There. It’s done. Apple’s latest, and probably last, cat is out of the bag and in the wild. And showing up on millions of Macs throughout the world.
Mac OS X Lion easily is the strangest beast in Apple’s litter. Besides the $29 price tag, what makes Lion a worthy successor to previous Mac versions? Is it all good? Or, is there some ugly lurking in the bushes or in your face?
Apple: The Future Is Here. Deal With It
Without question, with Lion, Apple does what Apple does best. Drag the customer base, kicking and screaming with pain and pangs, into the future. Strangely, the future for Mac users is more like the today for iPhone and iPad users.
Lion still runs your favorite Mac apps. If they happen to be Intel-based apps, not legacy apps from yesteryear’s PowerPC Macs.
Sorry. No Rosetta for you. PowerPC apps are left behind. That means no Quicken for Mac 2007. You’ll need to find another Mac app to handle your money. Even Intuit’s new Quicken is still missing features that kept the old Quicken running on millions of Macs (not a scientific count).
The Good News And Bad News About Lion
Apple has had so much success with the iPhone, the App Store, iOS, that you just knew some of what they thought made those products successful would show up for Mac users.
With Lion, there are plenty of Apple mobile device features to love and loathe.
The good news is that there’s no long line to wait in at the Apple Store. The bad news is that there are no free bottles of chilled water.
The good news is that there are no shrink wrapped packages to litter the landscape. The bad news is that there are no new T-shirts for being the first privileged few to stand in line.
Downloads R Us
The good news is that Lion can be downloaded from the Mac App Store. The bad news is that you can’t buy Lion anywhere else. The good news is that Lion installs quickly and easily. The bad news is that you must have Mac OS X Snow Leopard and the Mac App Store to buy and download Lion.
The good news is that Lion still looks mostly like Snow Leopard. The bad news is that Lion also looks like the interface for iPhone and iPad. The good news is that you can still buy a physical disk of Lion. The bad news is that it’s a USB thumb drive. In August. The good news is that Lion only costs $29 to download. The bad news is that the USB version will be $69.
Patience may be a virtue, but it costs more.
The good news is that most popular Mac apps will run just fine in Lion. The bad news is that some apps will need to be upgraded to enable all features Adobe and Microsoft? We’re looking at you. It’s the future. Get here already.
The good news is that Lion’s new Airdrop (share files with other nearby Macs) is very cool and it just works. The bad news is that it only works with newly minted Macs with Wi-Fi Airport. If your Mac is three years old it may not have made the Airdrop list.
Where Is The Mac’s Finder?
The good news is that Apple finally decided to do something about the Mac’s aging, creaking, cranky Finder. The bad news is that the Finder doesn’t look so much like the finder.
The good news is that Spaces and Expose are gone. The bad news is that they’ve been replaced by something new to learn. Launchpad and Mission Control. The good news is, well, they’re both easy and useful.
The bad news is, the first thing Lion does once it’s installed on your Mac is to tell you it’s time to learn something new. The first thing. You get a dialog box which tells you how to scroll. Yes, scroll. Specifically, up and down. It’s changed. The good news is that scrolling backwards (or, upside down), if you give it a day or two, is a worthwhile improvement.
The Mac Meets iPhone And iPad
The good news for many tens of millions of iPhone and iPad users who love their mobile device interface is that it’s on the Mac now as Launchpad. The bad news is that those bouncing, animated dialog boxes on iPhone and iPad are now on the Mac.
The good news is that Apple wants us to learn something new, and gave us full screen options which really means full screen. The bad news is that full screen also removes the venerable Mac Menubar from sight. It’s gone, but magically ready to reappear if you click the right button.
The good news is that swiping to navigate apps is easy to learn and use. Swipe down to go up. Swipe up to go down. However, you swipe right to go back to a page in Safari, then swipe left to go back the other way.
It’s strange, but it works.
Mac OS X Lion is easily the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Apple’s 21st century OS versions. The actual download and upgrade to Lion was flawless. Fewer options, fewer buttons, less waiting, more me time.
The glitches were few. iTunes 10.4 would not install on two of four Macs. The first time. A reboot solved the problem. There’s no Java Runtime in Lion, so some Adobe apps won’t work correctly. Fortunately, Java for OS X Lion is easily downloaded, though some Adobe app quirks remained.
Mail took a long, long time to update many thousands of messages going back to the last century, but emerged from what seemed like a frozen app to a new Mail interface. Some Safari extensions had to be reinstalled (Xmarks and 1Password, for example).
Otherwise, the upgrade from Snow Leopard to Lion was uneventful. Gone are the Aqua candy scroll bars. Think iPhone and iPad. Fortunately, many of the iOS inspired options can be turned off in System Preferences.