I have been running Mac OS X Lion for a while now (Developer Preview and Gold Master) and have been waiting for the official launch of the OS to provide a review (without being pulled up for violating the NDA).
My Mac: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 Ghz with 8 GB RAM and 1 TB 5400 rpm HDD (2008 unibody version). And for the record – I am not a fan boy! I use a Nexus S and a Nook Color running Honeycomb. I also have a laptop that runs Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04.
I got on-board the Apple Mac OS bandwagon with Leopard and this is the third version of Mac OS X that I’d be using. The first thing that struck me with the OS was the speed improvements. Unlike its rival from Seattle, Apple has been fairly successful in making significant under-the-hood improvements to its OS.
With time at a premium, I’m going to provide a quick walk through of some of the top features and thoughts on the latest entrant to the cat family!
The most touted feature of Lion is the mission control feature – a one-stop shop to view all open applications, windows and switch between them. For those who use expose, mission control just cranks it up a notch!
I can’t imagine going back to something without mission control now. It makes navigation so much easier and quicker that you don’t feel like a 3 year old kid lost in a local county fair. You can access mission control with the four finger swipe – lo and behold appears all the windows with icons neatly splattered all over the screen.
This is a feature that is extremely useful and is designed to avoid those ‘Oh I wish I had saved my file’ moments. However, one of the limitations (at least for now) is the compatibility with third-party applications. I still use Microsoft Office as the primary office tool on my Mac and I couldn’t versions to work on Office.
The idea is that Lion will continuously save files, track them for changes and provide you with a time-machine like format to chose from – this makes editing and tracking changes to documents a literal breeze.
This is by-far my most favourite feature of the OS – hands down! You can enable full-screen (by full screen I mean full screen without any interruption) on native apps like Mail, iTunes, Safari, iPhoto etc., and work on them without any distraction. If you have multiple full-screen apps open, then you all you got to do is a four-finger swipe to switch windows – the switching is smoother than butter!
Full screen apps is a feature that must be a mandatory all applications (mandatory with the option of using it of course!). It makes focussed work a reality in this era of constant facebook/twitter (and G+) distractions.
I was hoping for something better in my head and am quite disappointed with launchpad. What was supposed to usher in the era of iOS and Mac OS X integration is actually the least used feature in Lion (least used by me in the last 2 months).
While conceptually it lives up to its features, it somehow isn’t very effective when those fingers and touch screen are replaced by keyboard and mouse. I still prefer using the good ol’ mouse to navigate to applications and open the app or even better – stick those apps on my dock!
One of the things about Apple is the attention it pays to subtle, minute things that normally wouldn’t catch the attention of our eyes. By making those improvements, Apple has been constantly refining and polishing its OS in a way that other companies do not.
Windows XP -> Vista -> 7 have all been major changes visually as well as architecturally. Same with Ubuntu. However, with Mac OS X – Apple has been offering ‘almost’ the same visual interface while making those minute changes everywhere.
The scroll bar for example, is something that we take for granted. If you notice closely in Lion, it is there when you need it and poof! – gone when you don’t.
The two fingers scrolling in Lion is the exact opposite of how it has been in Leopard and Snow Leopard but it feels so much more fluid and best of all – natural! I wonder why they didn’t do it in the first place.
Other features such as Mail, Calendar and Address Book have also gotten upgrades and definitely go a long way in making Lion a rock solid OS!
Kudos to Apple for making sure that the Lion lives up to its name and is not just another stray cat!
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