We are likely a week away from the official release of OS X 10.7, Lion. I have been testing this operating system since Developer Preview 1 came out. I must admit, at first, Lion seemed like something I just was not interested in. When Steve took the stage and said the goal was to bring the best of iOS to the best of OS X I was quite skeptical. I personally like my mobile devices to be my mobile devices and my computer to be, well, my computer. After a few solid months of wrestling with the OS, I’ve come to a few conclusions have a few things to share.
Let’s start with some of the pleasant notes:
Resume & Auto-Save
Resume, from day 1 was a feature I loved. Running an OS in its early development stages can lead to some problems and quite a few restarts. For the first time ever previewing an operating system didn’t make me want to hurt someone when it crashed. Just as advertised, the machine ends up right back where it was before the restart. Now that the OS is a little more polished, the restarts are less frequent but it is still fantastic to know that I no longer have to worry about losing any data.
For the first time in my computing life, I do not feel like I’m stuck waiting to restart my computer. Little updates or new installs are no longer something I have to strategically plan out. When I want to install something, I install and do not blink an eye at the idea of restarting anymore. I also find myself actually turning my computer off a little more often. In the past I would never dream of turning my computer off, it was always a quick shutting of the lid for sleep mode. While this is still the most convenient when it comes to bringing the computer back up next time, it still isn’t too bad when you do power it back on.
Auto save and resume to me go hand and hand. The only time I have ever really lost a document is when I’m restarting and somehow miss the save prompt when the computer starts to restart. I have tested the feature a few times and can attest to it working. Certainly this will be helpful for some people.
Mission control was a feature I was quite displeased with at first. I felt as though Apple had done something all wrong. I loved Expose and the way it kept everything organized. When I launched Mission Control for the first time, I almost reverted back to Snow Leopard instantly. I thought this was a cluttered mess that made no sense. Now that I have played with it for several months, I must admit I’m quite in love with the new feature. It really makes things easy when using the full screen apps. This feature is something you will just have to get used to, but when you do, you’ll find that it is actually wonderful.
iOS Features to the Mac
Deep integration between the two operating systems was clearly the goal with Lion. In my opinion there were some features that brought significant improvements to OS X while there were others that I’m still shaking my head wondering what exactly the point is.
When it comes to Launchpad, it just doesn’t make sense to me. I see where they were going with the whole “your apps are all in one place” feel, but to me, the applications folder does a fine job. Given that you have to actually push a button or make a gesture on the trackpad to get into Launchpad, it seems pretty pointless. This to me makes the feature more cumbersome than it does helpful. Perhaps I am missing something here, but I do not think I am. This is a feature I’m predicting just doesn’t catch on all that well.
One iOS feature I did not like at first, but quickly fell in love with is full screen apps. I feel like Apple is on to something here that will take off quite well. I feel like as a Mac user I’ve always wanted to be able to see multiple windows at a time and did not believe in the maximize button. This has all changed with the full screen applications. I do not feel bothered or distracted by anything else while working anymore. I feel as though everything is out of my way when I’m working in a certain program. When I get iChat messages they will pop up in the application I’m working in. This genuinely bugs me now. I’ve gone from wanting to see everything in one place to someone who loves have all of my screen for each individual app. Spaces was something I never really fell in love with, but this feature is now a “must-have.”
A feature I loved from day one with Lion that came right from iOS: multi-touch gestures. The gestures make moving from desktop to desktop (Spaces) a breeze. As previously mentioned, I love using full screen applications now. I can quickly move between these full screen applications with a quick swiping gesture. The “tap-to-zoom” gesture has also been a nice added bonus. Like its iOS counterpart, it does a great job of zooming in on content you want to take a closer look at. The one feature I did NOT enjoy was the new style of scrolling. Apple is trying to mimic the iOS scrolling where a downward two finger motion sends you up and an upward motion sends you down. This is the complete opposite of how it has been done on an Apple trackpad for years now. I feel as though it is going to be a difficult learning curve for many users. I turned this feature off on the first day and still have yet to try it again. I do not think I will be making the switch until I’m forced to…
Having iOS 5 has made this experience a little unique. Apple has built in some nice integration between the two with iCloud and the new version of iTunes. This new version of iTunes can be had on 10.6, but I still feel as though it is worth a mention. I have officially “cut the cord” from my life. Wireless syncing has been fantastic thus far. The integration runs deeper than just wireless syncing. Users of the iWork suite will find their documents sync up wonderfully. Documents in the Cloud is a new feature of Apple’s new service iCloud that will save people lots of headaches. I can now go to a pages document on my computer, edit it, save it, and magically, it is back on my iPad ready to go.
This is a quick little review of some of the most note worthy items within Lion. Next week everyone will get to experience for themselves and really formulate an opinion on the OS. In the mean time, feel free to send any comments with questions about a new feature or how something works.