Lion is a dramatic departure from Snow Leopard, with a new, mobile-inspired user interface. Apple reportedly sold 1 million copies of the operating system, priced at $30, in the first day. Nearly all the new features were revealed from the moment Lion hit developers’ previews, so customers knew what they would be getting before they bought.
I can’t complain about the system’s features, speed or usability. It’s forward-looking, user-friendly and evolutionary. That said, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.
But I’m in the minority. Overall, the tech press has high praise for the operating system, which requires devoted Mac users to rewire their brains to think more like an iPad user.
Lion got early and enthusiastic nods from the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg and the New York Times’ David Pogue and has since received strong praise from just about every tech site out there -- from Ars Technica’s breathtakingly long review by John Siracusa to The Loop’s short and sweet take from Jim Dalrymple.
Above all, Lion moves to simplify. It no longer requires users to save documents with Resume. It helps keep users on task by adding full-screen apps. And it unifies navigation with Launchpad, an iOS-like screen that shows all applications in a blow to the traditional hierarchical filing system. AirDrop, when it works, makes it very easy to share files with compatible Macs.
The new system has also made security improvements, The Register reported, making it harder for hackers to exploit bugs. That’s important because Apple’s growing market share is fast drawing the attention of hackers and malware developers.
There have been reports of bugs from users who have found the system to be unstable, occasionally difficult to connect to peripherals and, of course, unable to run older, PowerPC programs.
Apart from that last issue, I haven’t had any of those problems in my time with Lion. My main gripes are nit-picky. Like many tech geeks, I’m fussy — very fussy — about my set-up, and Lion has shaken up plenty of things about the way I use my computer.
For one, Lion reverses what your brain knows about Mac scrolling gestures, replicating how scrolling works on the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. Can I get used to this? Yes. Do I want to? No, not really. Lucky for me, Apple has made it easy to turn off the “Intuitive” scrolling.
The same goes for a myriad of mobilized gestures that can get confusing, even for power users. Do I use the three-finger double-tap or the two-finger double-tap to zoom? (It’s the latter — a three-finger double-tap pulls up the dictionary.) After playing around with the system for a while, I found myself regularly going back to System Preferences to disable new touchpad features because I simply couldn’t keep them straight.
I’m also a fanatical devotee of Spaces, which has been folded with Expose and the dashboard into Mission Control. I may just be crabby, but I don’t like Mission Control very much. Using my hotkeys to zoom around Spaces had become second nature, and I haven’t retrained my fingers to use the four-finger swipe up to scroll through all my desktops yet. I understand the argument that the result is a cleaner interface than Spaces, but I think it’s harder to assign an app to open in a specific space than it used to be. Mission Control may grow on me, but right now I’m stuck in my ways.
So for now, Lion is staying on its own partition on my hard drive, and it may be a while until I decide whether to let it take over my whole computer.
Can I recommend it? Yes, if you think Lion is what you want — especially at that price. But I suggest that if you feel any reluctance about upgrading that you test drive it for a while. Downgrading back to Snow Leopard isn’t difficult , but can be time-consuming.
Are you using Lion? What do you think?