It’s been a few weeks since OS X Lion hit the world and after getting a real feel for the new features, I think it’s time to review them. Lion has some big changes as well as smaller, subtle features within the general user interface so I’ll try to hit a bit on both. Let’s get started:
Multi-Touch Gestures: If you feel overwhelmed looking at the pictures of Gestures on the Apple website, you can be assured it is not as complicated as it looks. In fact, the Gestures really utilize the organization Lion has focused on bringing to the Mac. The biggest issue I’ve always had is needing to access multiple Gmails/other usernames anywhere on the web without piling up 25 windows from different browsers just so nothing logs out. I have about 3 Gmails I access all day everyday. Gestures combined with Full Screen Apps (more on those later) allows me to open those other browsers, make them full screen, and swipe them away from my desktop, out of sight until I need them again. Bringing them back is a simple swipe to the right. No longer do I have to use mini iTunes just to clear some space. Gestures also allows two finger scrolling, eliminating the need for the scroll bar to be constantly present. If you want it, just put your cursor over there and tada! Also new to Lion are the pinch zooms already on iPhone. Gestures also allows quick access to Mission Control and Launchpad. Push three fingers up and Mission Control allows you to see every window/app you’re running across your Mac if you’ve lost track of it. A three finger pinch will bring up Launchpad, a list of all your apps for quick launch. Gestures may seem like a lot at first, but stick with it and you’ll be eliminating a ton of time and clicks during projects. See all the gestures here.
Full Screen Apps: I’ll admit I was skeptical about full screen anything but it turns out this feature is awesome. As I mentioned earlier, most browsers are now capable of running full screen, allowing instant eReader feel to article browsing. I remember when editing in iPhoto had me wishing for just a little extra screen space to really make the photo pop. Now, you have all the space you need. This feature also works for apps like Mail, where you frequently need to see more than one message at once, allowing quicker access. Some extra fun with Photobooth and full screenage makes better pictures and better effects. Are you a Kindle fan? Now you can read completely full screen, finally getting rid of those limitations of reading on your laptop.
Mission Control: Ever lose a window you really, really need? On OS Snow Leopard, Spaces let you see most of what was going on, but Mission Control lets you see all the windows across the board with a simple three finger push. It organizes the windows according to full screen apps, browsers, utilities, and even the Dashboard. One of my absolute favorite features is the ability to create a second desktop screen to really separate the fun apps from the work apps. Even those you put onto the second desktop are viewable from Mission Control. It’s almost like having a dual monitor situation without taking up table space.
Launchpad: I almost wish this was built into the actual desktop but once I get a few hours into working, I can really appreciate it’s seclusion as a Gesture or place in the dock. Say you’re typing something up or working with Photoshop or any other screen taking over app and you need to open another app quickly or don’t want to minimize what you’re doing. Now a three finger pinch brings up all your apps, swipeable from page to page. Just like the iPhone and iPad, you can click and hold to organize them however you see fit. Open the app you need, and it brings you right back to what you were doing. The need to open the Finder, scroll through the apps folder and put everything on hold is now gone.
Resume: I cannot even begin to tell you how thankful I am for this feature. Previously, I’d have to start my computer up and reopen all of my apps, maybe wander away to make more coffee while it did its thing. Resume allows your Mac to shut down but still remember what you had left open and need on a daily basis. It’s like putting your Mac to sleep when you shut it down, except it doesn’t slow start up time or cause unnecessary loss of memory and cache build up. For those of us in the habit of needing to access files quickly when completely shut down, Resume is a godsend.
AutoSave and Versions: These two guys will save your life. I had little sympathy for people who don’t save their docs or projects on a progress-to-progress basis to begin with, but now losing your stuff short of spontaneous combustion is impossible. AutoSave periodically saves your work for you, and even if you somehow manage to still lose it, Versions will get you pretty close to where you left off. Versions is the writer’s and business presentation’s dream come true. Remember that idea you scrapped last week and wish you hadn’t now? You can now go back in time and find the version of your project as it was before you changed everything. In a Time Machine-esque manner, Versions shows you your progress week by week or day by day. Writer’s beware: Don’t try and make the old edits work too much.
The issues I’ve found with Lion are few and far between. Sometimes when you Resume and get started, a full screen app will load and swipe itself to you. Once or twice the grey steel background seen on the login screen stuck as my desktop wallpaper. I’ve seen a bunch of buzz about Mail crashing frequently, but mine has yet to crash. I only use it for my own professional Gmail account, so maybe it’s linked to having multiple accounts used with Mail. Additional bugs seem to be heavy app usage related, the same bugs we have all been plagued with since day one of computers: slowing down of processing, etc. I feel like Apple and Windows alike have the ability to eliminate these issues even for the less hardware packed machines we use everyday. No one should have to buy the top of the line laptop or desktop to use 3 or 4 heavy programs at once in order to work. The only apps marked as incompatible with Lion were my Dropbox, Jawbone MyTalk, and Cocktail. Dropbox is the only one who seems to be lagging in the upgrade and stability department. As for anything I wish OS X Lion would’ve done – I would’ve liked to have seen a Finder redesign. I still use it to access pictures or older files. Although with the addition of Gestures, Finder seems to be on it’s way out. All Apple would have to do is find a way to incorporate archived files and folders into Launchpad in a neat manner. I’d imagine uploading and browsing them with the Internet could be done this way too.
Leave me some feedback on any bugs you are experiencing and what you think of OS X Lion!
Lauren Mack: Co-founder of The Well Written Woman is an aspiring writer, blogger, and overall enthusiast of brainstorms. She is currently attending Flagler College as an English major with no intentions to teach. Lauren spends a lot of time reading novels and hoping she can one day finish her own. She often wonders how they made blue cheese so delicious. Really, she is just imposing her elitist attitude on everyone.You can find her pennings at her blog and follow her on Twitter.