In this article we have pulled together all the rumours and speculation about what Apple is planning for the next version of OS X. We have the expected release date of Mac OS X 10.11, along with system requirements, and some insight into the new features that Apple is said to be developing for the next version of its operating system. We'll keep adding to this article as we here more about what to expect in OS X 10.11.
In just a few days from now we will know something of what we can expect from OS X 10.11, the latest version of OS X that will succeed Yosemite. We are expecting Apple to preview the new version of the Mac operating system alongside iOS 9 at the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday 8 June. Find out what else we expect to see announced at WWDC here: WWDC 2015 rumours, date & expectations.
There are lots of rumours flying around the web suggesting that the latest OS X update will focus mainly on stability and security, but we are hearing there will be some new features that consumers should enjoy. What we do know for sure is that the new version of OS X will be an improvement on OS X 10.10, and given the various issues that have plagued OS X Yosemite, this has to be a good thing.
What will the next OS X be called?
One of the first things people are likely to complain about is the numbering of OS X 10.11, just as last year when people got into a debate about whether a release should be numbered OS X 10.10 or if that should role over to OS X 11, or simply OS 11, given that the X is pronounced 10, as in Roman Numerals (you'd be surprised at how few people realize this). We imagine that when Apple named the operating system OS Ten all those years ago they didn't expect to eventually be talking about OS Ten, ten dot eleven. Perhaps this is why Apple now focuses on the operating system's more friendly name, either the Californian landmark (Yosemite or Mavericks) or big cat (Lion, Snow Leopard, and so on).
With iOS 9 soon to arrive, the true confusion of the numbering will really become apparent next year when Apple launches iOS 10 Maybe then the two operating systems will merge - otherwise the following year we would have iOS 11 and OS X 10.13 and that would just be silly.
So maybe Apple should drop the numbers altogether, in many ways it has, in all its marketing materials and all over the website Yosemite is never referred to as OS X 10.10. Just as OS X Yosemite. The only place you will see the numbers is on the Mac App Store when you go to download it and in About This Mac, when you check the version of the OS you are running.
There's another reason why Apple might not release OS X 10.11 as OS X 10.11. Microsoft has said that Windows 10 will be the last version of Windows. This doesn't mean it won't ever update Windows again, just that it is changing it into a service that will see regular updates, rather than software that gets a massive update once a year. So, could OS X 10.11 be the last version of OS X with more minor updates happening regularly rather than once a year? Apple already issues sequential updates throughout the year, but we don't think it will stop producing the more major, yearly update.
With all this in mind, the name Apple gives to OS X is what is important. We can't predict what the next version of OS X will be called, other than that it will be named after a famous Californian landmark or location. We have a few guesses here: 10 possible names for the next version of Apple's Mac OS X including Mojave, Sequoia and Tahoe, which we think are more likely names than Death Valley or Hollywood, but who knows
Our money is on Mojave, and since we know that Apple has already trademarked the names of a number of landmarks in California - including Mojave - that's probably a good bet. Apple has trademarked: Redwood, Mammoth, California, Big Sur, Pacific, Diablo, Miramar, Rincon, El Capitan, Redtail, Condor, Grizzly, Farallon, Tiburon, Monterey, Skyline, Shasta, Sierra, Mojave, Sequoia, Ventura, and Sonoma.
We don't actually know how to pronounce Mojave though, but for that matter we don't know how to pronounce Sequoia either. [Note: we've been told Mojave is pronounced Ma-harve and Sequoia is sec-oi-ha].
The name of the next version of OS X could also take a name from within Yosemite, following the convention started with Snow Leopard. When Snow Leopard was introduced, it was a successor to Leopard, with security enhancements and system fixes (sound familiar?) Perhaps the next version of OS X could follow a similar theme, taking the name of one of the rocks, a river, or something else at Yosemite. For example, El Capitan or Half Dome.
One final thing to mention about OS X 10.11 is that its codename at Apple is Gala, not that this tells us anything about what it's final name will be - we certainly don't think that Apple is going to start naming the OS after apples. Last year OS X 10.10 was codenamed Syrah (which is a type of wine, like a Shiraz).
When will OS X 10.11 be released?
As we said at the start of this article, we are likely to see a preview of Yosemite at Apple's WWDC, and there may be a demo version available shortly after for developers.
If the new OS X follows the same pattern as last year's Yosemite there will be the opportunity for members of the public to sign up to be part of the beta testing scheme, and a lucky few will be able to download a version of the beta later in the summer (in 2014 the beta was released to public testers on 24 July).
The final release of OS X 10.11 isn't likely to come until October, based on the past few years. Yosemite launched on 16 October 2014 at the same time as Apple announced new iPad, the Retina iMac and an updated Mac mini. That said, OS X could launch a month earlier, alongside iOS 9. It would make a lot of sense if the two operating systems were launched at the same time as many features rely on the other operating system to work - such as Yosemite's flagship Continuity features. If the new operating systems are even more unified it would be a shame if Apple makes the public wait a month to take advantage of half the features.
How much will OS X 10.11 cost?
When Apple launched Mavericks it surprised everyone by making it free. Yosemite was also free, so we think it's a safe bet to presume that the next version of OS X will also be free.
OS X 10.11 System requirements
It seems likely that the system requirements will be the same as OS X 10.9 Mavericks and OS X 10.10 Yosemite. For those systems users required 2GB of RAM, 8GB of available storage, and needed OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) or later. You need Snow Leopard because without that you won't have access to the Mac App Store, which you need to download the new version. Luckily Apple still sells DVDs of Snow Leopard for this purpose - find out how to get one here: How to get Snow Leopard.
As for which Macs will be supported, OS X 10.9 and OS X 10.10 were able to run on the following Mac models, dating back to mid-2007:
iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
MacBook (13-inch Aluminium, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
Xserve (Early 2009)
While these Macs were classed as supported, they didn't support every new feature of Yosemite. There were a number of the Continuity features, which enabled better communication between iPhone, iPad and Mac, that didn't work on older Macs due to lacking newer Bluetooth support. There is a workaround though, read about how to get Continuity features such as HandOff and AirDrop working on an older Mac.
Will OS X 10.11 have a new look? OS X 10.11 interface & design
Given that Yosemite was a massive design change, we aren't expecting a major upheaval in the new version. What we may see are a few system-wide interface tweaks. For example, there are rumours that the new San Francisco font found on the Apple Watch will be making its way to OS X as well as iOS 9. Currently, the system font in iOS 8 and Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite is Helvetica Neue. However, we've heard that the new font may not look great on non-Retina screens - after all this font has presumably been chosen because it is clear on a small inch wide screen, why should that same font be used on a 27in display?
We also think that changing the system font could be a massive job - Apple and developers would have to redesign their apps to use the new font and given that they only did that last year with the introduction of Helvetica Neue we think it would be a big ask.
If you are wondering what the San Francisco font looks like, apparently the typeface is similar to Open Sans or Arial.
Will OS X 10.11 be customisable? OS X 10.11 Customisation options
If the popularity of the new Dark Mode provided in Yosemite is anything to go by, Mac users would love to have more customisation options. In fact there have been calls for more Dark Mode choices, suggesting there is a real hunger for this kind of customisation.
Another suggestion is that certain interface elements could be tweaked, for example, those who don't like the fact that the green 'traffic light' in an application's menu now switches you to full screen could revert to the previous action of enlarging the window.
What stability and speed improvements will OS X 10.11 offer?
As we have already mentioned, the rumour is that OS X 10.11 will focus on stability rather than flash new features. This suggests that OS X 10.11 will have a lot in common with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which bought bug fixes, optimization and security enhancements. Apple called it Snow Leopard because it was building on its predecessor Leopard.
Following the numerous bugs that plagued the launch of OS X Yosemite this should go down well with developers and consumers alike, but this focus on quality assurance is likely to mean Apple will hold back some new features for the next iteration of OS X - indeed, there are rumours that suggest that Apple is doing exactly that in order to focus on ironing out the issues.
Yosemite has been plagued by WiFi and networking issues and this appears to be one area that Apple is looking to fix, more on that below.
What WiFi & Networking improvements will OS X 10.11 offer?
After the WiFi issues that dogged Yosemite when it launched, we are hoping that the new OS X will be better equipped.
Apple has just released an beta of the next update to Yosemite (version OS X 10.10.4) and reports are suggesting that this update has dropped discoveryd, following network issues. Instead of discoveryd, when the update lands, OS X Yosemite will switch from discoveryd to the process used by older versions of OS X. About eight months after Apple introduce Yosemite this change will hopefully address some of Yosemite's networking issues. There are questions of why Apple used discoveryd in the first place, the most likely suggestion is that it was or is tied to AirDrop and Handoff, features that also didn't work very well when Yosemite launched.
This doesn't necessarily mean that the next version of OS X will ship without discoveryd, it may simply be that Apple has removed it from the current version and will re implement it in OS X 10.11, once it has fixed all the issues.
We hope that Mac users will not experience the same issues with WiFi that plagued the release of Yosemite. Users found that they couldn't connect to wireless networks after the update, and while Apple released a fix this couldn't be downloaded on Macs that were dependent on WiFi, like the MacBook Air. We had to resort to downloading a system update via a cellular connection. We sincerely hope Apple doesn't launch the next version of the operating system with such an unacceptable error.
What new security features will OS X 10.11 offer?
Staying with the WiFi theme for a moment longer, there's said to be a new feature called Trusted WiFi coming in OS X 10.11.
Apparently Apple is working on a Trusted WiFi feature that will allow Macs and iOS devices to connect to trusted routers without requiring security measures. On the other hand, if you connect to a non-trusted routers data will be heavily encrypted. Apple is said to be testing its own apps and third-party apps to make sure that they still work when this feature is enabled.
Apple is also said to be developing a new security system called Rootless for the next version of OS X and iOS. This new kernel-level feature should prevent malware as well as protect user data. It will prevent access to certain protected files on the Mac, even from the admin-level. We hear that on iOS Rootless will scupper jailbreakers.
Apple is also said to be re-architecturing iCloud Drive file encryption for apps. We'll discuss this in the next section.
What updates to iCloud Drive will be available in OS X 10.11?
According to reports, Apple is moving a number of IMAP-based apps over to iCloud Drive. IMAP-based apps include Notes, Reminders, and Calendar and currently they use an IMAP-based back end for syncing content, this could be iCloud, Gmail, or even Yahoo. By moving them all to iCloud Drive Apple will be able to improve communication and offer faster syncing between the apps as well as improving security because it will be able to offer end-to-end encryption for the data. The transition from IMAP to iCloud Drive is likely to be simple for users, reports suggest users will just see a dialogue box offering to import the data.
Apple is also said to be upgrading its iCloud Drive servers in order to sustain the anticipated increase in usage.
A dedicated iCloud Drive app to view files is also said to be in the pipeline. This would be useful for iPhone and iPad users, who currently have no way of accessing iCloud Drive content other than via apps. It would be nice to be able to open the iCloud Drive app, find a file and have it open in the relevant app, akin to the way we work on our Macs. On the Mac the iCloud Drive is easily found via the Finder.
What other changes will come with OS X 10.11?
Below we will assess some of the rumoured features, and some of the features that Mac users are hoping to see in the next version of OS X.
Control Centre in OS X 10.11
Control Center was a feature that many expected to see in OS X Yosemite - it even showed up in an early beta of that software. However, when Yosemite launched it was nowhere to be seen. We hope that Control Centre may find its way into the next version of OS X.
We expect Control Centre to be similar to the Control Centre in iOS. It is likely to include music controls, access to Do Not Disturb, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. In fact reports suggest it will include many of the controls offered by the Mac's Menu Bar, so that could include Spotlight and Notifications, as well as Sleep, Shut down and Force Quit.
It is thought that these controls will move from Menu Bar to a pane that slides out from the left side of the Mac's display.
Finder in OS 10.11
We don't expect the Finder-based file system to change in the next version of OS X, however, we have one request: when viewing Finder in column view it would be ideal if we could change the width so we can read a whole file name without having to switch to the list view.
Spotlight in OS X 10.11
Speaking of Spotlight, there have been many calls for the Spotlight window to not be locked to the middle of the screen. Currently the Spotlight search window appears in the centre of the screen when you click on the magnifying glass in the top right corner, or press cmd + space bar, this tends to mean it is always in the way, apart from when you actually need the data you have searched for, because as soon as you click away from the Spotlight window it will disappear. Anyone who has used Spotlight to convert currency will know the frustration of having to memorise the result when you click back into the app you required the data for.
New Force Touch gestures in OS X 10.11
We expect to see a number of new features that will benefit those with a Force Touch enabled Mac, there may also be an SDK released that will allow third-party developers to add Force Touch features to their apps. Read about Force Touch on the new MacBook here.
iOS features in OS X 10.11
Following are some features that first made an appearance in iOS and are expected to make their way to OS X, or have already arrived on OS X but are expected to be improved in the next iteration of the Mac operating system.
Siri in OS X 10.11
Now that Microsoft has added Cortana into Windows 10 there are calls for Apple to do the same and add Siri to OS X. Siri could be used to set reminders, for example, or add calendar appointments, or it could notify the user about incoming emails. However, we wonder how useful Siri on the Mac would be in a noisy office environment, and whether people really use Siri on the iPhone, other than to set timers.
Handoff in OS X 10.11
Currently Handoff in Yosemite lets users start something on their iPhone or iPad and then hand it over to their Mac. This could be an email, or it could be a webpage you are browsing in Safari. You can read more about Handoff here: Everything you need to know about Handoff, Phone Calls, Text Messages, and Instant Hotspot.
Now Mac users are calling for more apps to work with Handoff. iTunes, for example, is just crying out for Handoff integration so that you could switch from listening to your tunes on your iPhone to your Mac mid song. This same integration could potentially allow a movie to be handed off from the Apple TV to an iPad to watch on the go.
The Instant Hotspot feature was introduced in Yosemite and makes it easy to share the connection from your iPhone to your Mac, using your iPhone as a hotspot. Unfortunately it doesn't always work as planned, currently, so we are hoping for improvements in OS X 10.11. Read: How to turn your phone into a hotspot.
Notifications in OS X 10.11
We'd love to see our notifications in sync across all our devices. Rather than getting inundated with the day's notifications (which we have already seen) when we open our Mac at home in the evening we'd like Notifications on the Mac to take a leaf out of the Apple Watch's book and only show us new Notifications.
Speaking of the Apple Watch, we'd like to see a message flash up on the screen of our Mac telling us that we should stand up and take a break, a little like the hourly reminders on the Watch. Read: Tips for using Notification Centre on a Mac
Maps in OS X 10.11
The Apple Maps app is as scuppered on OS X as it is on iOS by its lack of transit directions. Hopefully the Maps app will get transit directions in the next version. Maps is another app that could benefit from Handoff integration - users can currently send directions from a Mac to an iPhone or Apple Watch before heading out, but Handoff would simplify that process.
Phone calls in OS X 10.11
Since Yosemite launched we have been able to answer calls to our iPhone via our Macs. We'd like to see improvements to this feature, for example, audio quality is generally quite poor, and placing a call directly from the Mac requires FaceTime as a workaround. We're also hoping to be able to access visual voice mail on the Mac.
QuickType-style predictive text in OS X 10.11
An iOS feature we'd love to see make its way to the Mac is QuickType. TextEdit already implements a 'suggested text' features that's reminiscent of QuickType and older auto-correct features in iOS: write a word, tap Esc and you get a list of suggestions. It would convenient if this was applied system-wide, not to mention easier to get used to. (Needless to say, we'd want there to be an option to turn it off system-wide, too.)
Touch ID and iPhone unlocking in OS X 10.11
We would like to be able to use touch ID on a iPhone or an Apple Watch to unlock our Mac rather than enter a password.
Shared copy paste between devices in OS X 10.11
Another feature we'd love to see is the option to copy something on one device and then paste it on to another. A shared pasteboard, hosted in iCloud, would be very useful.
Updates to applications that come with OS X 10.11
There is more to apple's operating system than the file structure and design. There are a number of applications that ship as part of OS X, and in 2014 Apple updated a number of these. Can we expect the Apple apps to get the same attention this year?
iTunes 13, iTunes in OS X 10.11
We're all desperate to see an update to iTunes. Last year's iTunes 12 might have offered a new look, but many Mac users found it less intuitive and there weren't many new features. Given that iTunes is the portal through which the iPhone and iPad communicate to the Mac, the way we manage our media, and our means to buy music, video and apps, it really needs an overhaul. In some ways it tries to do too much, in other ways it's bloatware.
We really hope to see usability improvements in the next version. Read: 15 iTunes tips and tricks.
One iTunes related thing we expect to see is the launch of the Beats-powered music streaming service from Apple. This should be a successor to iTunes Radio, which only launched in the US, so perhaps this time the new service will be available here in the UK too. Read: Beats-based music streaming service Apple Music to launch in June
Photos in OS X 10.11
It took almost a year, but Apple has finally released Photos for Mac, the companion app to the Photos for iOS. We don't expect to see much in the way of change in the next version of OS X, given that it was so recently launched. Read: How to use Photos for OS X and How to set up Photos for OS X.
Better Mac App Store in OS X 10.11
Searching the Mac App Store could use some improvement. We find it frustrating that the search results often seem to return copycat apps rather than the obvious one you are looking for. Modern search engines have largely outgrown this problem by using algorithms that rate a source's credibility, but Apple's system has not. We hope that this improves on the iOS App Store too. Read: How to find the best apps on the Mac App Store.
Safari in OS X 10.11
Safari had a big revamp in Yosemite, with lots of new features. Our main criticism is that the Top Sites view and Favourites view are essentially the same thing, so we don't really need both. And the Tabs across the top of the window are nightmarish if you have a lot open, they get consertinered towards the right and left of the screen and that makes selecting one nigh on impossible. Luckily there is another way to view open tabs. Find out more about using Safari in Yosemite here.
Mail in OS X 10.11
Like Safari, Mail had a massive overhaul in Yosemite. Gaining features like Mail Drop and Markup. Read: Email tips for Yosemite, use Mail's new features. However, there are still a few things on our wishlist for Mail. For example, we'd like to be able to make it so that only only be for VIP emails would appear in Notifications. Speaking of VIPs we'd love if there could be more than 100. We'd also like there to be better spam and malware email management.
Swift in OS X 10.11
One final thing to mention, Apple's said to be updating its programming language that it introduced at WWDC in 2014. Swift is apparently going to reach "Application Binary Interface (ABI) stability," and its code libraries will therefore be pre-installed within the new iOS and Mac operating systems. This means Swift applications will require less space and consume less data - especially useful if downloaded over a cellular connection.
Apple will apparently not be shipping Swift versions of its own applications this year though, but the company will be converting its own apps to Swift in 2016 we hear.
We'll keep adding to this article as we here more about what to expect in OS X 10.11. Come back again soon.
Have some geeky fun with this guide to using terminal on the Mac