Apple’s next OS X update is Yosemite, and it looks a lot like iOS

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WWDC is now officially happening, with Apple’s big keynote starting the festivities. Tim Cook took to the stage to update developers on how great things are, and then handed the mic to Craig Federighi. It looks like first out of the announcement list is a big update to OS X, and with a big update comes a new name. Say goodbye to Mavericks and hello to Yosemite.

Apple’s next version of OS X takes what is already a beautiful desktop OS and adds a lot of the flair from the visual tricks we saw in the latest version of iOS. This means translucent bars and panels that allow you to feel depth. The icons have a very iOS look and feel as well, shifting to simple icons that lack the faux realness of the previous generations.

If you’re not a fan of the glossy translucence, you can shift it into the “dark” mode that is included in Yosemite. The new control center is exactly what you would expect to see if you were to pull notification center from your iPad and paste is onto OS X, which is good news if you’re a fan of that setup on your phone.

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Outside of the visual tricks, there’s a few structural changes that make things like Spotlight and Notification Center work well with the extended space offered by a Desktop experience. Spotlight now floats in the center of the screen and takes focus away from whatever you are doing, which makes sense if you routinely hotkey spotlight, and it will take you away to the rest of the OS just like the current Spotlight would. There’s a ton of extra content available in Spotlight now, pulling from several content sources without needing to shift over to apps. Notification Center now lets you add widgets into Today view so it actually makes use of the extra space if you don’t have a busy schedule.

Individual, core apps have gotten some impressive updates as well. Apple has made some changed to iCloud with what they are now calling iCloud Drive. This service places several folders on your Mac that can be synced across iOS, Windows, and any other OSX devices. The Mail app now automatically uses iCloud for secure image transfers, so if the content you are trying to send is too large for an email client it will automatically make an iCloud link for you. Safari has ditched the URL bar for a smart search bar that includes Spotlight access, which looks ever so similar to the Chrome Omnibar. There’s a new UI for tabs that you have stored, and a new UI for private browsing as well. It also looks like Safari has been overhauled for better HTML 5 support as well, which Apple says will be good for battery life.

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Possibly the biggest features for OS X falls across what Apple is now calling Continuity. The ability to work between Desktop devices and mobile devices is often a challenge, and Apple seems to have created a proximity system that allows you to share activities across devices. This includes SMS and phone calls, emails, and browsers. The ability to receive phone calls from your phone through your laptop is the best example of this technology, and in the demonstration there was a phone across the room and Apple’s Handoff relayed the call over to the laptop. Naturally this will only work across Apple devices, but it creates an incredibly compelling reason to go all Apple.

The developer preview for OS X Yosemite is available later today, alongside a public beta program that starts up this Summer that will give you access to the OS before it is officially available in the Fall. When it finally drops in the Fall, the release will be completely free.

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