A designer’s thoughts on the new 5K iMac and OS X Yosemite

The latest launch from Apple saw them release a whole raft of new products including the iMac with 5K Retina display, Mac mini and a new iPad range, as well as the general release of OS X Yosemite.

For architects and designers, the updated iMac should be of particular interest, but is it enough to make them stand up and take notice, or even upgrade their previous trusty workstation? I’ve had chance to use both the 5K iMac with Retina display, as well as Yosemite, for a while now. Here are my initial thoughts…

New 5K iMac with Retina display

Firstly, with regards to the 5k iMac and that new screen – it’s a stunner. Images are much crisper, colours more vibrant, and there’s an increased level of detail to everything. Even text looks a damn sight better on it! Previously, when I was working on my MacBook Pro with Retina display, then came to the same composition on my non-Retina iMac, the difference was marked. Things didn’t look nearly as sharp, and it felt like the display was older than it was. But now, I can carry on editing with the same Retina clarity on both machines, which is a massive bonus for my workflow.

One of the obvious benefits is that, in a world where digital content is becoming a mobile-first medium, and with smartphones and tablets getting higher and higher resolution screens, it’s an advantage to work on a display that can natively see the content in a resolution similar to that of a smartphone. Very handy for making sure my digital work is optimised for mobile. Another thing to mention is the size – the 5k iMac’s 27″ screen is ideal if you want more screen real estate so you have a larger workspace to fit your toolbars, and work on the content itself.

Should I upgrade to the new 5K iMac?
For the kind of web design work I do day-in, day-out, the Retina display has seriously won me over. But, if your workflow relies on colour accuracy, you’ll still require a higher level colour critical display that has been designed specifically with this in mind.
OS X Yosemite

I’ve been using the new iOS 7-inspired Yosemite since beta days on my MacBook Pro with Retina display, and have also used it on my iMac for the past few weeks or so since its release.

Continuity is great on a day to day basis if your device supports it; starting work on my MacBook Pro and then throwing it over to my iMac when I get there has obvious workflow benefits. My iPad currently does not support Continuity, unfortunately. More importantly for my daily work, the Adobe Creative Cloud suite does not currently support Continuity either. As it has to be coded into each app, it may take time for this to be implemented, so at the moment it’s pretty much a moot point in terms of real digital creativity across devices.

Handoff in general is great. I love being able to answer calls and SMS messages on my Mac, and still be in reach to contact while my phone can be somewhere in the house. Toolbars have had a bit of an update too. In apps where the ‘traffic lights’ sit alongside the buttons opposed to above them (Safari, System Preferences, iTunes and App Store are the main ones off the top of my head), and the additional 30px or so is nice.

The real killer for me was going to be iCloud Drive. I use a Dropbox Pro account personally and was excited by the prospect of iCloud Drive’s size and cost, and the ability to sync settings and databases (for 1Password, etc) between devices. I’ve now upped my iCloud Drive storage, which I’ve primarily marked out for the iCloud Photo Library when it rolls around for OS X.

What I’ve been really impressed by is the new Spotlight, which is fantastic. Being able to search for definitions, conversions, calculations and pretty much anything on the web with just a keystroke is pretty awesome. To be fair, I pretty much launch all my apps through Spotlight, as I can get to them quicker than putting down my pen, reaching for my mouse, opening Finder and then the app, so this is a big deal in terms of efficiency for me.

OS X Yosemite also comes with new developer tools SpriteKit and SceneKit, and the new Swift programming language. These may not have been trumpeted to the same degree as some of the new features, but judging by our own dev team’s excited chatter these will be relevant for developers in creative teams.

Should I upgrade to OS X Yosemite?

Aside from the headline feature, the new look interface, the few major new features Yosemite brings to the table are great. Truth be told, it hasn’t had too much of a major effect on my actual design workflow in any respect, but what updates there have been have been refreshing, with some beneficial changes to how I go about certain tasks and processes.

If you’re worried about compatibility, that shouldn’t be a problem. Adobe have confirmed Creative Cloud is compatible with Yosemite, and I’ve been using it for weeks without a hitch. Extensis Suitcase Fusion 6 is also compatible, and Quark have just announced that next year’s QuarkXPress 2015 will be too, so no problem there. As a completely free update, I’d certainly suggest it to all Mac users. To read a more comprehensive list of apps compatible with Yosemite click here.

iMac with Retina display on Jigsaw24

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Jamie S
Jamie S
Call us: 03332 409 306

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