The final product 'released' back three days ago by Apple was a series of sneak previews of their all-new operating system, Mac OS X Lion (hereafter referred to as Lion). Much like Windows, Mac releases their new operating systems every few years, but unlike Windows they have awesome names. Whilst Windows relase 'vista' and '7', Mac release 'snow leopard' and 'lion', which sounds much cooler. All Mac OSs are named after big cats, the best names being 'OS Lynx' and 'OS Tiger' from a few years back.
I'm currently running the second-latest Mac OS, OS X Leopard. Since then, there's been a small upgrade pack called Snow Leopard which includes a couple of extra features and some bug fixes, but I left that one alone since it wasn't worth the £50 it costs. But, at long last, we've heard the first news of the latest all-new Mac OS, called Mac OS X Lion. It's got a bunch of new features...
First up on this list of features (because no doubt there'll be others) is a new application that comes with the OS package called the Mac App Store. Apparently Mr. Jobs wanted to integrate lots of iPad features into OS X, to make it a much more enjoyable and graphics-based experience. Part of the iPad integration is this app store, but for Mac apps, which is a great idea. Mac apps are way too hard to find, and the app listings on the Apple site are a nightmare to navigate. Maybe this Mac App Store will open up Mac apps to a wider audience, and create a vibrant range of new Mac apps. My hopes are for it to be a lot like Valve's Steam games portal.
Then we have a new desktop feature called Launch Pad, which presents all your apps in an iPad format, displayed in a grid across your screen with way too much spacing. Sure, it's reminiscent of the iPad, but I feel like it needs a big more Mac-ness, otherwise it seems stuck onto the OS. Different ways of ordering the apps could be useful, plus an option to disable apps from appearing in Launch Pad. One of my friends, when I showed him this, said "but I have way too many apps... it'd still be hard to find them all", and I so totally agree. The Applications folder is useless for apps, but a bit more user-friendliness with buttons and options could potentially make Launch Pad great. We'll have to see how it actually works. The folders (above) look like a good idea, though.
Next up we have yet another desktop feature called Mission Control. And it seems to be almost as bad as its name. Apparently it collates everything you're doing on your Mac to serve as one giant F11 key (F11 is 'see all windows'). You've got the Dashboard (a space to arrange widgets, much like the Windows Vista sidebar), Exposé (showing all windows at one time) and Spaces (having more than one desktop so you can arrange apps across different spaces). I do like the feature which shows windows of the same app next to each other (top-right in the picture above shows two Safari windows grouped), much like Windows 7 I'll have to admit, but otherwise it just seems like an extension on Exposé. Plus, I don't understand why iPhoto is at the top in a little preview image and the other apps are big in the centre. Minimised perhaps? It's not explained. It's a useful feature, but I think it should just be the next stage for Exposé.
Well, that's all we've got of Lion so far. Apple say it'll be released in Summer 2011, so it's just under a year until it gets released. Sigh. I hope the future brings more features, creating a real forward step for Mac OS X. I'd like to see something really different, and much more ergonomic, rather than a few extra features to the old OS. We'll see.