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Longer surfing, messaging and calls on your desktop: why Yosemite's got the (OS)X Factor

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Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi showcases Yosemite in San Francisco.

Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi showcases Yosemite in San Francisco.

Apple imac

Apple imac

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Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi showcases Yosemite in San Francisco.

After redesigning its mobile software and releasing new iPhones and iPads, Apple has turned its attention to the desktop. Released in mid-October and updated again this week, Yosemite is available for free download, and brings in a range of new features and connectivity to other Apple devices.

When's it out?

OS X Yosemite v10.10.1 is out now, and can be downloaded from the Mac App Store.

How much will it cost?

Like Apple's last update, Mac OS X Mavericks, Yosemite is free to download. Apple iOS 8.1 is also a free upgrade, and both updates require you to back up devices first.

What does it look like?

The outward appearance represents a major overhaul for OS X, similar to the one iOS 7 brought to the iPhone and iPad. The design touches of Mavericks and its predecssors have been replaced by clean lines and translucent windows, showing a move towards the equally minimal design of iOS 8.1.

Key features: what it can do?

Upgraded notifications

Heavily influenced by the user interface of iOS 8, Yosemite features an all-new notification centre. Much like iOS 8, swiping from the right hand side of your trackpad will now bring up a Today view, with all your engagements for the day, as well as the weather. Replacing the Dashboard screen, Yosemite now lets you add widgets into your notification centre, echoing the look and workflow of its mobile counterpart.

Super Spotlight

The release of iOS 8 saw Spotlight gain unprecedented power, with your searches pulling in information from both your mobile device and the internet. Yosemite brings similar power to the desktop, offering results from across the web and our hard drive. So the upgraded Spotlight could become the only search window you ever use.

Streamlined Safari

The updated browser shows more of the net than ever before, with a new, slimline toolbar. With decluttered design, the address bar is front and centre, and even features more powerful, Spotlight intergrated searching. Despite the new look, Favourites haven't disappeared altogether: clicking the search bar will reveal a pane of your favourite sites - much like on iOS 8. Safari also packs in native support for Netflix and improves effciency, so it's possible to squeeze in an extra two-three hours of surfing compared to other browsers.

Mega Mail

As well as a cleaner, more intuitive interface, Apple Mail now lets users send email attachements of up to 5Gb. Thanks to Mail Drop, adding large attachments is as simple as dragging files over to your email.

Family Sharing

After growing controversy due to In App Purchasing, Apple have increased the amount of parental control in Yosemite. It's now possible to create Apple IDs for younger children from your desktop, and approve or decline any of their purchases remotely.

Improved AirDrop

Another feature that helps bridge your mobile and desktop worlds, AirDrop gets a much needed upgrade in Yosemite. Instead of being limited to desktop to desktop and mobile to mobile transfers, the latest version of AirDrop allows you to transfer files between your Mac and iOS 8.1 iDevice. Just make sure Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are enabled on both.

iCloud Drive

Taking on other cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox, iCloud lets you see and manage content on the cloud. No longer hidden away in each application, your iCloud space now appears much like a extra drive in Finder. From there it's possible to manage content.

Handoff

One of the most exciting new features, this brings a new level of productivity across your Apple devices, allowing you to work on a document on one device, and continue where you left off on another. It uses the power of iCloud to make it even easier to work across devices. Now open to developers, Handoff is available for most Apple applications like Mail, Safari, Pages and Numbers - so you can put the finishing touches on your iPhone to an email you started on your mac.

Calls

With iOS 8 and Mavericks, you're now able to make answer and make calls on your Mac, all without picking up your iPhone.

If your phone and Mac are connected to the same wi-fi network, any incoming calls to your iPhone will be marked with a notification on your desktop. Complete with the contact's name and profile picture, you can answer calls with a click - even if your iPhone's charging in another room. Making calls is just as easy, and you only need to click on a contact to start a call.

Messages

Yosemite and iOS 8 now make it possible to get text messages on your desktop. Previously restricted to Apple iMessages just from other iDevices, the Messages desktop app is now able to send and receive SMS text messages - letting you text any mobile phone from your desktop. Much like on an iPhone, SMS text messages are displayed in green.

Hotspots

If you're not near a wi-fi connection, Yosemite and iOS 8 make tethering even easier. As long as your iPhone is within range, it's possible to use your iPhone's cellular signal to access the internet on your Mac via 3G or 4G. You're also able to see your iPhone's battery life, network signal and other stats.

Irish Independent