I have been using Mac OS X Lion since the release day, but I was holding back on writing a review until I had played with it for a bit longer than two hours to actually get a feel of its real day-to-day functionality. Apple claims there are over 250 new features, but these are the main things you will notice if you do decide to take the plunge and upgrade:
Full Screen Apps
This is, luckily for me, optional, as I rarely like having a single application taking up my whole screen (big multitasker here), but I know people that are usually only surfing the internet or have small screens will appreciate it, making this feature a yay or nay depending on your particular situation.
Unlike many reviews out there, I have no big complaints about Mission Control. I think it works nicely enough and like that it integrates the old Expose and Spaces (and even Dashboard if you want it to). I only wish they’d bring back the functionality to show minimized windows as well and made it faster/easier to move apps between different desks.
This is a screen with all your apps, pretty much like what you’re used to seeing in the iPad and iPod touch. I personally think it can be great if you’re a light user that only has some applications installed in your computer, but for a power user like myself, the thing is pretty much useless until Apple incorporates an option to let you choose which apps you want to have in your Launchpad.
Versions and Resume
Both of these features are pretty much a built in auto-save. Some people love it, some hate it. I love it. Why? Because I can just turn of my computer and run and when I come back and turn it on again it will restore absolutely everything to the way I had it. It is awesome for me because now I won’t have to leave my mac on for days and days only briefly putting it to sleep because I can’t be bothered to save everything I was doing and then waste time opening everything again. Plus, if you make changes to a document and then regret it, you can recover the previous version without any panic needed if you accidentally over-wrote it instead of saving a new file.
In case you are one of those who simply don’t like it, there is a option to turn it off, so don’t fret. From my personal experience, this feels much more natural and got me a total of 2 seconds to get used to it. The downside of course is that it’s going to feel weird when you have to use PCs or macs that aren’t running Lion.
In theory this sounds amazing. Sharing files wirelessly between macs with no need of external hard drives or USB thumbs is like a dream come true! In reality, though, not enough people around me have upgraded to Lion so I haven’t had the chance to test this feature just yet.
I think this would be hard to get used to, but in reality it has been a breeze and now it actually feels annoying and bothersome when I’m on a computer with a regular mac. Moving your fingers on a trackpad is much nicer, faster and generally much more intuitive than having to click with different buttons.
Our old trusty Finder now has several options to organize your files. I am particularly fond of the All My Files view sorted by date and kind for those times when I forget where I just saved that document 15 minutes ago.
Things I don’t like:
- Safari has a bunch of neat new features, but it’s currently unusable as it hemorrhages RAM and turns your mac into a turtle after a few hours of use. It is specially bad if you have tabs with Flash content opened, so word to the wise: Plan on using an alternate browser.
- I personally HATE the new look of iCal, its previous minimalistic appearance was more mac-like.
- Address Book’s new look isn’t great, but it doesn’t bother me as much. Possibly because I don’t use it as often.
- Front Row is dead. There is a way to get it back, but Apple obviously seems to be steering us in the Apple TV direction and I personally have no plans on going there. Not yet, at least.
My personal conclusion is that Lion is a worthy update for the most part, and quite reasonably priced at $29.99 via App Store (or $69.99 when it becomes available in a USB pen drive sometime this month). I have a MacBook pro from mid-2009 with 4GB of RAM and it’s working very well for me with the new system. I even have the impression things are snappier now, but I know this hasn’t been the case for everyone.