The latest version of Apple’s operating system, OS X Mavericks, is now here, bringing with it a pile of new features that we think will be great for the classroom.
As well as iBooks and Maps now making their way from iOS to desktop Macs, there’s better collaboration with iCloud and updates to keep you productive. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing (Apple have announced all future operating system updates will also be completely free of charge). I’ve picked out some of the most useful updates that make OS X Mavericks an essential update for your classroom Macs.
Possibly the biggest change for education users is that you can now use iBooks on your Mac. iBooks syncs with your mobile devices to bring across notes and bookmarks, and pick up reading where you left off. There are over 2 million titles in the iBooks store, and you can also view and access your school’s own created textbooks on your Mac after you’ve created them in iBooks Author.
An all new iWork suite of productivity apps for Mac and iOS makes creating, editing and sharing documents easier than ever. Using a unified file format, there’s better compatibility between Mac, iOS and iCloud, and the iWork for iCloud beta now includes support for real-time collaboration. Create your document on iPad, edit it on your Mac and then share in iWork for iCloud, even with PC users.
Apple have given the iWork interface a bit of an overhaul too, making it simpler to use, but still providing all of the powerful tools you need to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations in Pages, Numbers and Keynote.
For anyone who uses two screens (for video editing in the media lab, for example), there’s now more flexibility over what you can do with the Multiple Displays options. Run an app in full screen on each display, have multiple windows on one screen and a full screen app on the other, or access the dock from wherever you choose.
Another new update is the addition of the Maps app to OS X. This uses the full power of your Mac’s graphics capability to create a photorealistic 3D experience which complements your route planner. Where we can see this being really handy is for creating lesson plans in modern foreign languages – for example using Maps on the Mac to give directions around a remote town in rural France in French!
With OS X Mavericks, you can now access Notifications and reply to them without ever having to leave the app that you’re in, which makes multitasking much easier, and also means you’re not going to miss any important staff emails while you’re putting a presentation together!
Tabs and Tags
Finder now includes even better tools for organising your work. You can add Tags (such as ‘history’, ‘Henry VIII’ etc) to content to bring it up in Finder search results, and there’s the ability to open Tabs so you can search for different files or applications without having to open new windows.
New Shared Links and Top Sites features in Safari are big news because they allow you to easily organise your favourite sites and directly visit URLs linked to on Twitter. There’s also improved speed and performance, with Safari now 1.44 times faster than Chrome and 1.17 times faster than Firefox, yet still managing to use far less energy than both!
The OS X Calendar has had a complete facelift! Aside from a simpler and easier to use interface, there’s a new Inspector tool that looks at your agenda and tells you estimated travel times and local forecasts, which might just mean you beat that morning rush (no promises!).