OS X Lion, Yay or Nay?

With the recent Mac event from Apple, I’ve been asking myself, do I like where OS X is going? I’ve only recently enough become a Mac user, picking up a Macbook about a year and a half ago now, so I’ve only ever used Leopard and Snow Leopard. I guess that’s enough time to get over comfortable in an OS. Using Windows or Linux now feels a little alien to me, despite being a Windows user all my life, and using Ubuntu for a significant amount of time.

I love my iPhone, but the whole experience got a little boring for me. I’ve always been jailbroken since 1.1.4 on my original iPhone, so I’ve always had the customisations available on Installer and Cydia, but around the middle of summer, I got fed up and got myself a HTC Desire, and made the leap to Android. I’ll never look back. Which brings me back to my original point - Do I really want my desktop OS to become more like iOS?

Do I really want to limit myself to seeing one app at a time?

It has it’s uses, sure. Hell, I’m using WriteRoom in full screen to type this, but for the most part, I like having windows. I like seeing my contact list on Adium along a strip on the side of my screen, with my browser taking up the rest of the screen. I like spreading this out more on my external monitor. I like being able to see things at a glance. Who’s online, conversations on IRC, whatever webpage I’m on at the moment, my Twitter stream. It’s one thing I never did in Windows (I’m not actually sure why), and something I’m now very used to in OS X. Thankfully this won’t be the only option for developers, but I hope we don’t see apps that force you into full screen, replicating the iOS feel entirely. At least with Mission Control there’s a nice simple way of moving between them.

Do I want my main software source to be an App Store?

In short, yes. I’ve seen the App Store on iPhone revolutionise the mobile platform. And even Installer before that was epic in my books. I can’t say I’m thrilled about an approval process being put in place, but if in return I get a wider range of software, that looks and feels better than current offerings, all from a simple clean interface, I’m all for it.

Do I want Launchpad?

No. I like my Application stack. I love Spotlight. It’s all I need to open up an app. I don’t need to worry about arranging icons meticulously across home screens for easy access, then try search through them for an app when I need it. Any regular apps will fit in my Dock. I know it’s a layer on top of OS X, so it’s completely optional, but still, it’s a layer I’d rather not have there. I’m hoping there is the option to completely disable it.

Does Mission Control look better than Exposé/Spaces/Dashboard?

Yeah, definitely. Grouping windows of the same app together, although looking like it was borrowed from WebOS 2.0, will be a great addition. Exposé really does loose effectiveness when you have a few Finder windows open, along with a few documents, among your browser, IM, etc. So grouping the various apps together will definitely increase visibility of all my windows. I barely use Dashboard at the moment, but if it’s just a quick multi-touch gesture away, I may use it more. This is a matter of wait and see, I’ll probably forget about it again like I currently do. Spaces is another feature I never really use, so seeing this being transformed as a way of switching between full screen apps, Dashboard and my desktop is certainly welcome.

What about other UI elements?

Well, Apple didn’t really say much about these, but there did seem to be two things that emerged from their demos and screenshots, the Dock and Scrollbars. I’m a little confused about things I’ve been hearing about the Dock, and I think it’s one of those things I’ll just have to use to fully understand, but from people’s interpretations, I’m not loving it. But these interpretations could of course be completely wrong, so I think this is one point I’ll just have to bow out of debates on. Disappearing scrollbars seem for the most part to be a good, nice looking idea, but I can see some downfalls. I’m hoping the SDK allows developers to set whether the scrollbar is visible or not, in case it’s not totally obvious that a pane is scrollable.

Overall, I’m both excited and cautious about these developments in OS X. I guess in the end if it means I have a more app-rich OS, that continues to deliver what I love about Mac, along with a few other improvements and niceties, I’ll be happy.