OS X 10.11 release date, features and rumors


It’s been seven months and counting since Apple’s iOS-inspired OS X 10.10 Yosemite leapt onto the Mac. Attention has now turned to the next major release of OS X, which is expected to be named – you guessed it – OS X 10.11 [insert noun/California-based location here].

Like iOS 7, Yosemite’s bold colours and flattened icons divided opinion, but the stats paint a positive picture: more than half (58%) of Mac owners were running the latest version of OS X in April, according to data by NetApplications.

It’s hard to deny that Yosemite looks fantastic on Apple’s newer computers with Retina displays – such as the iMac with Retina 5K and the new MacBook – but users on older hardware have reported sluggish performance since upgrading.

As such, it’s rumoured that OS X 10.11 will focus on “under-the-hood” performance improvements, rather than new features, as OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard did back in 2009. Snow Leopard famously launched with “0 new features”, instead focusing on improving performance and service support. Apple aimed to please developers with the OS, but it became a hit with regular users too.

OS X 10.11 release date

OS X 10.11 is expected to be shown off for the first time at WWDC 2015, which takes place on June 8 – 12. Apple has said that the event will give developers the chance to “learn about the future of iOS and OS X”, suggesting that both OS X 10.11 and the next version of iOS S, iOS 9, will be shown off before being made available to developers. Certain Yosemite features such as Continuity saw tighter integration between OS X and iOS, a path that Apple is likely to continue with OS X 10.11.

It wouldn’t be surprising if OS X 10.11 was once again pre-loaded onto new Macs while being made available to download through the Mac App store for existing Mac owners in October, the month that both OS X 10.9 Mountain Lion and OS X 10.10 Mavericks were let loose into the wild in 2013 and 2014 respectively.


OS X 10.11 price

The last two versions of OS X, Yosemite and OS X 10.9 Mavericks, were both free, so it stands to reason that OS X 10.11 won’t cost anything either. Even if Apple went back to paid annual updates, the last version of OS X to come with a price tag, Mountain Lion, cost just £13.99 ($16.99 or AUS$20.99). It’s especially hard to see OS X 10.11 costing anything in light of Microsoft’s decision to offer Windows 10 as a free update to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users for one year.

OS X 10.11 name

Releases of OS X were named after big cats prior to OS X 10.9 Mavericks, with the last being OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Apple indicated that future versions would be named after California locations from that point onwards, starting with OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

So what’s next? Apple has trademarked a number of names that could be used for OS X 10.11, including: Redwood, Mammoth, California, Big Sur, Pacific, Diablo, Miramar, Rincon, El Cap, Redtail, Condor, Grizzly, Farallon, Tiburon, Monterey, Skyline, Shasta, Sierra, Mojave, Sequola, Ventura and Sonoma. Of course, there’s no guarantee that any of the above will be chosen.


OS X 10.11: what we would like to see

Window snapping

Windows 7 introduced the ability to “snap” windows to the sides of the desktop to easily position apps and other content on the display, something that’s still missing from OS X six years later. Sure, there are third-party apps that can do it, but they’re not free or run as smoothly as the native behaviour on Microsoft’s snap-happy OS. Windows 10 has introduced a way to snap four Windows of equal size to each corner of the screen, which would be a boon for anyone using Apple’s larger iMacs or a large monitor.

App snapping

Sync Launcher layout to iCloud

Another useful feature from Windows 8.1 is the ability to have Windows automatically download and lay out apps, desktop wallpaper and settings associated with a Microsoft account. This means that you can log into another Windows 8.1 machine and have all of your favourite apps downloaded and laid out as if you’ve sat down at your own computer.

OS X forces you to manually download your previously purchased apps from the Mac App store, before inserting them into the correct order the on the dock (if you harbour OCD tendencies). It’s not a problem if you stick to one machine, but slightly cumbersome if you tend to chop and change. Baking such functionality into OS X 10.11 shouldn’t be too difficult thanks to iCloud support.

OS X 10.11 and Siri

App snapping

The most notable absence from Yosemite was Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant, Siri. With Microsoft introducing Cortana into Windows 10, now would be a good time for the personal assistant to come to Apple’s desktop OS. When you can download and install Windows 10 Technical Preview onto a Mac to get Cortana, but you can’t get Siri on the native OS, that’s a sure sign that Apple needs to play catch up.