Preliminary notes on some of OS X Yosemite’s UI elements


Thanks to this post by The Typist, I’ve enjoyed Min Ming Lo’s first look at some details of OS X Yosemite’s redesigned user interface. Take a look at his Mac OS X Yosemite Under the Magnifying Glass, with various annotated screenshots and thoughtful commentary. This article has been really useful to me because it shows parts of Yosemite’s interface I hadn’t seen yet. I generally agree with Min Ming Lo’s observations, but I wanted to add some personal notes to a few specific details I’ve noticed, so I borrowed 5 images and added my remarks right there. (My notes are written in a bolder font weight that should make them distinguishable from Min Ming Lo’s contributions.)


Lucida Grande vs Helvetica

Okay, bear with me here, but I have to insist: Helvetica Neue, however tweaked, is still a poor choice as system font compared to Lucida Grande. You may like it more for personal reasons, but look at the image and tell me, honestly, which font is more legible at 12 pt.



The lighter tooltip may look more elegant, but I wonder what happens when you have an application window or a Finder window with a white or very light background right above the Dock. Currently, the darker tooltip along with the embossed Lucida Grande makes for a very noticeable label in any situation (which is the main purpose of these tooltips). That thin font and that light coloured tooltip? I don’t know.

Translucent notification badges: again, cool-looking for sure, but a bit fainter than on Mavericks. This is, admittedly, a minor peeve.

Simple dot for indicator light: a real step back, in my opinion. Compared to Mavericks, these dots are barely visible. People who keep a lot of application icons in their Dock, like me, need to have better indicators for active apps.


Menubar icons

(Click to enlarge)

The song remains the same: these UI elements all look more stylish than their Mavericks’ counterparts, but from a usability standpoint they should be clearer. This look may work on iOS because you keep your devices closer to your eyes and can appreciate the finer details. When you’re working with a non-Retina monitor that is roughly 50 cm away from you, I’m not so sure.



Also, consider that ‘Done’ button: sure, on Yosemite it looks ‘more highlighted’ than on Mavericks, therefore it should be more noticeable. On the other hand, the use of white Helvetica for the button text makes the word(s) less legible than Lucida Grande in black on Mavericks.



While I don’t particularly mind the colour scheme for the Finder window sidebar in OS X Yosemite, I still find the current situation under Mavericks to be better overall. Better typography, better contrast, better legibility.

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