OS X Yosemite Features Explained and Ranked

| Editorial

As with all OS X releases, Apple has added plenty of new features. How do these features rank in terms of usefulness and likely wide adoption? Which ones will become signature features? I'll size them up from my own perspective.


New OS X features exist in a spectrum. The OS change can range from a under the hood improvements to UI cleanup to improving functionality to an outright new feature. Sometimes the feature is minor, and sometimes it's a blockbuster.

For example, OS X 10.9 Mavericks brough us App Nap and Compressed memory under the hood. Contacts and iCal brought a new look and feel. Multiple Displays tweaked and improved the functionality. Calendar brought integration to Maps. Finally, Apple brought Maps and Tags to the OS.

Sometimes, the improvements just sort of glide by without too much focus, and they're there when you need them or go look for a solution. They're so obscure, they need a TMO Quick Tip. However, sometimes a new feature becomes the signature feature of the release.

Yosemite's Major Features

Here's a look at the interesting features of OS X 10.10 Yosemite. I'll grade the features from F to A based how useful I think they'll be (for me anyway) and how likely it is that it will become a signature feature. [The list is in no particular order.]

1. Phone calls (A). I think this will be a game changer for several reasons. My enthusiasm is based around the idea that when my iPhone rings, and it looks like I'm going to be on the phone for awhile, I ask the caller for a second to attach a headphone. Alternatively, the sense of separation and audio quality of the speakerphone isn't so great. Using the first class Yeti microphone and speakers of my Mac is the way to go.

Plus, when I'm in my recliner with the MacBook Air writing, and my iPhone is in another room, charging, I won't have to kick my cat off my legs, my MBA off my lap and go running. It'll be awesome.

2. SMS messages (C). I am not a huge user of SMS. I do use iMessage occasionally with other Apple friends, but I figure an SMS message from a non-iPhone can wait until I get to my iPhone. When I'm writing on my Mac, which is most of the time, I try to avoid distractions anyway.

And that brings up larger issue. When I'm working, I hate distractions. I have "Do Not Disturb" turned on for Notifications during writing hours. I do listen to iTunes for mood music and monitor our TMO chat room, but that's about it. And so I see SMS messages on the Mac as a pleasant and distracting tool for some, an annoyance for others.

3. Handoff (C). Having said all the above, you can probably imagine how I feel about starting an email on a Mac and continuing it on an iOS-device. I think that's just a sample use-case, and the real advantages will evolve and come to light later. It doesn't light me up.

Next: Features #4 Through #8.

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With regard to #5, John: I agree that Apple is slowly and steadily chipping away at Google’s search presence, and with this release they’re continuing that trend while simultaneously providing a win-win solution for the customer base.

I’ll also add: there’s an awesome new search feature in mobile Safari. Apparently you can now do shorthand searches (ie. “wiki george washington”, or “amazon nas”) that will let you bypass a search engine and go directly to the content you’re looking for on websites. I haven’t seen whether or not this will make it to the desktop, but I hope so. And it’s literally a dream come true for me! I’ve been pondering the possibility of browsers taking search directly to websites for at least the last few years… leave it to Apple to carve that path.


#3 Handoff could be huge, but if it has to use iCloud I’ll pass (it should use peer to peer wifi & bluetooth, privacy!!!). I’d love to be listening to an audio book/podcast walk out the door hop in my car and pick right up where I left off.


I’m not thrilled with #5.  If it was limited to Safari I wouldn’t mind, but the idea that Spotlight the tool I use for LOCAL TO MY SYSTEM searches will now run off to the internet every time I look for a local document or application feels creepy.

I’m not sure why everyone is so excited about it.  Will Apple give me Wikipedia or WebMD links if I happen to search for a document “Cold” or will it bring up HR block if I search for “Tax Documents” ?


@mouring good point, lots of potential creepiness there. A private search option by adding “local” to the beginning or a check box would be good.

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