Up to now, OS X notifications have been a one-way street: They provide you with info about what's happening in applications, but offer no way to interact. Mavericks changes all that.
For years, Mac users who wanted to consolidate notifications from various applications had to rely on third-party apps like Growl to get the job done. That changed in 2012 when Apple rolled out Mountain Lion, which incorporated the iOS-like Notification Center for the first time.
But Apple's implementation of system-wide notifications was sorely lacking: while it provides you with regular status updates through pop up windows and collects them all in a sidebar you can view using a trackpad or mouse gesture, Mountain Lion notifications don't provide any sort of interactivity. So when a tweet comes your way you want to respond to, you still have to open your Twitter application and do it yourself.
Here's what Apple says about Notifications in Mavericks:
Notifications let you see what's up — and now they let you get things done, all without leaving the app you’re in. With OS X Mavericks, you can interact with your notifications, so you can reply to a message, respond to a FaceTime video call, or delete an email right from a notification.
Mavericks is taking a big step in the right direction by offering one-click interactivity with notifications. Now when a notification pops up from e-mail, Messages or FaceTime, you can respond without breaking stride in whatever you're doing.
Apple's doing more than that, however - they're bridging connectivity between iOS and OS X Mavericks. So if you have an app running on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad that sends you Push Notifications, you can now get those Push Notifications on the Mac.
Notifications also rounds up your alerts when your Mac is asleep, so when you wake your computer you'll get a list of all notifications that have happened directly from your Lock Screen. If you're concerned about people spying stuff they shouldn't see from your Mac's Lock Screen, worry not. The Notifications system preference pane remains in place in Mavericks, now with additional features, like the ability to customize whether an app will show notifications when the display is asleep or locked.
At the WWDC keynote, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi highlighted another feature of Mavericks Notifications - it will alert you to any software updates and download them in the background. That's a huge time saver to Mac users who want to stay up to date on system software changes, and a huge boon to frequent customers of the Mac App Store.
It's sadly easy to get distracted when you're trying to be productive, thanks to a million things happening at once - social media, applications demanding your attention and more. Mavericks Notifications goes a long way to reining this in by providing a consistent and easy-to-use way to stay on top of what's happening without removing your attention from the task at hand.
Is OS X Mountain Lion's Notification Center driving you crazy? Have you resorted to third-party utilities to bridge the gap? Or do Mavericks' Notifications seem intrusive and unnecessary to you? I want to hear from you - please let me know in the comments!