OS X 10.9 Mavericks review

Apple's newest OS is excellent for power users

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For the most part, we think Mavericks is a decent upgrade. While there's nothing transformative here, nor is there anything that will make OS X a drastically unfamiliar experience, and that's a good thing when it comes to the lifeblood of your desktop.

What we have instead are a number of refinements that will make your Mac for the most part easier to use and nicer to look at.

We liked

We liked the emphasis on power-saving and battery life, twinned with efficiency and performance benefits that will be a boon for all users.

The majority of app updates are welcome, even if some work better than others. It's also great to see Apple providing a system-based means of encouraging people to create complex website passwords that they themselves don't have to remember, thereby increasing their online security for relatively little effort.

The look echoes iOS 7 in the interface getting out of the way and not distracting from content. That the overhaul isn't nearly as radical as that seen on iPads and iPhones doesn't strike us as a negative, not least because Apple's mobile design language wouldn't necessarily work on the Mac anyway.

We disliked

On the flip side, there are inconsistencies here and there: typography is poor throughout the OS, and there are questionable design decisions, both from a visual standpoint (notably, iffy translucency) and in terms of interaction.

Aesthetically, there's an argument OS X has become a bit dull and staid - and though that's not strongly to the detriment of this version it does make us wonder if Apple knows where it's going.

Finally, although third-party apps generally ran fine on Mavericks, we discovered some services weren't fully compatible. Tags don't play nicely with Dropbox, and Gmail accounts don't always work well with the new version of Mail.

Final verdict

On balance, the experience is positive, but there's a feeling Mavericks is a touch unfinished and that this iteration of OS X was rushed.

Our hope is that Mavericks represents further evidence of Apple rapidly iterating OS X, bringing new features and ideas across from iOS, but not trying to turn OS X into iOS. We also hope it sets a precedent for OS X updates once again appealing to power users and consumers alike.