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10/4/2013
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Apple OS X Mavericks Goes Gold: 11 Major Features

Developers can download what is likely to become the commercial version of Apple's latest desktop OS. Here are the standout features.

5. Compressed Memory

Another under-the-hood feature, Compressed Memory will make your Mac faster. As its name suggests, it compresses data in memory for apps that aren't active. That leaves more memory for active apps, which tends to make them perform better. It also accelerates tasks such as waking from standby, which will make your Mac seem faster because you will spend less time waiting for it to be ready.

6. Multiple Screens

OS X Mavericks offers more flexibility in the use of multiple screens. Users can run windowed apps or full-screen apps in separate displays or together. The concept of a primary screen is gone and every screen gets its own menu bar and Dock automatically. You can even use an Apple TV-equipped television as a screen.

7. Tags

Tags are a way to associate metadata and a color icon with a specific file, via the Finder, iCloud or the app that created it. Apply the tag "Important" to a document and you can then search for that tag to find it and any other files that also bears that tag. Or use tags as a way to organize files in iCloud. Developers can integrate tags into their apps, too.

8. Safari Push Notifications

Websites can now be configured to send Safari users with OS X Mavericks push notifications, just like apps can. Safari doesn't need to be open to receive these messages. Safari Push Notifications are distinct from W3C standard Web Notifications, which are triggered using Javascript.

9. iCloud Keychain

iCloud Keychain can remember passwords for your various Apple devices as well as credit card information, to eliminate the burden of e-commerce checkout forms. Apple says it protects this information with "robust 256-bit AES encryption," without mentioning that it will open your lock when presented with a lawful demand to do so. That's written "robust*" -- note the asterisk. Perhaps the most useful aspect of iCloud Keychain is that it comes with a password generator, which ought to reduce the frequency with which passwords like "password" and "1234" are used to secure user accounts.

10. iBooks

Having electronic books that you have paid for but cannot read because of technical limitations is annoying, to say the least. In OS X Mavericks, all those iBooks purchased on your iOS devices can now also be read on your Mac. You get access to the iBookstore, too. Really, we should be living in a world where ebooks are not proprietary, but until then, any expanded access is a good thing.

11. Automatic Updates

Just as in iOS 7, Apple now provides a way for Mac users to download app updates automatically. This only applies to apps purchased through the Mac App Store.

Apple hasn't confirmed the price of OS X Mavericks, but it should be in the $20-$30 range, like recent OS X releases. Look for it before the end of the month.

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