Apple has just announced a beta test preview of Mac OS X “Yosemite,” the new version of its computer operating system for Macs that is “Coming this fall.” Only the first one million people who sign up to download it will be eligible to test it out, but in the meantime anyone can check out Apple’s preview website get a sneak peek at OS X Yosemite for themselves.
And if you do, probably the first thing you’ll notice is how much OS X Yosemite’s design reminds you of iOS 8, the operating system used on the iPhone and iPad.
Flat windows, flat icons, flat dock
Apple’s earlier designs for both iOS and Mac OS X were skeuomorphic, in the sense that the apps and icons often resembled real-world objects. They also used lots of textures, from the yellow notepad of the Notes app to the “rich Corinthian leather” in Calendar.
iOS 7 was a radical redesign, based around color, typography, and empty space instead of faux-3d icons and textures. Now, from the screenshots on Apple’s preview page, you can see how the lessons learned in designing the new iOS are making their way to the new OS X. Even the 3d dock introduced back in OS X 10.5 Leopard has been changed back to a 2d one, while parts of some apps have been made translucent like iOS 8’s glassy surfaces.
Redesigned window buttons and first-party apps
The “stoplight” buttons in the upper-left corner of windows in OS X Yosemite are being turned from their glossy, candy bead forms into plain, flat circles, and the green button will full-screen apps instead of maximizing them. Also, they now reside in the same area as the buttons, Safari web address bar, and other controls on many of Apple’s first-party apps, leaving more room for app content.
New options for third-party app developers
App developers will be able to extend the notification area in OS X Yosemite with “widgets” that continually update, similar to the “gadgets” used in earlier versions of OS X and the widgets and Live Tiles in Android and Windows 8.1. They will also be able to add in new ways to share data between apps, so that you can use an app to retouch a photo you’re browsing in the Finder (to use an example that Apple gave).
Finally, it’s not clear yet how much of a difference it will make, since Apple hasn’t released any details. But there will supposedly be “Shared Frameworks Between OS X and iOS,” according Apple’s OS X Yosemite developer page, which will make it easier for app developers to port iPhone / iPad apps to your Mac.