Overall, Apple is continuing their trend of adding new and useful features on an annual basis. But more importantly, in the grand scheme of things, OS X Mavericks represents Apple’s commitment to innovate uniquely for different form factors. Apple has drawn a line in the sand and stated with their actions that they believe software for the PC is different and should be treated different than software for tablets and smartphones. This does not mean all our screens are islands- quite the contrary. They share experiences and get more tightly integrated relationships in the multi-screen reality we live in. But it does mean that Apple is committed to delivering the best desktop and notebook computing experience possible. Mavericks represents this for Apple. Evolving computing is all about making computing accessible and enabling solutions that makes computing easy, effective, and convenient. Mavericks delivers on this promise.

When Mavericks comes out the experience scrolling with Safari and the advanced features leading to better system optimization and battery life alone will be worth it for me.