On Lion

I've been using OS X Lion since Apple unleashed it unto the Mac App Store nearly two weeks ago. I won't bother with a review because there are plenty of those1 floating around and, frankly, I don't want to write one. Instead, this post aims to highlight my thoughts on Lion's marquee features, as they appear on Apple's website. This being a non-review notwithstanding, I will say that I am generally very pleased with 10.7.

Multi-Touch Gestures. My main machine is a Late 2008 unibody aluminum MacBook with a built-in Multi-Touch trackpad. I also use a Magic Mouse, so I'm not lacking for opportunity to, um, touch things. That said, I really like the new gestures introduced with Lion. My favorite gestures, by far, are two tied to Safari: 1) the double-tap with one finger to zoom in/out; and 2) two-finger swipe to move back and forth between pages. I'm particularly keen on the latter gesture. I find myself wanting to use it on my iPad a lot, only to remember there's no such functionality -- yet. In any case, the two-finger swipe is  so much better than using the dedicated ←/→ controls. And I'm happy to report that I've gotten used to the iOS-like scrolling behavior to the point where I won't go back2.

Full Screen Apps. I've tested full screen mode for most every system app -- iCal, Safari, iPhoto -- that supports it, but don't really care for it3. I can see the benefits of using it in, say, Pages or iPhoto, but I just don't feell ike I need full screen. I prefer seeing all my open windows and my Dock, and I've gotten along just fine without it, so it's no big deal. Where I do think full screen shines is on the 11-inch MacBook Air4. The smaller screen size definitely gains an advantage with full screen apps.

Mission Control. Mission Control is nice, although I've never used Spaces or Dashboard, so this feature of limited use to me. The presentation is nice, though, and I like how easily you can move apps from one desktop to another.

Mac App Store. Not much to say about the Mac App Store. I'd been using since January on Snow Leopard, and love it. Most of the apps I've bought have been through the MAS. Lion is only available through the MAS. Digital distribution is definitely the future (er, present) and the optical drive is dead.

Launchpad. Launchpad is okay, certainly convenient. Launchpad is probably great for new Mac users, but it's not for me. I've grown accustomed to using Spotlight as my app launcher, so I don't need Launchpad to launch anything. Put it this way: Launchpad is so relevant to me5 that I haven't even taken the time to group my apps into folders. One thing that will likely forever annoy me: for whatever reason(s), Xcode for Snow Leopard6 lives on, even though it's nowhere to be found on this Mac.

Auto Save & Versions. No more having to hit Command + S a billion times working on that fucking lette7 because Lion saves your work automatically. What's more, you can go back in time via a Time Machine-like UI and bring back (in bits and pieces even) prior versions of your work. And if you need to reboot your compiuter for any reason, the new Resume feature brings back your windows just as they were before. Just gotta remind myself that the Versions interface is not in the main toolbar.

Mail. Haven't tried the new Mail yet, but I should. And will.

Overall. At just $30, Lion is a no-brainer upgrade. It might take you awhile to download and install -- it took me about 5 hours total -- but it's worth the wait. Three cheers for meeting the minimum installation requirements!

LATE EDIT: Found this (via Ben Brooks) about the best things in Lion. It's worth your perusal.



1. Namely from: Ben Brooks, Shawn Blanc, and the seriously epic one by John Siracusa of Ars Technica.

2. You can enable pre-Lion scrolling by unchecking the box in the Trackpad pane of Syatem Prefs.

3. My new toy, depending on when iPhone 5 comes out.

4. MarsEdit does fullscreen too. Don't like it either.

5. Sarcasm alert.

6. Which doesn't even run in Lion.

7. Of which I received delivery confirmation today. Now for the response...