Apple's Yosemite OS brings new interaction between Mac and iPhone

The new version of Mac OS X will be available for free in the fourth quarter

OS X Yosemite introduces a refined new design, powerful apps and amazing new continuity features.

OS X Yosemite introduces a refined new design, powerful apps and amazing new continuity features.

The next version of Mac OS X, called Yosemite, will bring new levels of interaction between Macintosh computers and other Apple devices when it's made available for free early in the fourth quarter, Apple said on Monday.

With Yosemite, users will be able to answer incoming calls to their iPhone from their Mac desktop or Macbook Pro, for instance. When a call comes in, the caller ID pops up on the Mac screen and the user can answer it there, using the Mac like a speaker phone.

Another change in is how an activity started on one device can be picked up easily on another. If you're looking at a Safari webpage in Yosemite on a Mac, for instance, and then pick up your iPad, swiping up on the screen of the iPad will load that same webpage there.

The capabilities come from a feature in Yosemite that Apple calls Continuity. It allows the Macbook to detect other Apple devices in close proximity and share functionality and tasks in new ways.

Apple is also expanding AirDrop, which until now has been used to share files among iOS devices. With Yosemite, AirDrop will enable file sharing among iPhones and iPads as well as Yosemite Macs and Macbook Pros.

Creating tighter interaction between its products could be a smart move by Apple, giving people another incentive to make all their technology purchases from the company.

Like the last OS release, Yosemite will be free when it's made generally available in the fall, Apple said. It's also doing something new for the company: making Yosemite available to the general public as a beta starting this summer. You can sign up to take part in the beta at apple.com/osx/preview

Developers, meanwhile, are getting access to Yosemite this week.

The OS has plenty of other updates too. The interface gets a refresh that makes it look a bit more like iOS, and there is a new translucency to the tool bars and borders on windows.

There are also updates in Yosemite to tools like Spotlight, Notifications and the Safari browser.

Spotlight becomes a more full-featured search tool. Clicking the icon brings up a big search box in the center of the screen. From there, it's much quicker to launch applications, and results will also include content from the web, including Wikipedia.

Notifications also gets a big refresh. There is a new day view and it can incorporate application widgets, like a calculator or an ESPN sports news feed.

Yosemite was announced at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco Monday morning, where the company also revealed its latest refresh of iOS and Healthkit, a hub for the data collected by fitness devices.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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