Apple hasn't exactly paid a ton of attention to Mac OS X since the iPhone came out. There, I said it.

This was obvious even in the lead-up to Leopard in 2007, when Apple delayed that OS's release from a spring timeframe to October so that they could get the iPhone out the door. Since then, we've gotten Snow Leopard (a "no new features" release that did a lot to optimize the platform at the expense of aging PowerPC Macs) and a long string of point updates that have done plenty to polish the OS but not much to advance it. Using OS X today is fundamentally much the same as it was four years ago, though we're doing it on hardware that's four years faster.

 

Lion, originally unveiled in October of 2010, is Apple's attempt to get "back to the Mac," which when translated from Apple into English means that the company wanted to port some ideas and some functionality from iOS into OS X, which parallels iOS's journey from a touch-driven iPod interface to an increasingly OS X-flavored standalone OS. With Lion, Apple wants to do for its Mac software what it did for its Mac hardware with the MacBook Air - bring concepts people like in tablets to full-featured computers.

One of our goals with a Lion review, then, is to separate the actual useful features from the fluff - what has OS X borrowed from iOS, and does it really improve and make sense for the platform? What functionality feels grafted-on, and what feels like it's been missing from the platform for years?

Another important goal will be to determine the direction in which Lion moves the platform, because new OS X releases tend to be messages just as much as operating systems: Leopard, with its two-and-a-half-year development cycle, told people that OS X's fast-paced, sometimes chaotic early phase was officially over. Snow Leopard told PowerPC users to get with the times or get off the train (or, to put it positively, that Intel was the future and that developers needed to take fuller advantage of the architecture's strengths).

So what is Lion trying to tell us? Read on and find out.

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  • ebolamonkey3 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Not seeing them :( Reply
  • LeTiger - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Ever fix the 17in Sata 3 bugs????

    Such a shame to belligerently cripple their flagship laptop...
    Reply
  • Conficio - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    "There is one huge limitation though: running apps in full screen in multi-monitor setup is unusable."

    As full screen apps are essentially spaces, there is a huge need (and there was for a long time) to be able to manage spaces per screen. All that would be solved if I coul switch between the spaces in a single screen only or move around entire spaces from one screen to another. That would solve this issue and allow a more task oriented kind of work, where you open a space for every task (or project in a multi tasking sense) you are working on and you can open the various apps you need to work on that project. But then that is the opposite of opening all past docs in an app (?)
    Reply
  • Conficio - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    "If you were able to include the location in the Quick Add, Quick Add would actually provide a great overall solution for adding new events, but now you need to add the location separately, which kind of defeats the purpose."

    This concept is as ripe as a green banana. I want to be able to mark the text in an e-mail in order to create an event (with link back to the original e-mail). That way I can work with the lazy people that send invitations in any other format than calendar.

    Byt the way go even one more step Appple, and scan all e-mail for addresses, contact info and events and highlight those and with a single click allow me to add the info to my address book or calendar (and with an option send to others in a iCal or vCard format). That would be real progress!
    Reply
  • teryan2006 - Saturday, July 23, 2011 - link

    umm… I've been doing what you describe, highlighting text in Mail in order to create an event since 10.5. (screenshot: http://cl.ly/25402N2W2E0n281W0r09 )

    Same thing with the email address and contact info. They've been in Mail ever since they added data detectors. http://cl.ly/3V2q0D1z1x1M1X2q0v1v

    If you hover near an email address, time, date, street address, there's a dropdown button that shows up. New in 10.7 is QuickLook style preview for URL in a message

    Did you disabled data detectors? Maybe that's why you're not seeing these things?
    Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    "I don’t find any use for Launchpad. It's one of the less successful iOS imports - it doesn’t fit in, nor does it bring anything truly new,"

    I think this was a foolish comment. The first sentence is fine, the second is not.
    Not every feature in an OS upgrade is targeted at the same collection of users --- I, for example, couldn't care less about full disk encryption.

    I know for a fact that naive users (precisely the people who don't understand the file system, a class you seem to accept does exist) are completely unfamiliar with the Applications folder. For THIS sort of user, Launchpad is exactly what they need --- an easily understood way to run programs they don't frequently run.

    As for you and I, we can just ignore it --- just I like ignore Japanese input methods, or LDAP support, or a hundred other aspects of my mac that aren't relevant to my particular situation.
    Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    To follow up on what I said, comparing Launchpad with a Stacks view of the Application folder kinda misses the point. The sort of naive user we're discussing doesn't understand that he may have apps sitting on the desktop, or in the Downloads folder, or in the Utilities folder of /Applications.

    The Stacks view you describe is limited precisely because it is based on PLACE, not on on TYPE, whereas what users almost always want is based on TYPE.

    The fact that it does not honor your pre-existing folder structure is, I would say, in Apple's eyes a temporary issue. Consider iTunes. iTunes doesn't create playlists based on how you grouped songs in the file system --- it assumes that your songs are stored in some bag in the file system somewhere that you will never look at, and imposes its own structure on that content. Launchpad is a vastly simplified version of that same idea, and part of the constant theme throughout Apple's past five+ years of UI work --- arrange content using appropriate metaphors in a high level app, NOT using a limited set of constructs at the file system level.
    Reply
  • hanssonrickard - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    For example, then macbook pro 15" 2.4 Ghz Core2Duo from early 2008 does NOT support AirDrop.

    Here is compatiblitly list for it and maybe the article shouldbe updated with some kind of note that not all macs will support airdrop.

    Info from "http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4783"

    ----
    Macs that support AirDrop in OS X Lion

    The following list shows the earliest of each Mac model type that is supported. If your Mac is the same, or newer than the model listed, then it supports AirDrop.

    MacBookPro (Late 2008 or newer)
    MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
    MacBook (Late 2008 or newer)
    iMac (Early 2009 or newer)
    Mac Mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
    Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010)
    ------
    Reply
  • makruger - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Too bad it won't run on normal PC hardware without becoming an iHack Reply
  • Sapan - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Does anyone know for sure if OSX Lion enables TRIM Support for 3rd Party SSDs?
    I know 10.6.8 enabled TRIM for Apple SSDs.
    Could you provide some background/link to how you got that info please?
    Reply

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