Saturday 23 July 2011

Introducing OS X Lion

Written for South African Apple Mac users interested in installing Apple's new operating system, OS X Lion.

I attended an introduction to OS X Lion by Ross Hamber at Digicape Claremont. He made the following points:

Before installing, check your Apple Mac meets these requirements (an Intel processor, 2 GB of memory with Snow Leopard). You should also check that all the applications you want to use are compatible with Lion; lists them plus individual user experiences. Lion users will benefit from having a multi-task trackpad; while the magic mouse can be used, it won't give all the gestures you can use (i.e. swipes with three or four fingers). Also, for safety be sure to do a back-up before starting the installation...

Lion costs $29.99 and its installation is handled via the Mac App store. Select "buy OS X Lion" on, use your existing Apple ID to login; then make payment. To avoid a 24 hour wait for the 4GB download on standard Telkom ADSL, pause it and complete the installation at Digicape. Simply bring the receipt and they install it for you (and should you need multiple installations, Apple gives you a maximum of four licenses per purchase). After rebooting, you'll have the new OS :) !

Ross then showed OS X Lion's introduction presentation. He was excited that "Lion is a whole new cat" and marks major visual changes from the previous operating systems, since Panther and Snow Leopard's were mostly in the background. Lion includes 250 new features and Ross focused on those most users were likely to find useful:
  • Lessons learnt from the iPad and iPhone's use of multi touch gestures show in users now being able to use 3 and 4 fingers to control Launchpad and Mission ControlMission control gives a bird's eye view of activites and switching between them. While similar to spaces, one can move apps, etc. around far more easily (for example, between spaces such as different desktops) . It's a great way to flip between content without requiring two monitors! Launchpad is a hotline to one's applications folder, which now looks very similar to the iPhone and iPad's. Using a three finger swipe, Mac users can now arrange applications in an easier way (grouping applications in a Creativity folder, for example).
  • Full Screen Apps have been built into iPhoto, Safari, iCal, Mail, Photo Booth, et al. allowing users to select a full screen view via a new icon at the top right of the app. Full-screen mode also hides elements; such as the file menu. It is particularly useful on notebook screens (such as the new Mac Air's) and helps if one is moving between multiple accounts.
  • App Store has become the place to download software and new applications should install in just one step.
  • Resume allows one to setup applications in particular screen regions and reopen them there.
  • As its name suggests, Auto Save allows one to save automatically, and creates versions. Versions uses an interface similar to Time Machine; allowing one to refer to earlier file versions. It works with most apps; one must just double-check its available in the software one uses. At the moment it is only included in Apple software, but other developers should eventually the versions feature in their new releases for the Mac.
  • Air drop allows you to share files easily, without worrying about network settings.
  • Mail now includes a three-column widescreen view and allows users to easily view a thread as a conversation. It can easily show a thread 50 messages long, for example. iCal has now also been integrated into Mail.
  • MobileMe has been discontinued and is being replaced by iCloud, which will be supported in South Africa from September, for free.
  • In an advance on previous operating systems, Lion also installs a hidden recovery partition to one's hard- drive from which you can boot should your system encounter problems. Recovery mode creates a hidden partition for rebooting your system from "another" OS, versus a disk. To ease the boredom, one can now use Safari to surf the Web while doing this... Hopefully, I won't be doing any experimentation with this feature, though :).
Ross' presentation was most useful and I can't wait to get going with my new Lion, ROAR!

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