Apple Everywhere

Already Addicted to OS X Lion

- 2011.07.21 (updated) - Tip Jar

I've only been using OS X 10.7 Lion for a few hours, but I'm already loving almost every change Apple implemented in its design. If you haven't made the jump yet, here are my favorite features in Lion - and some of the things I feel Apple could have done better.

Awesome

Mission Control

Yes, I'm an iPad guy, and it shows. My favorite OS X feature yet is Mission Control - and it's not just for eye candy reasons. Rather than using Exposé to have all my windows gathered in one desktop, I can just swipe between sets of apps and windows I have open.

Mission Control in OS X 10.7 Lion
Mission Control in OS X 10.7 Lion

For instance, I do some desktop publishing for my college newspaper, so I could have Photoshop, InDesign, Microsoft Word, Safari, and Dictionary all open at once. Instead of having to use Exposé to find the windows for each app, I can just have Photoshop and Indesign in their own separate desktops, Safari running fullscreen in another, and Microsoft Word and Dictionary side by side in a fourth. Spaces could have done it, but not as fast and efficiently as Mission Control and the new gestures.

Launchpad

I taught everyone in our newsroom how to put the applications folder in the dock, but if we get Magic Trackpads, even that might not be necessary.

Launchpad in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
Launchpad in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

Launchpad is not so much for your frequently-used apps as it is for those apps you would rather not have in the dock, hogging space for the apps you use constantly. How many of you, for instance, have a dock that consists of a myriad of tiny little dots, magnified by a mouseover? Launchpad makes that method of launching applications look awfully tiresome (provided you're using a trackpad or have a shortcut key assigned for Launchpad - clicking the Launchpad icon sort of defeats the purpose).

Full-Screen Apps

Even those who have a thing for having multiple windows open will like Full-Screen Apps (when used in conjunction with Mission Control).

Full-screen apps let you use the entire display
Full-Screen Apps let you use the entire display, not just part of it.

Currently, the full-screen application I'm using most is Safari. I'm used to running Safari full-screen on my iPad, but it's even better on the Mac (especially with the two-finger swipe to go back and forward). Just like on the iPad, the Web seems to come alive when it's not restricted to a window, even a maximized one.

Reverse Scrolling

Yes, many people made a big stink about this one, but I feel it's a move for the better. It took a little bit of getting used to, but once I did, scrolling in reverse felt far more natural, like scrolling on my iPad.

Not So Awesome

Battery Life

Okay, before you panic and think that I'm about to say that battery life in Lion is heinous, I'd like to assure you that Lion is just as efficient as Snow Leopard, perhaps more so.

What bugs me, though, is that the first time I started Lion, the battery life looked like it was going to be heinous. Apple has apparently implemented some new battery life calculator algorithm that takes a little while to become accurate. Readings of 2:00 remaining at 95% on a 15" MacBook Pro Core i5 are enough to make anybody freak out for a second. Spotlight apparently has to rebuild its index after the upgrade, leading to a temporary spike in battery-draining disk usage. After about 30 minutes or so, Spotlight had finished and the battery life is now reading 7-8 hours at 100%.

Come on, Apple, at least have it read "initial calculation" or something instead of freaking us out.

Front Row Is Gone

Alas, my favorite media center app, I barely knew thee. Front Row is gone, creating a void in my heart that even iTunes 10.4 full-screen can't fill. Maybe we'll meet again, somehow, someday.*

Dock Won't Go Away

Once again, there is no option to kill that oh-so-resilient Dock or its Dashboard counterpart. Apple, if you're going to create such a wonderful app launcher as Launchpad, at least give us the option of permanently banishing the Dock (not just hiding it) to create a cleaner, more aesthetically-pleasing desktop.

Conclusion

With all of the applications I'd installed on this MBP working great under Lion (none of which are PowerPC-only), there's almost no reason I can find not to recommend an upgrade to Lion - the lack of Rosetta being the exception. So, if you don't have any PowerPC-only apps (make sure to double-check your drivers as well for Intel compatibility!), Lion is a great, stable upgrade that is sure not to disappoint. LEM

* Lion has been out just a day, and we're already seeing articles on re-enabling Front Row on sites such as OS X Daily and It's All Tech. However, iTunes 10.4 appears to be incompatible with Front Row. Time will tell whether independent developers can get it working again.

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Austin Leeds is a Mac and iPad user - and a college student in Iowa.

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