Apple launches new Mac OS X Mavericks at WWDC 2013

Apple has taken the wraps off its next-generation desktop operating system, dubbed Mac OS X Maverick.

The Cupertino-based tech titan launched a preview version of the new software for developers today as part of its WWDC 2013 keynote, ahead of a general release this autumn.

Mac OS X has typically been named after giant cats - from Mountain Lion to Jaguar to Snow Leopard. At its Worldwide Developer Conference, however, Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, joked that the company was running low on ferocious felines.

Apple did not want to delay rollout of a new OS because of a "dwindling supply" of cat names, he quipped. Federighi joked that Apple considered OS X Sea Lion, but instead decided to pay homage to Apple's Californian heritage with Mavericks, a reference to a famous surfing break in the north of the state.

So what's with OS X Mavericks? Federighi showed off Finder Tabs, which will allow users to draw all windows together. Tags, meanwhile, will allow for tailored files - in addition to location and name, you can add customised tags, which Federighi said will be "great for really powerful search."

There's also boosted support for multiple displays so you can "get at your menus across multiple displays," Federighi said, as well as also "summon your docks." Activity on one display, meanwhile, "doesn't mess with" activity on the other, he said. Those with AirPlay-connected HDTVs can also use it as a full-power connected display.

Federighi talked up a reduction in power state transitions, to reduce CPU activity by 72 per cent. Mavericks will also compresses inactive memory on the fly to free up memory for other functions.

Federighi also tipped some updates coming to Safari, including a new, clean homepage. There's a new sidebar for bookmarks, and you can browse right from those bookmarks. Scroll through your reading list and get a preview without having to navigate to the website, and peruse shared links from Twitter and LinkedIn.

On the security front, Apple unveiled iCloud Keychain, which will remember passwords, website logins, credit card numbers, Wi-Fi networks, and account information. It's "always encrypted, synched across systems," Federighi said. If you sign up for a website, you can enter your own password, or select one from iCloud Keychain.

Apple is also bringing more iOS-centric Notifications to the Mac, like push alerts from apps, all of which will appear on the screen when you wake up your machine. Apps will also auto-update in the background.

Federighi said Apple has been "making great improvements" to Maps, which will be accessible on the Mac. Users can send those Maps right to iOS devices for on-the-go access.

Meanwhile, iBooks will be available on the Mac, allowing for access to an eBook library across Apple devices. There will also be updates to the Calendar app.

"Mavericks continues to make your digital life follow you from device to device," Federighi said.

The last update to Mac OS X, Mountain Lion, debuted in July. The revamped OS focused heavily on iCloud and integration with other iDevices. Work done on the Mac was automatically accessible on an iPhone or iPad, for example. Also new was Notification Center and easier sharing.