When Steve Jobs announced Lion earlier this year, I had blocked my calendar for its July launch. The operating system (OS) will, of course, generate lots of passion: love from Apple geeks and hate from those who see Apple as just another company pretending to be special. I will try the impossible here—present a balanced view of OS X Lion.
It is distributed as an over-the-internet upgrade. You can buy it for $29.99 from the iTunes store. I downloaded the 4 GB package in 20 minutes. But then came a two-hour wait, while my Mac was upgraded and its files re-indexed (about 150 GB of data and 20 GB of email). After two hours, though, I was smiling like a boy with a new toy.
If you don’t have broadband or want to keep the Mac offline, Lion will be available on a USB Flash drive for $69.99 this August.
So, what’s new here?
First, the system does not slow down because of the upgrade. Next, you can see from the login screen onwards that the design is cleaner, and multi-touch gestures, like those in the iPad, can now be used on the Mac. For example: you can double-finger zoom, and scroll with a single finger.
Like the iPad and iPod, the Mac too has a Launchpad now. With it, you can find all your apps in one place and also customise and organise what you want to see. All it takes is a three-finger pinch on the track pad.
A new feature that I have become very fond of is the Application Resume. With it, my Mac restarts exactly how it was before shutdown. The same applications open up, with the same words highlighted; even the cursor is in the same place. You will realise this feature’s value once a software upgrade demands an entire system reboot while you are in the midst of something important.
Apple’s OS X upgrade has over 250 changes. And Jobs has once again proved that a new OS is not about cosmetic changes. It is about a better, more intuitive user experience.