Apple's OS X Mavericks: Back on Sacred Ground

At WWDC, Apple's Craig Federighi walked us down a new, invigorated path for OS X. Instead of a adding gadgets and questionable features to the OS, fundamental improvements have been made that will make us more productive. Crazy things we complained about have been fixed. It's a great feeling.

As we watched the WWDC Keynote and Craig Federighi's demo of Mavericks, one thing became clear to the TMO staff. This was not a boring list of useless features, stuff only a few people will use, stuff shoved down our throats. Instead, we saw a makeover for the OS -- renewed emphasis on the utility of OS X.

Apple's Craig Federighi demos Mavericks at WWDC.

Many of the things we have been complaining about for a long time have been fixed, and fixed with style. The handling of full screen mode on multiple displays has been fixed. The Finder is now tabbed and tagged. Dragging multiple windows into a tabbed Finder is genius. Safari, which was suffering from old age and paralysis, has some sparking new features and handles bookmarks beautifully. Cocoatech's Path Finder and Mozilla's Firefox have just had a serious hand grenade of originality and technical invocation thrown at them.

Even better was Mr. Federighi's playfulness and spirit. He "gets" the Mac. He hasn't dragged us down a depressing path of iOS-ification. Rather, he's worked to marry OS X and iOS in a way that serves us better. The vision is inspiring instead of worrisome.

Sacred Ground

Back in March, I presented the case that an OS should serve and inspire the customer. In the article, "Apple’s OS X 10.9: a New Hope," I wrote:

It's fashionable nowadays in software development, thanks to the technologies of the Internet, to think about features that fulfill the needs of the developer, not the customer. That's, of course, because they make money. The temptation to use a modern OS that way is no different. But OSes are held to a higher standard and shouldn't be test beds for agendas; they should be sacred ground on which the developer wins over the customer."

And that is exactly what I think I saw during the demo of Mavericks. The emphasis was on fundamental technology improvements, leveraging the hardware, that make our daily lives better. This is the spirit of Apple being, aparently, renewed after a few years of depressing us mildly with agenda in Lion and Mountain Lion.

Plus, to see Mr. Federighi demonstrating both OS X and iOS 7, shows us that Mr. Cook's vision of collaboration has paid off. These devices are used by most all Apple customers in concert, so the vision for their use and interaction should be a work of collaboration but a single vision. The apparent isolated approach, attributed to Scott Forstall, has been repudiated by Mr. Cook and reversed, brought to fruition by Mr. Federighi.

The days of the big cats were great, but numbered. It's time to start fresh. The WWDC demo told that story well.