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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

The parts of Lion that I like

September 14, 2011

Chris Coleman on Twitter last night:

All of the things that are great on iOS are the same things that are absolutely worthless in OS X Lion.

Since upgrading to Lion I’ve come to love many of the iOS-lessons-learned that Apple had decided to bring “Back to the Mac” and so I was puzzled by what Chris said. So I asked him to explain further and this is what he said.

launchpad, full screen apps (annoying implementation), infrequently used safari tabs reloading, I’m sure there’s more

And…

I should probably have said some of the great things in iOS make no sense in Lion. Love the reverse scrolling.

I don’t agree with everything Chris tweeted and I thought I would go over these things here rather than via a few replies on Twitter. I’ll take these one-by-one.

I’ve already wrote about why I think Launchpad could be confusing to new and inexperienced users. On Lion applications are able to be installed using the App Store as well as by-hand and it creates a combination of circumstances that make it harder to understand why you can uninstall some applications via Launchpad and not others. That being said, the rest of Launchpad makes perfect sense for new and inexperienced users. I launch applications using Alfred but my mother would love Launchpad. At the time I wrote that post Kyle Slattery tweeted that he rarely removes applications from his Mac and so many people may never experience that confusion. If true, then Launchpad seems like a great addition to Mac OS X.

Although not every application supports Lion’s new full-screen feature yet I’ve been able to put it to good use with Terminal, Mail, Aperture, and Parallels. I’ve used full-screen browsing in Safari a few times and in a few circumstances (which was very handy at the time) but for the most part I only use this feature in those four applications. Could I live without it? Yes. Is it a got-to-have? No. Do I like it? Yes.

To be honest, I’ve never noticed unused tabs in Safari reloading for me. I’m not a tab-hoarder as some are so my experience probably differs from those of you that keep 40, 50 or more tabs open at a time. I’d drive myself crazy with that many tabs open. My connection to the Internet is normally fast enough that I can open a web page and access it fairly quickly. I don’t need to keep them all open. So, perhaps this is annoying for some but for me it goes unnoticed.

Something I do agree with Chris on is Lion’s reverse scrolling. I love it. Like everyone else it took me the better part of a week to catch on and retrain my muscles and brain – but after that it has been very enjoyable to go back and forth between the iPad and my Mac and scroll the same way. One thing I have found, however, is that this particular change has caused me to begin to use some of Lion’s multi-touch gestures on the iPad. So now I’m beginning to wish that some of these gestures move over to the iPad (such as three-finger swipe between apps, two-finger swipe to move forward and backward in my browser, etc.)

Two more features that I adore in Lion; Resume and Versions. Resume is a feature that allows you to resume any application where you left it after you’ve closed it. This is one of those invisible features that once you have it you can not imagine giving it up. Accidentally close a window on Lion with some work in it, open it back up, and you’ll immediately see the value of this feature. Versions, while I have only needed it once, makes it dead simple to go “back-in-time” on a specific file without having to use Time Machine. I don’t know that this came from iOS, perhaps it is simply an extension of the lessons that they’ve learned from the use of Time Machine, but as more and more applications make use of this feature in Lion the more utility it will serve.

For me the best update to Mac OS X was Snow Leopard. It was the update that made my computer much, much faster and much, much more reliable. It was like buying a brand new computer. Lion doesn’t quite feel like that to me but it does do something very important – it begins to bridge the gap between my use of the iPhone and iPad with my Mac. I use all three of these devices every single day and having them all come together has meant that I’m more productive. And that is a very good thing.