SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple announced the next version of Mac OS X today at the keynote for WWDC 2013. Named Mavericks, Mac OS X 10.9 brings more iOS features into the fold along with other tweaks including iBooks, Apple Maps, Finder Tabs, and a number of other time-saving enhancements.
Finder Tabs The new Finder Tabs work much in the same way they do in Safari. A plus sign button on the right lets you open a new tab, and you can drag and drop tabs just like in a Web browser. You could have one tab for AirDrop and another for documents then drag-and-drop files between each. Finder Windows can be expanded to full-screen mode as well.
Apple MapsFull-screen apps Full-screen apps were unveiled originally in Lion, but users quickly realized the feature wasn't perfect, especially if you use multiple monitors. Fortunately with Mavericks, the feature now works the way it should. You can now put full-screen apps on multiple monitors and switch among them effortlessly. This was a much-needed fix for two years now, so it's good to see the problems ironed out, but I have to wonder why Apple waited so long to do it.
Apple Maps got off to a rocky start with iOS, but has improved considerably over time. Now, you'll also be able to use Apple Maps on your Mac then sync to your other devices. This will be especially useful for finding directions at home, then quickly syncing to your iPhone for turn-by-turn directions when you hit the road. Apple Maps is built into Mail, Contacts, and the Calendar app, too so anytime you see an address you can quickly find it on a map as well.
iBooks As one of the features brought over from iOS devices, iBooks is pretty close to its mobile counterpart. You'll now be able to read and shop for books on your Mac and sync them to iCloud so you can switch devices and never lose your place. You also can swipe to turn pages (on your trackpad), pinch to zoom into pictures, and scroll smoothly from page to page. You can have as many books open as you want simultaneously (great for students), and you can highlight sections and take notes -- all of which are synced to your iOS devices. The app seems to work pretty much as it does on iOS, but it's good to finally see it available for Mac users.
Safari According to Apple, Safari now uses less GPU, less energy, and is faster than ever before. Apple says new Nitro Tiered JIT and Fast Start technologies in Safari mean Web pages feel snappier and the app doesn't waste power on Web pages and plug-ins that might churn continuously in the background. We like the sound of that, but will have to wait and see if it really makes a difference when we get some hands-on time.
Bringing Apple Maps to Macs means you can search for a restaurant on your computer, then transfer the turn-by-turn directions to your phone for easy access when you hit the road.
A new sidebar keeps your bookmarks close at hand, and you can use tabs in the sidebar to get to your Reading List and another new feature called Shared Links. Shared links are recent links from people you follow on both Twitter and LinkedIn, ostensibly giving you another option for discovering new Web sites and other interesting content.
One of the more interesting new features is the Top Sites screen where there's a new column for all your bookmarks. If you want to change your Top Sites, you can now drag a bookmark from your side column wherever you want it in Top Sites to keep it handy.
Calendar The Calendar app got a fresh new look in Mavericks, adding Facebook integration to show Facebook events along with an Event Inspector that lets you get more information about a party, meeting, or location.
Now you can mouse over an event to bring up the inspector, where you'll find handy information like driving time to the event with traffic info supplied by Maps and current weather at the event location.
The interface has also been tweaked to include smooth, continuous scrolling between days, weeks, and months.
iBooks works almost exactly like it does on iOS, letting you read and shop for books on your Mac.
Notifications The Notifications system got some tweaks as well. Notifications are now interactive, so if you receive a message, an e-mail, or a FaceTime video call, you can react within the notification window with a reply or launch FaceTime straight away.
You can also allow Web sites to send you updates like the latest scores, breaking news stories, and more via Notifications even when Safari is closed.
When you return to your Mac when it's in a sleeping state, you'll now get all the notifications you received while you were gone in a brief summary before unlocking your screen. This means it will combine messages to show you had 6 new messages, for example, and it will tell you the number of e-mails you missed while away.
Mavericks will also update your apps automatically and let you know via notifications when the process is complete.
Pricing and availability Apple says Mavericks will become available this fall, which is a departure from its release schedule from the last few years; Apple has followed a fairly regular schedule for OS X releases, with the announcement of a new Mac OS in February, and then the release date announced during the WWDC keynote (with an actual release soon to follow).
This year, there was no announcement in the early part of the year, but a report form Daring Fireball said that Apple had pulled developers from the OS X team to work on the big changes in iOS 7, pushing the Mac OS X release to later in the year.