Mac OS X Lion is definitely a worthy upgrade for all Intel Mac users. Featuring several interface enhancements and useful new features across all the core apps, Mac OS X Lion is an excellent update for the price.
When Apple showed off Mac OS X Lion at the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech earlier this year, it was clear the company had paid attention to its successes with the popular iOS devices, and was now beginning to include successful iOS features in its flagship OS. Also, with Apple laptops and tablets now far outpacing desktop sales, Apple has moved from a primarily desktop computer company to embrace mobile computing. This release of Mac OS X seems to be a reflection of Apple’s successes in those categories.
With this eighth major release of the big-cat OS, Apple is adding more than 250 features. Some are big interface changes, whereas others are smaller refinements with the clear aim of making certain actions easier. Priced at $29.99, the upgrade adds plenty to make it worthwhile for most Mac users, but those who do not have Snow Leopard will need to pay for that upgrade as well. Lion can only be downloaded via the Mac App Store, which was introduced with Snow Leopard.
In Mac OS X Lion, Apple has rethought the concept of scrolling through pages by making the idea of the scroll bar mostly obsolete. Now you can swipe with two fingers to scroll through a Web page or document, but the document moves as though you are actually moving it with your hand. This is different from former scrolling methods, where you would scroll downward with the scroll bar to make a Web page move upward, for example. This might take some getting used to for many people, but we found it very intuitive once we got used to “grabbing” a Web page or scrollable document and moving it. The scroll bar is not completely a thing of the past, however, because it still shows up to indicate where you are on a page and disappears once you’re done scrolling–it’s just that you will mostly no longer need to use it.
Some of the more-useful gestures we found were the aforementioned two-finger scrolling, a three-finger swipe upward to open Mission Control (more on this later), and the three-finger swipe to the side to switch between full-screen applications. All of these gestures are very fluid and intuitive and–once you remember the important ones–should become second nature.
Full-screen apps: One of the more obvious differences between the Windows and Mac operating systems throughout the years was Windows’ ability to easily switch (or maximize) to full screen, while Mac apps would always launch (and remain) in a window. With Mac OS X Lion, you’re now able to switch the core Mac apps to a full-screen view using a diagonal arrow icon in the top right of the app window. Apple’s Mac software that’s separate from the operating system, like iWork and the iLife apps, now have this functionality as well, but you’ll need to update them through the Mac App Store to add full-screen capabilities. Apple says that full screen will be available as an API to third-party developers as well, so expect many of your favorite apps to soon be updated with full-screen support.