Apple’s latest operating System, OS X Lion, introduces an obvious and pretty extreme directional shift for the Macintosh lineup.
As Steve Jobs noted when talking about Lion and the upcoming iCloud service at the 2011 Worldwide Developer Conference, “We're going to demote the PC and the Mac to be a device, just like an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.”
One look at the recently released Lion illustrates part of what Jobs was referring to. With a gesture-heavy interface, fullscreen applications and the new Launchpad feature mimicking the iOS design, its obvious that the bridge between iPhone and Mac is now considerably smaller.
Of course, the question then is, “Is that a good thing?”
Like most significant changes in life, the answer is 'yes' and 'no.' Here are five things that really worked with Lion.
Five things to love about Lion:
- The price: At $29.99, Apple has definitely found the sweet spot when it comes to pricing an upgrade. If you’re in need of the server edition, that could put you back as much as $80, but as Chris Rawson pointed out at TUAW.com, “For the amount of money you'd pay for a single-machine license for Windows 7 Ultimate Edition, you could install Mac OS X Lion and its server tools on 20 machines and still have 60 bucks left over. If you're like us and you think Lion doesn't need the server tools to be on parity with Windows 7 Ultimate, you could install Lion on 70 machines and buy yourself a six-pack for the same price as one Windows 7 Ultimate license.
- The packaging: John Siracusa noted in his impressive and extremely well laid out review of Lion, “Apple is so done with stamping bits onto plastic discs, putting the discs into cardboard boxes, putting those boxes onto trucks, planes, and boats, and shipping them all over the world to retail stores or to mail-order resellers who will eventually put those same boxes onto a different set of trucks, trains, and planes for final delivery to customers, who will then remove the disc, throw away the cardboard, and instruct their computers to extract the bits. No, from here on out, it's digital distribution all the way.”
Apple has proudly made its recent OS available exclusively through its online software store. That means you won’t find a copy at your local mac store -- at least, not until a little later this year.
But now, with a single click from within the OS X App store, Lion can be purchased, downloaded and installed on every Mac you own. During that time you can make yourself a sandwich, check your iPhone for browsers that convert Flash into HTML5 (Puffin’s a great choice for that by the way), and lazily wonder if it really is time to change out of your pajamas for the day.
- Gestures: Trackpad-gestures aren’t entirely new to the Mac, but they’re taken to a new level on Lion. With some simple and surprisingly intuitive finger swipes, Lion users will be able to browse desktops, gather open windows, flip pages, launch applications, single out windows from a specific application, enlarge, shrink, twist, turn, and scroll Internet history without ever touching the keyboard.
It takes a little getting used to, but it’s wildly convenient once getting the hang of it.
- Resume, auto save and versions: As Brian Heater of Engadget said in his review of OS X Lion, “Versions, along with auto save, will be a likely favorite for anyone who spends a significant amount of time word processing.”
OS X Lion has created a way for programs to continually save versions of your project without you ever hitting “Command S.”
If there’s a power outage, or you just hate your latest draft, simply click “Revert to Saved,” and several versions of the project appear on a 3D timeline. You can entirely restore a previous version of your work, or simply copy a minor portion to insert into your live document.1 comment on this story In all honesty, you’ll probably want to access this feature the first few times because it simply looks cool. But once the novelty wears off, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.
- Full-screen applications: For the ADD generation, clutter is our arch-nemesis. Sometimes just seeing an Internet browser out of the corner of your eye is enough to put a project on hold while you check out a few articles like this one.
Because of Lion’s new Mission Control feature, browsing desktops dressed with a single application is convenient and almost therapeutic to those easily distracted. Every pixel on the page is dedicated to the application you’re working on, and if there is a legitimate reason to do some research on the Web, swiping four fingers to the left or right takes you where you need to go while preserving all of your work until you swipe your way back.
It’s pretty, it’s useful and frankly, it’s about time.
In the end, Lion is a beautiful operating system with some especially welcome considerations for the user. We’ll soon discuss what didn’t quite work for Apple’s latest cat, but on a whole, there’s a reason reviewers like personal technology columnist Walt Mossberg have said, “So my bottom line is, I think it’s the best computer operating system out there.