We take a look at how Apple's renewing its love for the Mac and dig into what the new version of Mac OS X, Lion, may mean for Mac users going forward.
When I first saw the combination of features (Exposé, Dashboard, Spaces and full-screen apps) that Apple pulled together to create Mission Control, I was afraid that it could work out very badly. Having had a glimpse at the result, I think Apple did a pretty good, though not perfect, job.
I absolutely love the idea of swiping to move between screens (or Spaces); it's an effective solution for both full-screen apps and traditional windowed applications. I like that Exposé is incorporated, letting you see previews of individual windows and Spaces and switch among them quickly. I can see this combination working brilliantly.
I also like that it's a completely natural carry-over from iOS. Unlike with Launchpad, I think Apple nailed this marriage of features from Mac OS X and iOS, making a really useful new form of navigation.
The one thing that I don't get is making Dashboard a separate screen instead of having it appear on top of the current screen. To me, one of the big advantages of Dashboard is that I don't have to leave what I'm doing to check the weather, verify someone's phone number, control iTunes, make short notes to myself or do some quick adding/subtracting using the calculator. (And that's just a few of the built-in widgets; there are plenty of useful third-party ones as well.) I hope the fact that it was displayed in its own screen was just part of the demo - or that Apple will change it back to its traditional mode before next summer.
The bottom line on Lion
Longtime Mac users (and even some new Mac users or Windows users thinking about making the switch) may be wary of some of the interface changes in Lion. A hesitation about them at this point is a perfectly valid. Apple clearly has some great ideas, but it will come down to how they're implemented to determine if they'll be reasons to celebrate or vilify Mac OS X Lion. And that's something we won't be able to judge for a while yet
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