03 June, 2014

Five OS X Yosemite features Chrome OS already has

Alright, now that we're between the WWDC and Google I/O keynotes, we sure have seen quite a bit. Apple unveiled two new operating systems, iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite... ah, and this time, with iOS having gotten the redesign treatment last year, this year, it was the Mac's turn to face the Iverhaul. Definitely cool to say the least... but then again, while there were some unique features in tow for the Mac, others sounded very familiar to us Chromebook users. I know of a few of them in particular that seem to really stand out.

1. Front-and-center Spotlight

Let's face it: The awesome desktop search behemoth known as Spotlight has indeed been a feature that Mac users have enjoyed for a solid 9 years and 2 months, and all the while hasn't changed a bit... until now. Then again, ever since its initial release, the competition ― led by Google and Microsoft ― have slowly one-upped it, and Chrome OS's implementation, thanks to a few flags, has led the pack. It therefore only makes sense for it to receive an overhaul... ah, but the overhaul revealed by Apple seems all too familiar for us Chrome OS users:

How is this familiar to us, exactly, you may ask? Well, a flag that just entered the Stable Channel with the release of Chrome OS 35 (and thus has been accessible to me, a Canary user, for a couple of months) has indeed offered the ability to reposition the app launcher in the center of the screen:

And did I mention this search box has Google Now-style voice search along with the "OK, Google" hotword (so far, "Hey, Siri" is only in iOS, and only in a beta release... ah, the irony) as well, making it even more powerful than OS X's Spotlight? You bet:

Then again, 2 months isn't nearly enough time for Apple to see that as something to intentionally copy, especially if it's still an experimental feature that not too many people use, leaving a window out there for mere coincidence, so I digress.

2. Notification Center cards widgets

Ah, the Notification Center. Right from the start, it was a clear ripoff of Android's implementation... and then iOS 7 came along, where all of a sudden, we had what looked to be a clear copycat of Google Now. By that time, however, Google Now had been available for Android AND iOS! Ah, and then Chrome's implementation came along with the stable release of Chrome 33, way back in March of 2013. Now that it's June, it appears Apple is copying Chrome's implementation of Google Now in OS X too:

Now, of course, it's time to demo Google's counterpart, which in Chrome OS, except for its trigger location (at the bottom of the screen), is nearly identical:

Yeah, thought you might enjoy that. I've been enjoying it since January, a full 6 months before OS X Yosemite was unveiled.

3. Google iCloud Drive

This new feature indeed seemed VERY familiar to me, a Chromebook user, to say the least. I almost laughed my head off through the whole presentation of iCloud integration in Apple's Finder:

So why was I laughing? Because I've had the ability to do that with Google Drive (which clearly is Google's alternative to iCloud) since Chrome OS 20, way back in 2012:

Not to mention, of course, that Google has indeed been working on a chrome.fileSystemProvider JavaScript API since June of 2013. What's that supposed to do? Allow third parties to offer their own online storage services via Chrome extensions to the file manager... Yeah, seeing a full year of work suddenly get ripped off by Apple? Please. You know better than that.

4. Large Attachments: Enter Google Drive's Gmail integration

This really isn't something entirely unique to Chrome OS that Apple decided to rip off; after all, it's through Gmail's web interface that this is possible, but let's see, what do we have here? Well...

... Yeah, Apple demonstrating how to easily and securely send large files via iCloud sounded like déjà vu to me, given how long I as a Chromebook user have been able to do this... and let's be honest, all you need to do is pull up Gmail in ANY browser, and you can do the same thing: Just hover over that "+" in the bottom left corner next to the paper clip, and the first option you'll see for attaching files is one to do it via Google Drive, where they can be as large as you want them, as long as they're not too big for your quota, which for me ― thanks to the free storage that came with my Chromebook ― is a whopping 115GB. Yeah, and Mac users only get 5... So, lucky me, I can send files 23 times bigger than Mac users can, even when Yosemite goes public.

5: Dedicated private-browsing windows: Uh, yeah, just press Ctrl+Shift+N

What does that do? Well...

... Yeah, exactly what it says: opens a dedicated window comprised entirely of Incognito (Google's equivalent to Apple's Private Browsing feature) tabs. It's been that way ever since Chrome's inception: Incognito tabs, by default, are always kept in windows separate from their non-incognito counterparts; the two are never allowed to intermingle. This obviously makes it incredibly easy to distinguish which tabs are being tracked by third parties (and by Google) and which ones aren't, because rather than having incognito and normal tabs in the same window, where the margin for the error of copy/paste from an incognito to a non-incognito tab (and vice versa) is very high, no matter how many URLs you copy and paste into a Chrome incognito window, as long as you paste them into the same window they'll remain incognito. Yeah, much better model indeed.

That's it for now; 5 is good enough, but it's clearly amazing what features we take for granted, because you never know what kind of awesomeness even Mac users are just now beginning to discover, far behind us. Heck, even as an iPhone user as well, I'm still pretty disappointed in this...