Apple’s OS X Mavericks: Back on Sacred Ground

| Analysis

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.



Watching the live keynote left me with a positive take on the direction of Mac OS. It really did show the separate but parallel paths of the desktop and mobile OS’s. The ability to connect and share between them is improving greatly with these updates.

I could make a list of things my wife was excited about and another that grabs me. I will wait to see how well it all works.


Actually, aside from a few quibbles, and a number of things I’ll want to see before I pass judgement on, I liked nearly everything I saw today. My only major complaint is that nearly none of it is available now. OK I know this is the developers conference so that’s par for the course but that doesn’t change one thing I Want It! I Want It! I Want It! I Want It! I Want It! I Want It NOW!


The new improvements to OS X sound cool, but I was hoping for more user-facing stuff. Maybe I’m still too used to the types of OS feature-fests that we got when OS X 10.4, 10.5 and 10.7 were released. (Though, honestly, a lot of those features ended up being silly, little tidbits that really didn’t amount to much.)

It’ll be interesting to see what (if anything) the background enhancements do for the performance and/or battery life of the 2009 MacBook Pro Fleetwood (17”) I use for work. My own Mac is a 2006/2007 Mac Pro, so it won’t even run OS X 10.8. Dangit! I so want to get a new Mac (13” Air, please).

John Dingler, artist

Hi John,
I was blown away by the beauty that the translucency of the top app provides, giving a unique visual experience at its every move, this, along with the over all redesign of the OS, the understated elegance of the App buttons, which, in my opinion, makes Windows 8 look stale, static, amateur, and even dour by comparison.

Regarding Mavericks,...when I first heard it, I though, great, opening the way to name the next OS Xs Rebels, Dissenter, Iconoclast, Crazy, SquarePegs, Revolutionary, Renegade, Insubordinate, Nonconformist, Iconoclast, etc., some of these concepts taken from that handsome B&W Apple commercial, the Crazy Ones. But then I looked at Maverick’s other definitions, Insurgent, Mutineer, Insurrectionist, Guerrilla, Terrorist, Freedom figher, which gave me pause. It should not have, but this is the state of US politics that Bush’s failure to protect America on 911 created which Obama is doubling down upon.

Even though beaches are countless—some not even named yet—, I bet that Apple will still run out of beaches before Apple goes out of business.

(Your notification tells me that what I attempt to post may be spam.)

Scott B in DC

My only problem is that name. I’m sure they could find more cat names. If not, find something other than “Mavericks.” It sounds so… well… IBM-ish!


As a surfer I loved the name!  All jesting aside I think it signals a good change In the OS direction.  Somehow I just can’t associate IBM and surf breaks!


Personally, i think this was one of the best Keynotes I have seen in years.

Tags, Finder Tabs, and improved Multi-monitor support are HUGE for me, and more than worth the update. OpenGL 4.0 is another exciting feature.  Very excited for Mavericks.

iOS 7 looks absolutely gorgeous. Very excited about that love the re-design (although not happy with the new Game Center icon. Everything is flat graphics, but game centre is cheesy samsung 3d colour bubbles? I don’t get it.)

I’ll be pitting a Haswell iMac against the Mac Pro later this year. Hopefully one (or both) will still have nVidia GPUs as an option.


There was a lot to love in this keynote. It’s great to see all the stuff they’ve been busy with, still knowing there’s a new iPhone in the works.
The direction they’re heading with iWork is great, but they need to open it up to non-Apple users, just like Google Docs. For iWork in the browser to flourish, anyone needs to be able to create an account and get going, not just people who own Apple products. Currently you need to have set up iCloud on a device before you can use the service at all. The thing that is key about Google Docs is that they are completely open and accessible to anyone. Until Apple matches this iWork will always be a quaint little backwater in the document universe.  (Google Docs has free universal access going for it, MS Office has ubiquity going for it, iWork really only has “it’s from Apple” going for it.)

Mike Kulpa

App Nap has me worried.  I run apps in the background so if say I’m rendering traps in the RIP trapping application while working on an InDesign file will there be a way to keep the trapping program running while InDesign is the foreground app? I hope so, or else this new OS won’t work for prepress.


For me, multiple monitor support (like the dock) was a big nod to pros who almost always have at least two monitors. It was a signal to me at least that Apple hadn’t abandoned everyone that doesn’t use a laptop. The new MacPro dovetailed nicely with the features in Mavericks as well.


The improved dual-monitor support might make Mavericks the first OS upgrade I purchase since Panther - Provided that my mid-2009 MBP is on the supported list…


@Mike I would guess that App Nap requires some opt-in from the app in question, though I haven’t looked at the APIs yet to confirm that. This would just be consistent with things like TAL where the ability to quit an app silently in the background if it’s not in use requires adopting the new API to opt-in.  If it’s not this way, then it’s probably the inverse where you can opt-out, like holding a power assertion keeps the computer from going to sleep.


Finally had a chance to go out to and check out the new look for OS-X and iOS7. I gotta say that after looking them over they strike me as kinda…boring. OK maybe the green felt, leatherette and stitching is a bit much but it’s so flat and featureless. I looked at the iOS Mail app and it’s really schematic. Not interesting at all. Not fun. Same goes for the OS-X Calendar App. It’s just colored squares with not a lot of definition for days and hours.

I can’t say I hate it. I’m just hoping there’s options for customizing the interface.

John Martellaro

Mike Kulpa:  Don’t worry. Answer is yes.

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