Last month, Apple has released a small update to iOS, patching a security vulnerability. Just like how Mac and iOS share a lot of things, it turns out they share this vulnerability too.
The bug is now patched in OS X too. Along with the bug fix, 10.9.2 brings FaceTime Audio to Mac and more.
If you got a Mac running Mavericks, update to 10.9.2 right now. Why is it so serious? Read on.
The bug lies in SSL protocol implementation on iOS and Mac devices. It lets an attacker to track and modify data exchanged in sessions protected by SSL.
So let’s say you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot and are doing a bank transaction (HTTPS) – an attacker can use a network analyser (like Wireshark) and decode packets of data that are being transmitted. This is a huge flaw.
It seems, the bug is a result of single bad ‘goto’ line. Check out this Wired article for in depth analysis on this silly bug.
Bug fix aside, OS X 10.9.2 finally brings FaceTime Audio for Mac. Ideally, FaceTime Audio should have been included in Mavericks itself, but it didn’t. iMessage app now has a ‘blocked’ list allowing you to block messages from people.
It’s that time of the year when Apple releases an update to their desktop operating system and the power users try to use and experience every bit of it.
A few days back, during a special event, Apple released OS X Mavericks. I’ve been using it for 3-4 days and here’s what I think about it.
Note: I tested Mavericks on a year old 13″ MacBook Pro – which isn’t too new, nor too old.
Finder Tabs and Tags
I’m starting with Finder because it’s easily one of the most used apps on my Mac. Thankfully, Apple did bring two features to this. Both of these features are practically useful too.
Finder Tabs look no different from Safari tabs. You hit CMD+T, and a new tab gets added. You can then switch between them and even transfer files by dropping over them.
Even CMD+Click-ing a folder now results in a new tab, instead of a window. If you have multiple Finder tabs, you can merge them. Click on the video below.
Next up is Finder Tags. The first thing you’ll notice is that, the colourful tags looks popped out in the Finder app, where everything is monochrome. That’s for bad or good, I don’t know.
Tags appear in the sidebar and are assigned a colour. Tags can contain files and folders. I’m personally using it to group folders. For example, I have a ‘code’ tag which lists all the folders where I have code.
Tags can be added to documents right away and will be synced via iCloud.
Safari is not my default browser, not even in Mavericks, but it still impressed me with some of its new features.
To start, they tweaked the UI a bit – removing the faux 3D effect from new tab page. The feature that stands out is, the new Sidebar. It brings Bookmarks, Reading list and Shared links under single column.
Shared links is a new feature which grabs all the links from your Twitter timeline (and LinkedIn!) and lets you browse through links one after the other. It does a really good job at that.
Other neat additions include iCloud keychain which fills and remembers secure passwords for you. I use LastPass myself and many use 1Password, but nevertheless it’s a fine addition.
Safari can also send you notifications from websites, even when it’s not running. There are just a bunch of websites which support this now – including New York Times, NBA.com and few more. It’s a really powerful addition to a browser.
The two finger swipe back gesture works better than ever, as caching is done well. On a whole, it’s a tad faster.
Debuted in Mountain Lion, Notification center is a pretty useful addition to OS X. A lot of apps support it now and Apple has made it even better in Mavericks. Taking cues from Android, Apple has made notification in OS X actionable.
Let’s say you received a message, you can reply to it, without actually opening the Messages app. Received a FaceTime call? Same thing. There will be an API for third party apps to include this functionality.
Previously, you could post to Facebook and Twitter from the Notification center, now you can even send iMessages.
New toys to play with
Apple has brought in two new system apps in Mavericks – Maps and iBooks. Both of these make Mac play well with iOS devices.
Everyone remembers the Apple Maps debacle, with that in mind, I didn’t expect much from the Maps app – but to my surprise, it was very good. Keeping the data aside (which is what Maps lacks), the UX is really good. It’s a whole lot better than using Google Maps’ web app.
Pinch to zoom and panning work smoothly and everything feels faster. Some of the satellite imagery is stunning and look great in full screen. You can add bookmarks and they get synced via iCloud.
In spite of all this, Apple Maps will probably never replace Google Maps for me. Especially because, now that Google has Waze, you can expect even more accurate data in Google Maps.
iBooks in Mavericks bring in a simple way to purchase and read books. The library is pretty vast and there are a lot of free books too.
The reading interface gets everything out of the way and you can customise the look of it (fonts and all). iBooks can be interactive too, including having embedded videos, though I didn’t try any such book yet.
Performance and Battery life
By far, the biggest change in Mavericks has to be the underneath performance and battery life tweaks. This is a great news for MacBook users, as you not only get more out of your existing RAM, but also get extra battery life.
After over 3 days of usage, I observed over 6-6.5 hours of battery life on continuous usage- as supposed to 5.5 hours on Mountain Lion. The difference will be huge in the new MacBook Air with Haswell processors.
Technically speaking, Apple introduced App Nap, Timer Coalescing and Compressed Memory. You can learn more about them at Apple’s site.
Better performance means, the App Store app no longer stutters, LaunchPad is smoother, Safari is snappier, etc. Ultimately, you have to use Mavericks to understand the underneath improvements.
Death of Linen
While Apple didn’t slap the flat interface they have in iOS 7, on OS X – they did made a few UI tweaks. The linen background which can be seen all over the OS, is now replaced with a solid background.
Take a look at the Notification center, Mission Control and LaunchPad. Dashboard has got a new background too.
Apps like Calendar, Contacts and Notes have been redesigned. I think Calendar looks good with no faux leather. I hardly use Contacts and Notes, but they look nice too. Icons of these apps are still the same, though.
What Apple has yet to fix
So Mavericks is indeed a good update for OS X. That doesn’t mean it’s all gold, though. Here are few thing Apple will have to concentrate on.
Every OS X user knows that the Messages app is a mess. Mavericks doesn’t change that. The icon badge count in the dock keeps going crazy. It lags like crazy and the order of messages get swapped. Sometimes the iMessage service itself is down.
Apple clearly has to do something about this.
Are there bugs in Mavericks? Yes. Are they really intrusive and keep you from updating? No. Does Apple has to fix them? Indeed.
Best example is the bug in Finder app. Just open few Finder windows and close – to reproduce this bug. I had to do a killall Finder to get rid of this.
OS X Mavericks improves Apple’s desktop operating system in quite a few areas. It makes your Mac faster, long last and brings useful features. It’s indeed an incremental update – but that’s what most OS X updates have been.
And it’s free.
So why wait? Open the App Store app, update. It’ll take around a hour to install Mavericks, apart from the gigantic 5.29GB download.
Did you try Mavericks? We are interested to know what you think about it!
Yesterday’s Apple’s media event was pretty awesome. They unveiled the new iPad Air, Mac Pro, MacBook Pros and lot more.
There was one thing which wasn’t expected though – giving away Mavericks for free. On the same day.
Mavericks is the first release of OS X breaking away from the cat family names. Apple has removed linen everywhere and has replaced with a solid colour – making it inline with iOS 7 style.
We already talked about the features before, the ones that stand out are Finder tabs/tags, better memory compression, longer battery life, iBooks and so on.
The update is available for all the devices which are running OS X Mountain Lion.
Updating is simple, just open the App Store app and download Mavericks. It’s a huge update – 5.29 GB. The worst part is that, it might actually throw an error in middle and you have to start from scratch again.
My OS X download failed over 4 times, and after a few tries it worked finally. This is because of excess load on Apple’s servers and there’s hardly anything we can do about it.
One small tip though, is that, if the App Store app throws an error saying ‘Download has failed’ or anything like that – open Finder, go to /Applications and look for OS X Mavericks.appdownload. If it exists, launch it. The download should now resume.
This might come as a surprise to some of you Apple/Mac enthusiasts. According to Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac, Apple is not going to release the final version of OS X Mavericks on 10th September.
A few days back, Apple has confirmed their special event on September 10th, where in they’re going to release the long rumored iPhone 5C aka the cheaper iPhone and iPhone 5S. While the iPhones will suck all the limelight, that doesn’t mean Apple’s going to not care about Macs.
As the rumor suggests, Apple will probably host a special event just for unveiling all Mac related stuff. This includes the all new Mac Pro, OS X Mavericks and Haswell-powered MacBook Pros. Not to forget, Apple also has to share its earning report for Q4. So it seems all this is perfectly aligned.