Apple has a history of releasing two distinct types of operating systems. Some Like Tiger have been revolutionary updates full of new features that have transitioned the Macintosh from one architecture to the next. Others like Snow Leopard have been evolutionary updates full of refinements that have axed legacy compatibility and returned the Macintosh to stable ground. The next release of Mac OS X will be revolutionary. Lion is poised to transition the Macintosh away from its roots of point and click and closer to a gesture rich iOS inspired future.
“The iPad has inspired a new generation of innovative features in Lion,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “Developers are going to love Mission Control and Launchpad, and can now start adding great new Lion features like full screen, gestures, Versions and Auto Save to their own apps.”
Lion brings the full screen experience that iPad users love to the Mac. With the exception of video playback and games Apple has never condoned a full screen mode on the Macintosh. Hiding the Menubar, eliminating the boundaries of the application window, and bringing content to the screens edge has always gone against the Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines. But because of the success of iOS the full screen experience is now part of Lion, and the transition away from application windows has begin.
Mission Control is a powerful, entirely new feature that unifies Exposé, Dashboard, Spaces, and full screen apps to give you a bird’s eye view of every app and window running on your Mac. Unlike iOS every application on the Mac will not occupy the entire screen. Switching between applications on Lion could be difficult if windowed applications are hiding behind their full screen counterparts. Mission control replaces the Expos√© behavior for showing all windows, giving all applications equal billing even if they normally occupy the entire screen.
Launchpad gives you instant access to your apps – iPad style. Just click the Launchpad icon in your Dock, and open windows fade away, replaced by an elegant, full-screen display of all your apps just as they would appear on the iOS home screen. Even the Launchpad’s superficial folders resemble the folders in iOS. The Dock is being phased out in Lion, and the Finder may be next. The future of application launching on the Mac is Launchpad, and the natural way to navigate Launchpad is multi-touch gestures.
Multi-Touch Gestures make everything you do on iPad easy and intuitive. Now a richer Multi-Touch experience comes to the Mac. I hope you have your Magic Trackpad ready because Lion’s
realistic gesture responses, including rubber-band scrolling, page and image zoom, and full-screen swiping are everywhere. Gestures are practically required to enter Mission Control, switch between full screen apps, or swipe between pages of apps on Launchpad. The dominance and precision of the mouse is being superseded by the popular appeal and versatility of multi-touch in Mac OS X Lion.
iOS doesn’t have a save command, and now Mac OS X Lion doesn’t have to be one either.
Auto Save in Mac OS X Lion automatically saves your work – while you work – so you don’t have to. Auto Save is one feature from iOS everyone can enjoy even if they aren’t fond of gestures. It not only preserves the state of your documents, but contributes to preserving the state of your applications as well.
Resume, which conveniently brings your apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app. Resume means knowing which applications are running are your Mac is no longer important. Everything launches faster, and applications that take advantage of Resume start up right where they left off just like on iOS. The status indicators for active applications have been removed from the Dock in Lion, and the line between active and non active applications has narrowed.
Just like Mail on iPad, Mail 5 in Mac OS X Lion features a new layout that takes advantage of the widescreen display on your Mac. Of course Mail is not the first application to be inspired by the iPad and iOS. Ever since the Mac App Store made its debut on Snow Leopard we have seen the Macintosh flooded with applications that closely resemble the user interface on iOS. Even more disturbing is that applications like the Address Book are following in Mail’s footsteps. By resembling the iPad Contacts application Lion’s Address Book looks just like a real world address book complete with cover, binding, and matching bookmark. Is Mac OS X Lion taking its user interface queues from Microsoft Bob? I thought computers interfaces were over resembling real world objects?
Mac OS X Lion has even more features to share like Versions, AirDrop, and a all-new FileVault. This makes Lion one of the most feature rich releases of Mac OS X in a long time. The question is with all of this new iOS inspired functionality what is the Mac losing? The answer is the old way of doing thing. Lion’s features emphasize multi-touch gestures, full screen apps, and making the Mac a familier experience for iOS. Point and click, windowed applications, and the Dock are all on their way out. Lion may not be the last Mac OS, but it is certainly the first step towards an iOS favored future.