After first releasing a build of the next major version
of OS X exclusively to AppleSeed members
that had dropped the words "Developer Preview" from the title, very late Thursday Apple sent developers the same build -- now labelled the "Golden Master" of Mavericks. Barring the discovery of any serious flaws, the version seeded tonight will be the final that is distributed to the public when OS X Mavericks (10.9) is formally released -- though the company has not yet announced a date.
Mavericks will sport a large number of minor and under-the-hood changes -- along with user enhancements like FaceTime Audio Calling, menubar and Dock support for multiple monitors, file tagging, tabs in Finder and a redesigned Calendar. It also boasts productivity and efficiency changes
such as App Nap (which handles routine updates and maintenance during sleep), and Compressed Memory for additional speed. Other new features
include iBooks for Mac, Apple Maps for Mac, a new and faster version of Safari, enhanced notifications and a wholly new feature called iCloud Keychain that syncs encrypted versions of users' various logins and other sensitive information across devices without allowing access to anyone other than the user.
The latter feature had been pulled from late betas and the final release of iOS 7 due to ongoing issues, prompting the company to put a "coming this fall" label on the iOS 7 web page. However, the tag has now been changed to "Coming Soon" and it appears that it will be included in the Mavericks release, suggesting the issues with it have been resolved. In addition to acting as a repository for passwords and other important information, the keychain can also create "strong" passwords and keep them available, while the user has to only remember the master password to unlock the keychain.
Alongside the GM of Mavericks, Apple also delivered a Golden Master of Xcode 5.0.1 which is expected to debut alongside the Mac OS update. Industry watchers widely expect the new version to be released sometime this month, possibly alongside updated Haswell-sporting MacBook Pros and even the long-awaited Mac Pro. Pricing on Mavericks has not been announced, but Apple has sold the last two download-only OS X upgrades for $20 exclusively through the Mac App Store.