ramblings of a madman
My thoughts on Lion

After a few days with Lion, I come to the conclusion that there’s basically nothing really exciting new. I won’t complain, the price is basically nothing and I’m sure there’s a lot of things i didn’t even see so far, but the main new features are kind of a bummer. 

  • Launch Pad

Instead of going to the Applications folder in your Dock or use spotlight to launch an app (which you luckily still can do), you now can use the new Launch Pad. It’s basically the Home screen experience we know from the iPhone/iPad. What a waste. I don’t know who thought this would be a good idea, it’s the most useless thing ever.

The thought behind it surely is to bring the iOS experience to Macs, but it’s so unpractical in use, it’s beyond me. The first “home screen”, if you will, is all the native apple apps in alphabetical order. From the second screen on, it’s all the other apps in alphabetical order. If you add other apps, they will appear on the right most “home screen” in chronological order. You can make folders to organize your stuff, but why would you? Use spotlight, or even better Alfred and be done with it.  

  • New Touch Gestures

Lion is very focused on Touch Pad controls, since their best sold products are laptops. So, to get the most out of Lion while on a iMac or Mac Pro, you should think about getting a Magic Trackpad. But then again, those new gestures aren’t that exciting.  

There’s a new Pinch movement where you use three fingers and your thumb, which is kinda hard to get to work, and mind you, I have rather tiny hands. Since it’s used to launch the Launch Pad, I don’t care anyways. 

Most of the new gestures only work in Safari so far, so if that is not your default browser, which it isn’t for me, it’s useless as well. 

The three finger swipe left and right, used for browsing back and forth in Finder or any browser, are now used to switch between the different desktops in Mission Control (we’ll get to that in a second). Apparently you can use now a two finger swipe to browse back and forth, but that doesn’t work for me. Luckily you can change it in the settings and use a four finger swipe for Mission Control. 

  • Mission Control

Mission Control is a dumped down version of Spaces. You can assign different apps to different desktops and swipe between them. As a heavy user of spaces in Snow Leopard, where i knew exactly which app was on which space, this is kinda confusing. If I understand it correctly, the desktops your use the most are the ones on the left, so it changes over time, dependent on which apps you use. 

A four finger swipe up shows you all the different desktops and the apps on your current desktop. And with the default three finger swipe, in my case four finger swipe left and right, you can switch between the different desktops. And now here’s my problem. I don’t see any advantage to just using cmd+tab to switch between apps. I try using it, but i always end up swiping over a couple of desktops till I am where I want to be. 

  • Full Screen Apps

Another new thing in Lion are the full screen apps. Meaning that an app uses the whole screen. The dock is hidden and so is the menu. Of course the app has to support this, so far i tried it with iTunes, Safari, Mail and Chrome. Well, it does what it does, and I guess it’s good to have for some apps, especially when you’re on a smaller screen, but let’s be honest here, it’s not really groundbreaking, is it. 

Full Screen Apps get their own desktop in Mission Control. 

  • Mail

Mail has a couple of new features, which is nice. The layout is different, again, making more use of smaller screens. It also has new views for conversations, very convenient. 

Photo Booth & iPhoto have new features too, but since I almost never use them, I won’t comment on that. 

  • Reverse Scrolling

Apple changed the default scrolling, calling it “Natural Scrolling”. Usually you would take two fingers and swipe them down to scroll down. To make the experience the same as on an iPhone/iPad, it’s the other way around now. The thought behind that is that you take a piece of paper and by pushing it up, you scroll down.  

It kinda makes sense on a trackpad, it’s doesn’t make any sense with a mouse wheel. Luckily you can change it anytime, so it’s not a big deal. I’m using it as of now, in the end it’s just muscle memory. 

  • Disappearing Scrollbars

In most of the apps, the scrollbars are only shown if you’re actually scrolling. Giving you more room, but taking away the ability to see in what position of an document you are with one look. Another feature I don’t really care about. Changeable in the options. 

  • Finder

The Finder has a new design, it’s very dumped down colour wise, which I like. It now has a “all my files” menu option, which shows you, surprise surprise, all your files. I don’t think I’ll ever use that, wouldn’t know why. 

It also features Air Drop now, an easy way to exchange files between Macs wirelessly. Couldn’t try that though. 

Finder is still not perfect, for example I don’t understand why there’s still no cmd+x. 

  • Auto Save

I rarely do actual work on my MacBook Pro, so I rarely save anything. Writing this in the Text Editor worked fine, I guess you just have to get used to it. You can browse through different versions time machine style, that’s nice. But as I said, I rarely touched this feature. 

  • Resuming

Now that’s a nice feature. You shut down your Mac, leaving all apps open and the next time your turn it on, they open just like you have left them. Convinient. Just remember to close those porn sites when you have a presentation the next day ;)

  • Conclusion

As I said in the beginning, there’s nothing really exciting in it for me. I was hoping they would integrate Airplay into OSX, but they didn’t. With the upcoming iOS 5 in fall, there’s a couple of new features I’m looking forward to. Until then I enjoy what I have and will hopefully find some hidden new things that are useful.