Mac OS X Lion: Sneak Peek Analysis

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is here. As we predicted, Apple's operating system is going in the same direction as the iPad - and for good reason. Here is a visual guide to the main features unveiled today.

This article will give you live analysis of the Mac OS X Lion features unveiled today.

Mac OS X Lion is another step in the road to a new - or better said, renewed - computer interface paradigm: modal computing. And along the way, Apple is taking some of the most successful parts of iOS, like the App Store - with automatic installation of applications - and the springboard - rechristened launchpad in Lion. They are also introducing new user interface elements, like Mission Control, to help solve the problems that modal interfaces may bring.

Fullscreen Mode

Fullscreen mode is, for me, the most important aspect of the new operating system. All apps would be able to have a fullscreen mode. That doesn't mean windows are disappearing (yet), but it is clearly a big step towards enabling full modal computing in the future - something that is also indicated by the user interface in iLife '11.

Not only iLife'11 has stages that take completely over the screen to perform an specific function, but they have also rolled in elements like context-aware inline palettes to change text styles. These elements are designed to avoid the need for floating palettes. It's only logical to think that these new interface elements will be included in the application developer arsenal for Mac OS X Lion.

This user interface approach will greatly simplify the use of the computer, getting it closer to the same user experience that 95 per cent of the consumers out there like in their iPhone (or similar smartphones), iPod Touch and iPad. This doesn't mean that the computing experience will be less powerful than today. All the contrary, in fact. Apple is empowering users to more effectively tackle their tasks.

In fact, if you look at high-end professional apps - like Final Cut Pro - you will see the same behaviour: The ability of software to take over the whole screen to perform an specific task, with no floating windows. I've no doubt that windows will eventually be completely replaced, even for applications like Photoshop.

Modal computing can bring some problems, however. You need to give the user an effective way to switch effectively between tasks, fast and without confusion. From the demo today, Apple may have found an elegant solution - Mission Control - to both managing modal apps and multiple windows apps.

The good: Simplify the computing experience, centre it around the task, which is what the user is interested on. Pave the way to full touch computing (which, have no doubt, will come in the next generation - you just have to look at those iPhoto screens).

The bad: None that I can see. It seems that Apple is taking steps to avoid the potential problems that fullscreen computing may bring.


Launchpad works exactly like in the iPad. It shows all the applications installed in your computer, which are managed by the App Store, with multiple pages to navigate using gestures.

Mission Control

Mission Control is actually a new Exposé, integrating the Dock, Dashboard and views from all open apps, both windowed and fullscreen.

Mac App Store

The Mac App Store works exactly like the iOS App Store. Same main navigation bar and same managing, which is to say: no managing at all. When you buy an app through the store, your Mac will automatically install that app in the Launchpad.

This may seem stupid for power users, but if you have ever deal with normal computer users, installing apps is a nightmare even with the Mac drag-and-drop system.



    I'm not a great fan of this interface. Computers are meant to be more complex then this. That might seem stupid, but if the mac computers are turning into glorified ipads... it will lose some of its target audience. Anyway, the point of apps is so they are portable, good for a quick play on the bus. If I'm at home, id play tf2, not angry birds.
    It'd just crowd up the computer, slowing it down
    If I want apps, that's what the ipod's for.

      So you think Apple is going to make money buy making things MORE complicated to use? wow.....

      Actually, this will improve the efficiency of computers. All the power is still there, switching between apps is easier, and the app can be concentrated in fully. In addition, research has shown that humans are not designed for the multitasking abilities in computers, and that the complexity actually reduces efficiency and induces stress. This interface doesn't remove any of the computing complexity or power, but reduces any stress and increases efficiency, nothing but pros, and if you don't like it, then you don't have to go to full screen mode, it's entirely optional, but personally I find it a cleaner and more refreshing interface - and I'm a power user.

    I see. So, we're moving from a file based UI to an app/task oriented one. Files have become too numerous to deal with individually, so instead the basic building block of the UI - the icon - comes to represent the apps that manage these large volumes of files (which stay discretely in the background, in the cloud or elsewhere).

    I guess some people aren't realising that Launchpad is an app, not the entire UI. Watch the video again...

    You can still always mash cmd+shift+a to get to Applications, if you really want. It's more "added on" than replacing key components. He doesn't have anything on his desktop, as per 10.6 default install (hiding MacHD, for example).

    Interesting, but those magic mice suck. If you're going to do proper gestures, you need the trackpad; the magic mouse moves too much to effectively do a left-swipe.

    Running out of cats, and also, it seems, running out of ideas.

    'Awesome'? What's awesome about it? A simple way of installing apps, that's cool. 'Launchpad'? 'Mission Control'? How are these things awesome? Or is it because it makes you think of rocket ships? zooooooooom!

    Dear Apple, A computer isn't an iPhone or an iPad, a computer needs to do so much more. Please tell me that this crossed your mind when designing Lion, because to be honest.. it doesn't look like it.

    Just because something is simple, doesn't mean it's bad. It can be a more efficient way of doing things. What's wrong with integrating the things we love on our phone's into our computers, providing an alternative and better way to use them.

    These are only a few of the features being introduced. So don't think this is just it.

      Thank god someone else realised this.

      It's ADDED ON to the UI, not replacing it. Geez. If you don't wanna use it, don't. Simple.

    Don't most serious users of Photoshop use two or more monitors?

    Fullscreen/modal would definitely not make them happy.

    What real benefit is there to fullscreen/modal view as apposed to, i don't know, clicking on that maximise button?

    Way to talk up some pretty mediocre features.

    I think modal useage would have to be experienced before people comment toooo much on it. But of course we have our impressions. And for me, as someone who uses a PC but envies some of my friends quick actions on his mac - im not so sure ill be envying much longer...

    They are essentially saying all those free little applications you used to download from around the internet will not be for sale in their app store - earning them a nice little profit. They have been quite clever in this regard - but it's not something i could see myself employing very often...

    still no word on more important things like adding USB 3.0 ... and no surprise from the glowing review from gizmodo...

    I don't think this is easy to judge just by looking at pictures and videos.

    With full-screen apps, Apple is "empowering" users, huh? Only a true Apple fanatic make such a fawning statement about such a mundane 'feature'.

    Windows boxes can run anything full-screen. Have been able to since ... oh ... forever. It's nothing new, nothing special, nothing clever and nothing even particularly difficult.

    Allowing a full-screen mode is not empowering. It's just changing a screen mode.

    First off, I think we all ought to remember that Apple has never handed us anything godawful.

    Secondly, lion actually looks to be a great OS. It does everything it could do before, but has OPTIONAL added features. It could only be better than before.

    Furthermore, lion is also very different from snow leopard, in the sense that there are very distinguishing factors between the two.
    That makes the change noticeable, refreshing, if you will. I personally love updating any of my IOS devices.
    For example, when the IOS 4.1 came out for iPhones and iPods, the multitasking and folders was a great idea that EVOLVED the OS. Yet no one is required nor forced to use either.

    Exactly the same principle applies to Lion OS.

    I can't see what the problem is here? I'm sure apple is not removing any of the power from the computer... I'm sure they're not removing the mouse or keyboard (which will happen, eventually). I don't see what change they've made which will reduce the power, productivity or flexibility. In effect, computers are still (and probably always will be) evolving, and apple (again, as always) are leading the way with innovation.

    If this means applications are going to conform and become simpler to use, then thats better for us all, but I'm still sure the app developer can do whatever the hell they want, as long as it doesn't harm the system.

    When they're talking about "Easier to use" they mean "Easier to learn"... The amount of "ease of use" a computer has really depends on what the user wants to do with it. And, I'm sure 95% of users don't give a shit about half the crap that goes on with windows/pre lion osx and just want to write an email, listen to music or check facebook the quickest/easiest way possible. Not write command line statements to load outlook or hacking around in config files.

      And in September, expect ipad 3 on Mac OS X Lion

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