One welcome side effect of Apple releasing a new version of OS X—as it did yesterday by rolling out the OS X 10.10 “Yosemite” update to Mac users—is that the world gets another comprehensive OS review from Ars Technica’s John Siracusa. With a style that combines deep technical expertise with approachable prose, Siracusa’s OS reviews are about more than mere pros and cons. In his just-posted Yosemite review, Siracusa goes beyond superficial changes to explore the philosophies behind the software—picking out important details to discern how Apple thinks about the relationship between the user and the computer (and, increasingly, the cloud). He also contextualizes the latest innovations in the context of Apple’s wider software-development history:
To signal the Mac’s newfound confidence, Apple has traded 10.9’s obscure surfing location for one of the best known and most beautiful national parks: Yosemite. The new OS’s headline feature is one that’s sure to make for a noteworthy chapter in the annals of OS X: an all-new user interface appearance. Of course, this change comes a year after iOS got its extreme makeover.
Ah, the old tension: which platform does Apple love more? iOS continues to dominate Apple’s business in terms of unit sales, revenue, and profits. Last year, some Apple watchers had openly wondered whether Apple would even bother updating the look of OS X. And yet for the past several years, Apple has loudly and publicly insisted that it remains committed to the Mac as a strong, independent platform. Yosemite aims to fulfill that commitment—but in an interesting way.
Non-developers might drift off a bit when Siracusa gets into details of Apple’s new programming interfaces, but it’s easy enough to bypass those sections, as the review is meticulously organized. Even if you skip a chapter or two, Siracusa’s latest opus is a pleasurable and illuminating weekend read for tech enthusiasts.