PC Advisor reviews OS X Yosemite for Mac: Impressive improvements tainted by issues with Continuity

“The successor to OS X Mavericks and the second iteration in Apple’s current California places naming convention, Yosemite has a new design, new cloud features, an improved Notification centre and new Continuity features that aim to improve the communication between your iOS device and your Mac (but it doesn’t always work),” Ashleigh Allsopp writes for PC Advisor. “We love the new Notification Centre in OS X Yosemite, which has been significantly improved upon since OS X Mavericks… We think that Notification Centre will soon replace the Dashboard, a feature that was introduced to OS X in 2005 when Tiger was released. For now, Dashboard remains, offering access to similar widgets as those found in the Notification Centre. Spotlight is another feature that came to the Mac with OS X Tiger, and has been a real boon to Mac users ever since. Now, in Yosemite, it’s more useful than ever, allowing users to not only search for files and applications on their Mac, but also news headlines, maps, the App Store, iTunes, Wikipedia and Microsoft Bing (not Google, of course. Microsoft is the lesser of the two evils apparently) for web search.”

“Another one of our favourite new features in Yosemite, and one we’ve found to work really well, is iCloud Drive. It’s Apple’s answer to Dropbox, allowing you to save and store files including presentations, spreadsheets, PDFs, images and any other file smaller than 15GB in iCloud, which are then accessible from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or even PC. It’s also accessible via the browser, by visiting iCloud.com and logging in,” Allsopp writes. “Right now, iCloud Drive isn’t a way to share documents and files with colleagues or friends (you can use Mail Drop for that), but we suspect that Apple is working to make iCloud Drive even more useful in the future.”

“When Apple first announced that AirDrop would finally work between iOS and Mac, we were jumping for joy.,” Allsopp writes. “But, we actually had so much trouble trying to get OS X Yosemite [AirDrop] to work that it drove us round the bend. It did work, eventually, though not particularly reliably, but the point is that not everyone is going to go to as much effort to get it fixed as we did. In fact, if we hadn’t been trying it for the purpose of this review, we would have given up on it long ago… AirDrop between iOS and Mac is a step in the right direction, but right now it’s in need of some serious improvements so is a bit of a let down for us… Similarly, Handoff is a feature that got us excited when OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 were first unveiled… However, just like with AirDrop our experience with Handoff so far has been far from satisfactory. It seems to work better from iPhone to Mac than the other way around, with prompts appearing when we approached our Mac while writing an email in our iCloud account, but not appearing on the iPhone when we wanted to pick things up there and head out.”

Allsopp write, “As it’s a free upgrade, we’d recommend it to all OS X users if your machine is compatible, though we would advise waiting until the OS X 10.10.1 update is available if you’re using a MacBook because there have been some reports of WiFi issues with the current version that should be resolved by that update.

Much more in the full review here.

34 Comments

    1. Agree; change is good? Good change is good change, bad change is bad change and you have to know the difference.

      I like Yosemite generally. But I just have to wonder if Jonathan Ive had some traumatic childhood experience with high contrast images, or bold type, or anything but flat colors. He has just taken it a few steps too far, nothing wrong with a little visual contrast on controls and type.
      The visual look reminds me of one of those chalk white women who never get any sun, just dont look healthy to me.

      But to the general point: Have been on Mac since 1988, so I have enough experience to make a judgement. In the last 3-4 years, there is no doubt in my mind that things are not working as well as they did previously, more so in iOS which seems to bring as many new bugs as it removes with every iteration.

      I use both OSX and IOS, 3 devices, but if I really documented the issues that come up every day, things that take 10 seconds here, 2 minutes there, I might be very surprised and not too happy.

      If they were ask me, and they won’t, I would say two things, back off on the obsessive need to put out new versions just to have something different. Different is good when its better, but bad when it causes a new set of issues. Second, be careful with how far you move OSX toward iOS, both functionally and visually. Don’t screw with the functionality of OSX because without OSX to create content, you don’t have anything in iOS that differentiates it from being just a phone.

      There is a movie out there called A Bridge Too Far, based upon a battle in WWII. It should make you think, and the same thing happens millions of times a day, not just in war and computer hardware and software design, but in almost everything we do when we believe in change for the sake of change.

      Some of you will call me an old fogey or something. Do I care? Of course not.

      1. kentkd34: Isn’t it scary to know the obvious and wonder why just about no one else knows it?

        Good change is good. Bad change is bad. DUH. Judgement of good and bad is certainly subjective, but what an idiotic phrase: “Change is good”. It’s another one of those litmus tests for stupid handed to us in life.

        Back to Apple: Version 1.0 Syndrome lives on forever. Yosemite has its own ‘special’ Version 1.0 Syndrome so far that has lead me to stick with excellent Mavericks for the time being (albeit that I have Yosemite boot volumes on all my compatible Macs). Yosemite will get better with time. And I will be using GUI altering apps to undo the stupider Yosemite GUI changes while I wait for some REAL superior improvements to the OS X GUI, not just some flat, flatter, flattest artistic judgement worthy of a kindergartener being shoved down our eyeballs. Sorry Mr. Ives, but you’re no GUI maven.

          1. In particular, I’m waiting for Flavours version 2.0. The developer has the project under way but has no ETA. It’s the most promising application, judging from the fun stuff they did in Flavours v1.x.

            I’ve been playing around with Path Finder 7, but it sticks with the basic simplified Yosemite GUI. You can change the default font for various aspects of the GUI. I expect there will be freeware that can do that as well. (Onyx?) I just haven’t played with them yet.

            It’s still early in the availability of Yosemite appearance applications. Meanwhile, I’m working around the oddities that bother me. I wrote up an article about working around the lack of Title Bar in Safari 8. It’s not a problem unless you’re in power user mode and have a pile of running Safari extensions. They the gray area at the top of the Safari window is literally GONE and you’re left wondering where you’re supposed to click and drag the window around, etc.

            No Safari Title Bar
            In OS X 10.10 Yosemite?!?!
            –> A Quick Workaround

      2. Very well said.
        One objection against some recent changes is that new elements are sometimes unintuive or hard to discover. I also use macs since 87 (currently we have 2 Macs, 2 iPhones en 2 iPads). The various non-interoperable incarnations of iCloud and hard-to-understand appleID options (and optimal roadmap) are *very* underdocumented, and hard to understand even (maybe especially) for die-hards. The result is that we use less and less of the new features, rather than being empowered. Apple just assumes that people own the very latest edition of all their devices. This simply isn’t true.

    1. My involvement with the OS X beta has shown me that A LOT of these oddball problems are specific to hardware specifications. Not all Macs are made alike by any means. Even within the same spec for a piece of hardware, there can be varying components. One early component is replaced with something superior within a run of a Wi-Fi board, for example. So those stuck with the early component end up NOT having their hardware adequately represented in the testing. Therefore, they get screwed with incompatibility problems.

      Clearly Apple does NOT have every variation of every Yosemite compatible Mac on hand. So when someone with one of these variations sends in a beta report to Apple (picture me doing this with my 2011 Mac Mini), Apple sits around wondering what I’m talking about, focuses on more immediate issues, then gets around to asking for ‘more information’ several weeks later, after the broken iteration of the OS X beta is dead and gone and the problem requires new testing. The result is an incoherent testing situation where garbage slips through the cracks.

      My general opinion: Software development these days is WELL beyond the comprehension of any one human being, particularly massive software projects like an operating system. Therefore, pieces end up shoved together (aka object-oriented programming) and they don’t always fit. And of course some pieces are of higher quality and are better tested than others. On and on, resulting in inevitable CLUNK factors.

      And we think we’re going to invent REAL ‘artificial intelligence’. HA! We can’t even master our own intelligence. 😛

      1. You said, “Clearly Apple does NOT have every variation of every Yosemite compatible Mac on hand.”

        Why not? Maybe they should call the manufacturer and see if they can get some loaners.

  1. I agree with some of kentkd34’s points above.

    I haven’t encountered any WiFi issues or other bugs, and I tend to use my iPhone and Macs as separate systems, so no problems there either. The new OS is faster, particularly at startup and shutdown.

    But I do have reservations about Yosemite. I prefer the appearance of folders and the dock compared to Mavericks, but still don’t like the flat look of the window buttons. My biggest gripe is with the font selection. The tab type is too spindly, small, and hard to read in Safari on my 27” iMac, and I’m playing with Firefox and (gasp!) Chrome to see if they help. I’ve even toyed with reinstalling Mavericks from my copy on a USB stick, but it would require a clean install, which takes forever.

    Overall, I’m starting to join the subset of Mac users who think that Jony is a genius at hardware design, but gets it wrong too often when he stamps his mark on the Mac software interface. The flat look doesn’t always work.

    Oh yeah, before I forget — the requisite declaration of fanboyism: I’ve been a Mac user since 1985.

    1. I have an Airport Extreme (5th gen) feeding an old Express unit (802.11g) for AirTunes. Airport Utility 6.0 dropped support for the Express, but I could still use 5.6….until Yosemite broke 5.6 which means I have to fire up an old iMac G4 to run 5.6.

      It’s the little things, Apple. What good is it to build great hardware if you hobble it by killing its software?

      1. I also ran into Airport Utility problems with my old Airport Extreme – Airport Express setup under Mavericks, and ended up shelling out for a new Extreme. That’s maybe why I haven’t encountered Wi-Fi problems under Yosemite.

      2. TowerTone said, “What good is it to build great hardware if you hobble it by killing its software?”

        Just for giggles, go to Netcraft.com. Put “apple.com” and “iCloud.com” in the box, and find out what operating system they are running on.

    1. I have isolated this down to something as simple as multiple downloads within Safari. If I download one PDF at a time, the system will work forever. If I pick two, it will choke within five minutes and all Wi-Fi will stop until I reboot. I am not certain exactly what pieces are involved, but I hope that might be information to help someone figure it out and let Apple know. They are unwilling to admit there is even a problem.

  2. Handoff/Continuity is working fine on my early ’14 MBA thankfully. They were the features that turned me on to Apple back in July and I am so happy to make the break away from Windows. I have had a couple of problems such as Safari crashing on some websites (not this one) and I installed cDock to get the 3D effect back on the dock though it still has the flat icons.

  3. I installed Yosemite. It has a 1960s retro Saturday-morning-cartoon look with extraterrestrial colors. Most of the icons were the same as in Mavericks, minus some detail plus color changes. I went into the packages of every application, prefpane, and the coretypes.bundle in Mavericks, made copies of the icons in contents/resources, and put them in the corresponding places in Yosemite. The result was a huge improvement in readability, usability, and even just visibility. But Yosemite was still like eating matzoh bread with stale beer—too flat.

    Yosemite still has the “out of application” errors that Mavericks pioneered, and Yosemite’s mail app has a number of quirks that Apple won’t clear up any time soon, since they don’t use it. (They use Outlook.) Safari had some problems rendering web sites. The screen saver wasn’t responsive and Yosemite kept renaming the computer. Apple can’t possibly be using Yosemite in their business, and if they aren’t using it, why should I?

    I reverted to Mavericks. (I rebooted with CMD+R and installed from the Time Machine). It feels like an upgrade.

    So much for my two-week dalliance with Yosemite.

  4. Just read the reviews on the Mac App Store.

    Last Friday 80% of most recent 100 reviews were negative.

    The previous Friday 70% of the most recent 100 reviews were negative.

    The Friday before that had the same ratio.

    First, Apple needs to fix the bugs ASAP. (Incidentally many of these bugs were reported during the beta test yet remain unfixed.)

    Here are the features I wish Yosemite had.

    Ability to customize OSX in the following ways:

    Ability to change Dock color, and Finder Sidebar colors if transparency is turned off.

    Ability to set which items are transparent or not.

    Optional larger font size for the Menu bar. (This is becoming a big issue with potential switchers.)

    Option to set the default behavior of the “Green Button”. Personally I wish I could set it to open full window and not full screen. Why? Quick access to the Menu bar and the Dock are important to me. In addition, I don’t like the delay switching between full screen and non full screen.

    Option to set the default screen size upon opening an app. This option could be placed in Get Info. I suggest three options – Full Screen, Full Window, Windowed.

    It would be so nice not to have to rearrange the app each time I open it.

    Arrow Snap – Microsoft’s best contribution to graphical computing (for arranging windows side by size on the screen).

    1. @Arrow Snap — There is a definite disadvantage to have a screenful of abutting boxes.
      – it looks like a spacecraft control panel in a bad 1970s sci-fi movie
      – it becomes hard to discern where the info from one app ends and another begins

      Random/flexible positioning of windows (with limited abutting acceptable, e.g., for toolbars (although OSX has sideways drawers)) carries information about the relationships of things that shouldn’t be underestimated.

      1. Just asking for an option to turn on something similar to Aero Snap. This feature is incredibly popular with former Windows clients.

        I am aware there are some 3rd party options but the more 3rd party options that have to be installed the less likely the client is to switch to a Mac.

      2. what one person likes, does NOT mean everyone likes it.

        Took me a second to figure out what Aero snap is.. Don’t use Windows much.
        On my iMac I always have multiple open windows/boxes at the same time. Finder I tend to have a 2 or 3rd tab, but not always.
        I never have any problem distinguishing between two apps..

        If Apple had that as an option.. i don’t see the problem. Don’t force everyone to use it, just give them the option.

    2. cDock
      DockMod

      Both work to change the dock, currently running a gloss Black 3D old style dock 🙂
      cDock also colors the sidebar items, for some reason downloads and iCloud Drive show up blank, cDock guys say it’s not the app.

      The transparency stuff.. Yeah Apple needs to let us select what we want transparent. Or a 3rd party will create an App to let us have control.

      The flat crap route Apple/Ives have gone down.. i’ve replaced all my icons with non flat ones.

      Yosemite works fine for me, but the “design” aspect needs serious work.
      Was at the Apple Store today dropping off my 2011 iMac to get the graphics card replaced (free, is a recall issue) And was showing my mother the new Macbook Air’s (2nd reason to go there today) first thing she said was she didn’t like how everything looked flat, the lady next to her jumped in and said she agreed. One of the sales guys heard them and decided to explain how it’s better.. He got his butt kicked (verbally) by both. The other lady said she seen this pastel/flat look back in the 80’s, and was not happy to see it again. lol.

  5. I’ve been using Yosemite since it was released, and I’ve had few of the problems mentioned here. In fact, I’ve been a beta tester for the past 4 o5 OS X releases and Yosemite does not come across as more problematic than other new releases. I’ve had some minor issues with it, but I have found it remarkably stable and solid.

    I also have no problem with the aesthetics, for the most part it’s a big improvement over Mavericks in terms of ergonomics and functional design improvements. I really like where Ive is taking this in terms of ‘flatness’, and I like the new typography as well. What I think he’s trying to do is to make the software and hardware meld into one another, that they become a holistic one rather than a ‘display’ with an unrelated OS churning away. He’s moving us away from the “TV” syndrome.

    This may be a generational thing, since most of the negative comments here seem to be coming from old-timers who prefer the way things were.

    1. I don’t think it’s as simple as a “generational thing”. Many younger users are unhappy with the flat look. Nor is it fair to write off us older users as “old timers”, resistant to change. I’ve been using computers since the PDP-1123, had one on my desk (starting with an Altos running 8 bit CPM) since 1983, and swapped to a Mac in 1985. That means I adapted to numerous changes in hardware, software and user interfaces, and I’m happy to continue to do so, as long as those changes are for the better.

      “For the better” is the issue here, and we’re talking specifically about the GUI. Not everything Apple has tried in this regard has worked. Remember the striped menus in early versions of OS X? And some of the excesses of skeuomorphism — green velvet, ring binders, leatherwork — undoubtedly sucked. But, with respect to Jony’s flat look, I tend to agree with kentkd’s opinion that some aspects at least are “a bridge too far”. And using fonts that many users find difficult to read (and I’m not alone here — many forums are buzzing with this one) is a pretty fundamental mistake.

      To suggest that Jony has opted for a flat look to provide a seamless connection between hardware and software is drawing rather a long bow. That implies that some radically different OS or GUI wouldn’t look right on my new iMac. It could well look better, at least to me.

      I’m pleased that Yosemite’s look works for you. It doesn’t for others. A possible solution, suggested many times already, would be for Apple to give users more ability to tweak button and icon “roundedness”, colour contrast, and font size, without having to revert to third party hacks.

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