I just started my download of the latest version of Apple‘s operating system, OS X Lion. Unlike any previous operating system from Apple, Lion (aka OS X 10.7) can be purchased only from Apple’s Mac App Store. The $29 purchase delivers a 3.74 GB download of the new operating system which will presumable automatically begin its installation once download completes.
I only just began my download so I am making myself my own guinea pig. I feel I should say that if you do decide to upgrade your operating system to Lion today, do a full backup of your system. Only install the new OS if you are certain all of your apps are compatible. To do this, check out Roaring App’s table of Lion compatibility.
Also, it is always best to wait at least a few weeks before joining in on a major operating system upgrade, especially if you are doing so on your workhorse machine. Let’s see what the bugs are, if your printer is supported, if it corrupts harddrives, etc. That being said, here goes!
For those who don’t know, this is the culmination of Apple engineers tweaking and adding to the features of Snow Leopard, their previous operating system, while borrowing generously from their own touch-based operating system.
In this version of their desktop operating system, Apple extends the gestures first seen in Leopard to unify the desktop to a touch interface, without relying on a capacitive monitor. Hewlett-Packard and Dell have both sold touch-based desktop systems for years. From HP it is their TouchSmart line of computers while Dell has the Inspiron One with its optional touch screen.
The problem with both of these systems is apparent after a short while using them. Sitting at a traditional desk and reaching up and out constantly to navigate your screen isn’t only fatiguing, it isn’t intuitive. Tapping the tiny dialog options or changing the size of a window is a certified pain in the ass.
Apple, on the other hand, released two years ago the Magic Track Pad, along with the Magic Mouse. Both of these input devices use a table-top touch interface. Their names make the pretty self-explanatory but it is worth nothing that the track pad is pretty gigantic.
What else besides gestures does Lion bring? I won’t bore you with the details, as there are over 250 changes but here are a few highlights.
- Major upgrades in accessibility for those who need it (check the list out here).
- Totally revamped core applications like Mail, Address Book, iCal etc.
- Automatically saves versions of documents as you edit them, Time Machine per app.
- Automatically resumes where you left off after a restart or simply an apps last state.
- Full screen apps, again taking note from their iOS.
- Social integration takes your social contacts and sends them to Address book.
- Digital delivery means you no long have to keep track of the install DVD.
- Easily restore to a fresh install of Lion with its new partition-based install support.
- More powerful search throughout the operating system.
- New Dashboard and Expose combo called Mission Control, again an iOS touch.