This is a review a friend wrote after taking Mac OS X 10.7 Lion for a spin.
“OS X 10.7 Lion – Lipstick on a Cat,” by Teutoburg, 08 Jul 2011.
Contrary to what you’ve heard, you can perform a clean installation of OS X 10.7 ‘Lion’ onto an empty hard drive without the need for an existing installation of OS X 10.6 ‘Snow Leopard’. I’ve been living with the GM, build 11A511, for a few days now, booting off a secondary partition for tests.
Though Apple has insisted that Lion be purchased and installed from the AppStore, it is only a matter of time when Lion would be shipped on some sort of media. The current-generation AirBooks already ship with disposable-like USB installation flash drives. With disposable and thumbkey-sized USB flash drives introduced to the market, CD/DVD media will be further rendered redundant. Also, not everyone would have the broadband speed, data allowance or patience to download and install a 4GB file in one sitting. This will open up the usual can of worms, from download drop outs to botched upgrade installations.
If Apple’s marketing of Snow Leopard was ‘system-level optimisation’, then Lion would be ‘piling on the gloss’. From general system performance, Snow Leopard is already a polished product. Lion sees further system and user-level consolidation, along with gestures and GUI enhancements taken from iOS 4.x. No doubt, with iOS 5 around the corner, Apple will blur the distinction between these two operating systems. The launch of the TrackPad for desktops and trackpad-enabled laptops were the first hardware-facilitated sign of the integration to come. Users of the Trackpad and Magic Mouse will see greater benefit from the new finger gestures, giving more control and functionality.
Up is Down, Down is Up
The first thing you will see after a successful installation of Lion, is a screen blurb on the ‘right’ way to scroll where a downward movement of your finger moves the page upwards, and vice versa. If you are accustomed to the iOS way of scrolling, then you’ll be fine. As a fallback, you can always switch back to the ‘classic’ orientation of scrolling within System Preferences.
To Rule Them All
The Email tab within System Preference is a one-stop set-up shop for your Mail, Address Book, iCal and iChat. From AOL, Gmail, Yahoo to Exchange-enabled accounts, Lion will find and input the servers needed for your respective accounts. I was surprised that Lion could find the server address for one of my email accounts, which is obscure. Naturally, you need to be online during the set up process. As a package, Mail, Address Book, and iCal have all been given make-overs to resemble their cousins on iOS. As for iChat, if you have multiple chat accounts, all your contacts will appear, segmented by account, in a single window.
The Mac as a giant iDevice
You get to scroll to the left, to the right and back again with LaunchPad. Your apps will giggle when you click and hold on them. Dragging one on top of another will create a folder. This is all iOS-like, which some Mac newbies may find … amusing? However keyboard jockeys will stick with QuickSilver or Spotlight when it comes to launching applications, or opening documents and folders.
Mission Control is a glorified version of Expose. Though this makeover may seem frivolous or trivial to experienced users, I expect Apple to push for true virtualisation of the workspace in future version of OS X where that the power of multi-core CPUs, coupled with oodles of RAM, will be pushed to the limit.
In Your Face
Only applications coded to take advantage of Full Screen Apps will allow you to maximise every inch of viewing real estate. This serves to minimise distractions for some users, a feature no doubt borrowed from MS Windows. Screen pop ups and notifications have also adopted the iOS look and feel by jumping right out at you.
Getting Dumped On
AirDrop could be useful among Lion users within ’30 feet’. Though I have yet to test this feature, I’m sure AirDrop can be turned off, or restricted to known users at the least. You certainly don’t want to receive annoying drop pop-ups from strangers.
You may have read months back that Apple would no longer be solely responsible for developing future versions of Java, casting an uncertain future over this little but essential piece of software. However a later announcement has thrown a lifeline, with future versions of Java developed by Oracle. Thus, one of the first software updates you will see is Java Update for Lion 1.0. With the backing of IBM thrown into the pot, there will be hot coffee around the corner after all.
No Flash in the Pan
True to Apple’s word, Adobe’s Flash and Shockwave plug-ins do not come installed. So YouTube, Flash or Shockwave-based jockeys will have to install these plug-ins separately. After the face-off with Apple, Adobe has only moved a little faster in offering newer and optimised versions. And we have yet to see these plug-ins for iOS. The current version of Flash, 10.3.181.34, though in beta for Lion, functions well and has yet to crash Firefox 5 or Safari 5.1.
As You Were
I find Resume useful as it saves me the trouble of having to re-open or re-launch my folders and applications after a reboot.
Saving You from Yourself
Poking around in your Home directory, you will notice that the Library folder isn’t there anymore. Apple has deemed it fit to render it invisible to you in Lion. I employed Cocktail 5.0 Lion Edition Public Beta to render the folder visible. I am sure this is purely a defensive move by Apple, to save inexperienced Mac newbies certain disaster should this folder, containing all user settings and preferences, be misplaced or trashed.
To be fair, there should be no reason for anyone poking around inside the Library folder unless they wanted to thoroughly clean out left over folders and preference files after deleting an application. However, there are several applications which specialise in such removals. CleanMyMac which I use on Snow Leopard, also runs smoothly on Lion. This nifty application receives frequent catalogue file updates and will fish out all supporting folders and preference files pertaining to any application you wish to delete.
So far software suites like MS Office 2011, Adobe CS5.5 and Lightroom 3.x, install and launch with no issues. The installation for my networked printer, print and scan with no issues, even though the drivers are stated up to Snow Leopard. I’m sure there will be software updates for these in future. With the official launch of Lion another week away, some early adopters of Lion wonder if Apple will release a new build for the AppStore. However this is unlikely. Apple should be concentrating on the OS 10.7.1 Update.
Updated, 10th Jul 2011.
You can see what’s new in OS X Lion on the Apple webpage. Also, “MacBook Air, OS X Lion due next week?” on CNet News, 07 Jul 2011.