Developer Review: Mac OS X Lion is Easy to Tame
I’ve gotten my hands on the new developer beta of Mac OS X Lion. Here are some quick impressions regarding the new OS and what users can expect should they decide to upgrade in the summer of 2011. There’s a lot more to this upgrade than a coat of GUI paint …
The big changes with Lion have to do with the way users interact with their Macs. Thanks to multitouch, OS X Lion gives users the ability to interact in much the same way they would with their iOS device. That’s good and bad at the same time.
The bad? Apple has remapped all the scrolling so a two-finger swipe up ‘pulls’ the page down (a la iOS) and a two-finger swipe down ‘pushes’ the page back up. Users can switch this back to the way it once was, but it messes with all the other multitouch goodies (and subsequently your head).
For instance, three finger swipes will move users quickly through Spaces, while two finger swipes in Safari will move web pages back and forth as though they’re playing cards in a deck being shuffled. Four finger swipes up and down brings up Exposé and “Mission Control” (an overview of Dashboard and desktops with grouped applications), respectively. However, if users decide to swap the scrolling back to the way it was, it also inverts the swiping of all the aforementioned applications, making things much less intuitive.
That being said, I’m living with the inverted scrolling. It won’t take too long to retrain my brain.
Users who love iOS will love Launch Pad, which is essentially an iOS icon-styled screen listing all the apps. I don’t see this being useful for me, and I forget it’s there. But for a newbie with Mac OS X this could be a great feature, since they may already be familiar with iOS.
But the real eye candy isn’t in the new multitouch features (which are very fun) but all the iOS pop-ups. Screens ‘bubble’ in and out like notifications do in iOS. What’s more, buttons have become rounded rectangles, losing the oval blue bubble. The same is true for progress bars, which now have a more blue, candy-stripe look than an aqua, bubble look. Icons with color have now been desaturated, like the iTunes icon, and buttons have been refashioned into sliders if the context is appropriate.
Drop shadows are more prevalent, and fonts, texts and even the red, yellow and green traffic light window managers are shrunken slightly. Users also can finally resize windows from any corner. Apple also has hidden the “Library” folder under the user account folder, although the reason is unclear.
I’m running Lion on my MacBook Air 11.6 inch. It’s running smooth, though I’m noticing a bit less battery life than I’m used to. I’ll keep testing it to see how it holds up under normal wear and tear. Meanwhile, if there’s anything you’d like to know about, let me know. I’ll keep taming the beast.