15 months after OS X Mountain Lion was released, Apple’s upgraded the OS that started it all. This time, though, it’s the name of a surfing location in California that graces the latest OS X instead of another cat name — but then, it is hard to top a Lion when it’s the king of cats.

So OS X Mavericks 10.9 it is. It’s the last OS before Apple either decided to use a two digit number after 10 or bumps the number up to 11 — or totally rebrands it as OS Xi, my personal favorite prediction. And instead of being a sweeping UI overhaul of the OS like the dramatic changes in iOS 7, OS X Mavericks is a release that’s almost not noticeable at first. You could use a Mac running Mavericks and not notice it wasn’t running Mountain Lion if you weren’t looking close — it’s that similar.

And yet, it’s not the same. Mavericks is a core release that makes OS X faster, more power efficient, and brings some great new apps and power user features along for the ride. It’s the foundation of things to come, and yet, it’s going to be a great OS for the next year in the mean time. And it’s 100% free for all Macs, so there’s no reason not to upgrade.

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Odds are, you’ve never tried to use your Mac as a dash-mounted GPS. The thought likely never crossed your mind. And yet, if you ever plan trips before leaving, or perhaps still print out paper maps as a backup against vacation disasters, you likely still visit Google Maps online semi-frequently. You might even have Google Earth around still for the occasional scenic virtual stroll around the globe.

Maps for Mac is now the best way to plan your trips, if you’re comfortable relying on Apple’s maps data. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a nice extra on the Mac, one you’ll likely find yourself reaching for instead opening a new tab for Google Maps.

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Steve Jobs infamously quipped in ’97 that “Internet Explorer is a really good browser”, then followed up 6 years later by unveiling Safari and predicting that “many will feel it’s the best browser ever created. A decade later, and Safari commands around 14% of the browser market — and additionally, derivatives of its Webkit core power Safari and Opera as well, which have a combined marketshare of around 32%.

iOS is largely responsible for Safari’s large browser share today, but on the Mac, Safari still gives you the smoothest browsing experience. Apple’s maintained that with Safari 7 in OS X Mavericks, and thrown in some extra features that make browsing nicer, even if Safari’s not competing in the web app’s world the way Google’s Chrome is. It’s the browser still focused on making browsing nice.

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Finder’s demise has long been foretold. It hasn’t received much love since Snow Leopard’s release, and the addition of iCloud seemed to spell doom for the way we’ve always managed files. And then, WWDC 2013 happened, and the lowly Finder was back in the spotlight (ahem).

Some of OS X Mavericks’ most exciting new features are in Finder and the ways it can help you find and manage your files more easily. There’s tabs in Finder at long last, along with tags that happen to make iCloud files more accessible to other apps of all things. It’s time to take a deep look at the essential underpinning app to the Mac: Finder.

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iOS is the favored child at Apple these days. Most new features in Mavericks — and, indeed, in OS X Lion before — were features that came first on iOS, and even the Darwin Kernel version in iOS is always one version ahead of its OS X counterpart. The Mac still doesn’t have Siri, the iPhone’s iconic chatty assistant, but it does have a leg up on iOS in one Siri-like feature: Dictation.

Dictation has its roots in Mac OS Classic’s PlainTalk Speakable Items introduced in the days of System 7 in 1993. That core is the tried-and-true VoiceOver and Voice Commands in OS X, but it never was perfect for dictating text. Then iOS and Siri came along, and Apple brought iOS-style server-powered dictation to the Mac with Mountain Lion. It was far more accurate, but far more limited, and required you to be online for dictation to work.

In Mavericks, Dictation on the Mac has once again pulled ahead of its iOS counterpart, with continuous, offline dictation that works as good or better than the version in Mountain Lion. And there’s still the voice commands, now in a reworked settings pane, that together make the Mac the most accessible computer out-of-the-box.

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It’s been nearly 4 years since Steve Jobs originally announced and demoed iBooks on the original iPad, marking Apple’s first steps into the eBook market — ones that’s cost Apple a DoJ lawsuit. iBooks is a great iOS eBook app, one backed by an extensive library of titles and great support for DRM-free ePub and PDF eBooks. The only thing that’s kept many of us from switching to iBooks for our book purchases is that there’s no way to read iBooks books on a Mac.

That ends today. With OS X Mavericks’ release, iBooks for Mac is finally a reality. It’s a best-in-class eBook app, though surprisingly is far less integrated into OS X than we would have expected.

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Ever wanted to tweak a photo, but decided not to since it’d take too long? Or perhaps you decided to skip tweaking the picture since you can’t afford a copy of Photoshop. There’s now no excuse not to tweak your photos, though. Beautune, our sponsor this week, makes it insanely easy for anyone to touchup their photos in seconds.

Beautune is a powerful yet simple tool that lets you perfect your portraits in just a few clicks. You can automatically soften skin, brighten photos, remove imperfections, add digital foundation, and more in just a click. You can then remove wrinkles, reshape your face, whiten teeth and boost your lip color all with told that make these complex tasks incredibly simple. Just take a minute to watch this video, and you’ll be blown away by how simple it is to touchup photos in Beautune:

When you’ve got the people in your photos looking great, it’s time to focus on the rest of the picture. Beautune gives you a simple tool to blur the background so the people stand out best in photos, and then lets you add built-in filters, vignettes, and frames to turn your pictures into works of art. All of that, in a simple interface that anyone can use. It’s the photo tweaking tool you need.

Beautify Your Pictures with Beautune Today!

You’ll have to try Beautune for yourself to see how easy it makes photo touchups. You can download a free trial of Beautune from their site, then get your own copy of Beautune from the Mac App Store for just $14.99 for a limited time. That’s a steal for all the editing power it’ll give you in an app that’ll just take you seconds to learn.

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It’s finally here. After Apple kicked off WWDC ’13 with OS X Mavericks and the brand-new Mac Pro, it’s been months since Apple did anything major for the Mac. iOS 7 and the new iPhones — plus brand new web apps and Logic Pro X, both for the Mac, we can’t forget — have taken up all of Apple’s public attention since then. But tomorrow, Apple’s promised that they “still have a lot to cover”, and we couldn’t be more excited.

There’s likely to be new iPads released, of course, and perhaps new covers (that suspicious word pops up in their invite), but at Mac.AppStorm we’re most excited about what tomorrow means for the Mac. We’re almost certain that OS X Mavericks will either be released tomorrow or very soon after — there’s almost no way it’ll be released later than this week, at this point. But then, back at WWDC, Apple promised a new iWork, and we’d sure love to see a redesigned and vastly improved iWork ’13 and perhaps a companion iLife ’13 to boot. Plus, the MacBook Pro Retina Display is due for a spec bump, as is the Mac Mini — and the new Mac Pro is still supposed to be coming out this year. And, there’s the ever tantalizing prospect of absolutely brand-new products from Apple, though somehow it doesn’t seem too likely we’ll see that tomorrow.

Ok, your turn: what are you looking forward to most tomorrow? Any predictions for Apple’s fall announcement this year?

And stay tuned this week: we’ve got a ton of OS X Mavericks content ready for your reading pleasure as soon as Apple releases the first non-cat-named version of OS X.

Apple has always provided a means to back up your iPhone so that, should anything disastrous happen, you’re safe in the knowledge that you can easily restore your backup to a new one. At first, this was simply through iTunes but along came iCloud and now backups are performed directly to Apple’s servers, saving the burden of iTunes syncing.

While this protects our iPhone’s data from something such as loss, theft or damage, what happens if we inadvertently delete some information such as some notes, a voice recording or document within an app?

PhoneView is an app that provides a level of interaction with an iPhone (and iPad) that goes far beyond anything iTunes lets us do. Even without jailbreaking, we’re able to delve deep into the iPhone’s filesystem and directly access app data, messages, call logs and more so they can be easily archived and backed up – as well as recovered if the worst has happened.

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We’re used to syncing — so used to it, in fact, that it’s more strange when an app doesn’t sync on its own or over iCloud these days than anything. But for native apps, that’s typically where it ends. Even in new “cloud” offerings for the Mac, such as Adobe’s Creative Cloud, the only part of the app that’s online is the file and setting sync (and the fact you can download apps, but that’s anything but new). Web apps, even ones with native app counterparts, have the advantage of always running online, so they can often have nice extras like collaboration and options to add stuff via email and more.

The Omni Group is well known for their Mac and Web apps, but they also make a little free extra online service for their apps: the Omni Sync Server. It’s what powers OmniPresence, their new iCloud-like document sync service, and is also the default way to sync OmniFocus if you don’t choose to use your own server for syncing. And they’ve now taken that sync server and added something you’d expect from an online productivity app: Mail Drop.

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