If you were to walk around the Taylorsville Redwood Campus of Salt Lake Community College on a busy day you would find many students with laptop computers open in the public areas. More than several of those laptops would surely be various models made by Apple. Whether this is a representative sample of computer use on college campuses in general or not, Apple seems to have a more than normal popularity at Utah’s largest community college. For this reason Apple’s new operating system, OS X Lion, is our subject today. We’ll start with a few key new features.
In recent years Apple’s laptops have had larger trackpads without separate buttons. The trackpad itself acts as one large button. These models are ready for Lion’s new gestures. The gestures also work with the Magic Trackpad and somewhat with the Magic Mouse. These gestures are designed to allow you to switch between active applications, your desktop and dashboard widgets using Mission Control. You can also use gestures to scroll, zoom and navigate in Safari. Some gestures are also supported in the latest version of iPhoto. If you want to open, navigate and organize applications like on an iPad, one gesture gets you to Launchpad, which looks and works very much like the interface of the iPad home screen.
Several of OS X’s built-in apps and also Apple’s iLife and iWork apps are becoming full screen capable. This allows you to work or play with them without seeing any distractions. When they are in full screen mode they also get their own space in Mission Control, so it is easy to switch between full screen apps and your desktop.
Mac App Store
The Mac App Store was introduced later in the Snow Leopard version of OS X. This store is an easy way to buy and update Mac applications. The Mac App Store is Apple’s way to buy OS X Lion.
Auto Save and Versions
If you have lost your work after making several changes, auto save and versions should help. Apple’s website says, “Auto Save in OS X Lion automatically saves your work, while you work, during pauses and every five minutes.” Versions allows you to navigate a history of previous versions of your document, restore them, or copy from them into the current version. For the person trained to obsessively press “command-s,” this now saves a new version of the document. Auto Save and versions works with Apple’s applications and third-party applications that have added these features. These features are turned on after you do the initial save.
The scroll direction of OS X Lion is opposite of what it was with Snow Leopard. This can be turned off if you prefer the old way. This was probably done to make it feel more like an iPad interface. Some features, like multi-touch gestures and AirDrop file transfer require certain newer hardware and are not available on all Apple models. The hardware requirements are on the Apple website under OS X Lion Tech Specs.
OS X Lion in many ways took feature of iOS used on the iPad and iPhone and brought them to the Mac. At $29.00, Lion is affordable and has many new features that make it worth the low price. As with any new release, Apple is sure to find some flaws and work them out in its periodic minor updates. This article was written using the Lion version of Pages.