OSX Lion Issues, New Features and New Directions
It only seemed like minutes after the new Apple operating system was released before the OSX Lion issues and rumblings of discontentment started rolling into the Apple & Adobe forums and industry blogs. It's inevitable and it always happens. The difference this time around is that for the first time ever, the operating system is only available as a download from the App Store - and a very reasonably priced one at that.
So there are many more people downloading it, which means a higher proportion of disgruntled customers (see below). This is why (much as I want to dive in and taste [some] of the new features) I always force myself to wait until some of the inevitable bugs have been ironed out.
So what are the great features it's promising, and where's it falling down? ...and what are the OSX Lion issues?
Whenever I watch an Apple Keynote video (which I find strangely compelling - damn they're good at marketing), I find myself murmuring 'that's cool' quite a lot. (Except when they launched the iPad - then I murmured 'what the fxxx?' - but that's another story).
This time around I really liked the look of the cosmetic features like the new Apple Mail layout - you can now look at a series of Re: emails in a logical, conversational sequence rather than as an enormously lengthy bullet list with endless indents. Like SMS on the iPhone.
Then there's the new "Versions" document history which let's you browse through endless incarnations of a document (presumably any document…?) throughout its development process. Basically it's Time Machine with bells on.
That's quite cool.
Full Screen Apps
Full screen applications is on the list (presumably for any application…?)… This could be cool, except that I've spent the last decade getting used to flicking between applications by using the Command-Shift keys, so full screen apps will probably be a hindrance. I can see the appeal for some applications though, so it has the potential to be quite cool… starting to take on the guise of an iPad though...
Reminding myself of the top features from the Apple site, I see that the number one is the introduction of multi-touch gestures.
That's not cool.
I don't use a laptop at work - I use a desktop. Apple are clearly sidelining desktop machines in favour of notebooks and smart devices - so it might be cool for some, but I barely use the trackpad even on my Powerbook. And let me tell you, trackpads a good workflow do not make. But I can live with one 'not cool'. Just one.
And yet here's another. Mission Control. I never got the hang of using Exposé and Spaces, so I don't use them. And Dashboard only makes a very rare appearance when I want to quickly hide everything on the screen because my wife just walked in. Very rare. So combining them all into a bucketful of features I won't use?
Auto-save? Not cool. I so regularly hit Command-S now that I don't even think about it. And I only do it when I want the document to be saved - not when the computer decides.
Mac App store? Er… don't we already have that? And hang on… with the multi-touch gestures, full screen apps and App Store, aren't the computers slowly morphing into iPads? All we need now is an interface where the applications appear on a grid like eggs in a box and the transition will be complete…
Enter Launchpad. LaunchPAD… iPAD… Apart from anything else, does anyone remember Apple's clunky Launcher application before the days of OSX? I do. I didn't use that either.
Definitely not cool.
And the Bad News?
So what's the verdict? I paint quite a dark picture, but actually it's not all doom and gloom - as long as the system works and integrates seamlessly with other software, I'm sure everything will work in the user's favour… Except here's the bad news. Many of the features don't work with software that hasn't been adapted for the system - which includes the current Adobe Suite. And worse still, according to ZDNet some applications seem to have stopped working altogether:
"Specific problems range from minor, such as the Dreamweaver CS4 colour picker not functioning correctly, to the more serious, such as Flash Builder 4 not functioning at all. Adobe also recommends that Flash Builder 4.5 users do not update to Mac OS X Lion due to issues that "may degrade the user experience or affect use of the product"."
Of course the answer to many of the OSX Lion issues was succinctly put by another member of the Adobe Forum in reply to the Flash colour picker issue:
"Sorry for the inconvenience. OS X Lion did not exist at the time Adobe Flash CS4 was developed and as a result it's not supported."
So actually, it's nobody's fault. Software has to move forward, and if Apple waited for everyone to catch up before making bold moves then they'd still be based out of a garage somewhere. And Adobe can't really be blamed for waiting for the next major release of Creative Suite before dancing to Apple's tune - they're not exactly best buds at the moment.
It'll all come out in the wash and everything will be rosy again until the next release - but I'm still going to wait and see what happens before accidentally downloading Lion from the App Store.
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