Hands-On with macOS Mojave Developer Preview

Posted on June 5, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Mac and macOS with 48 Comments

Hands-On with macOS Mojave Developer Preview

Apple announced the first public beta of macOS Mojave yesterday, so I installed it on my MacBook Air to take a peek.

I also installed the iOS 12 beta on my iPad mini and iPad Pro. But in sharp contrast to previous years, I’m actually far more interested in what Apple is doing with macOS this time around.

There are a few reasons for this.

Most obviously, I’m curious to compare how Apple is updating its own legacy flagship platform so I can compare that to what Microsoft is doing with Windows 10. But this release seems to align even more closely to Microsoft’s efforts, as macOS Mojave features a revamped App Store and a dark user interface mode, just like Windows 10. Plus some features that seem to be lifted straight out of Windows’ past, like the Finder Gallery View (from Windows XP) and Stacks (from Windows Vista).

And I have to say, I like what I see here.

It’s immediately obvious that Apple’s new Dark Mode looks better than the Dark app mode that is available in Windows 10. It’s elegant, and instead of sharp blacks, as in Windows, it simply features dark, more pleasant hues.

Though only in an early beta now, the Mac’s new Dark Mode is already more consistently applied across the system, compared to Windows.

In Windows 10 today, for example, File Explorer and other desktop applications don’t go dark. And some apps, like Microsoft Edge, need to be configured to be dark independently, which is monotonous for those who like to switch back and forth. (Edge even calls this a “theme” whereas that word means something else to Windows. This is classic Microsoft, folks.)

The Mac’s Dark Mode is also far more sophisticated than Windows 10’s Dark app mode. For example, you can configure an option called Dynamic Desktop that changes the color cast of the background image and user interface to match the time of day. It gets darker as it gets darker in the real world, and lighter when it gets light. Windows 10? It’s just black or white.

(Windows 10, like the Mac, supports a Night Light feature that tones down the blue light from the display to help your eyes at night. This is called Night Shift on the Mac.)

The new Mac App Store is pleasant-looking enough, I guess, and it somewhat resembles the iOS App Store, but with a navigation pane instead of a bottom-mounted toolbar. I’ve had tons of connection errors so far, but it’s just an early beta. And Apple still isn’t overcoming the App Store’s biggest issue, which is a dearth of high-quality apps. The same issue Microsoft faces in Windows 10.

I haven’t really played with Stacks yet: My important documents and data files are stored in OneDrive and I don’t want to mess with that. But this feature looks useful, and it allows you to automatically group images, documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, and other file types in virtual folder-like stacks automatically or by design. It’s like a blast from the Windows Vista past.

macOS Mojave has picked up an iOS-like screenshot feature in which a thumbnail of each shot appears before it is saved to the desktop. If you click this thumbnail, it opens in a new Finder-based image editing mode which looks pretty feature-rich.

And speaking of the Finder, that new Gallery View is pleasant enough. But then I enjoyed using it in 2001 in Windows XP.

Apple may have slowed the pace of Mac hardware releases, but this macOS update suggests that they’re on the right path from a software perspective. And there is a lot more going on in macOS Mojave, of course. But these productivity-focused features are very much in-line with what I like to see in a desktop update. And are the same types of updates that Microsoft is adding, at least so far, to Windows 10 Redstone 5, which should ship around the same time as Mojave.


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