Initial Thoughts on Lion

Lion IconIt’s been a week since the full version of Lion was released to the general public, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on Lion, plus some information on how I’m tentatively planning to cover Lion with ScreenCastsOnline tutorials.

What I won’t do is slavishly describe each feature – at least not in this blog post!

There have been literally hundreds of blog posts describing most of the new features of Lion, so I’d rather pick out a few of the highlights, or features that I think will be the most significant as we move forward.

A New Way of Working

Reverse Scrolling – OK, so not earth shaking, but I think Apple are correct in that this does seem to be the most “natural” way to scroll when using a trackpad. I’ve seen lots of comments about it being problematic when using a scroll wheel mouse, but as I haven’t used one of those for ages, I can’t comment on that.

The main thing is, give it a try. Not for a few hours but a few days, it’s amazing how quickly you’ll pick it up. If you’re constantly switching between Snow Leopard and Lion, try installing Scroll Reverser on your Snow Leopard machine for consistency.

As an aside, you can switch off reverse scrolling (or as Apple like to call it “Natural Scrolling”) in System Preferences.

  • For Trackpad users – System Preferences – Trackpad – Scroll & Zoom – Scroll Direction
  • For Mouse users – System Preferences – Mouse – Move content in the direct of finger…

NoteThese appear to work in unison so it doesn’t look like you can configure individually

I’ve actually had to switch this new behaviour off on my my main production Mac Pro, but only because I use a Wacom Pen tablet. This already allows me to use “natural” scrolling when using the pen, but the new “natural” scrolling in Lion messes this up.

Mission Control – Not using it as much as I thought I would but liking the new combined approach of Dashboard, Spaces and Exposé in a single mechanism.

Full Screen View – Not so much use on a 30″ dual monitor display, but perfect for a 11″ or 13″ MacBook Air. Just one word about using dual displays, only the primary monitor is utilised for the main full screen window, the secondary display goes blank.

However, if the application uses multiple inspectors or tool palettes, you can drag these onto the secondary display, so it’s not completely useless!

Gestures – Not been using gestures much on the main Mac Pro (due to the pen tablet) but starting to train myself on the MacBook Air trackpad. Loving some of the synergy/similarity to the iPad.

Significant Changes to Document Handling

Auto Save & Resume – Huge, huge, huge! These will save so many people’s bacon it’s untrue. You can work on a document in an application that has Auto Save enabled (this has to be done by the app developer) and without saving the document to a file, close the application. When you restart the app, the document re-appears in exactly the same state. This is baked right into the OS. In a couple of years. people will laugh that we used to lose work because we never saved it as we went along. This one feature alone would make me want to switch from a PC. But it gets better…

Versions – Obviously, at some point you’ll want to save your file to place it within the file system. Once you have, Lion will then automatically start saving versions of the file for you. Just pause at any time, and a new version is created. Save a version manually using ⌘S or just let the system create them. Want to look at or revert to a previous version, just click on the Proxy Icon in the header and browse all versions. A “Time Machine” like display appears allowing you to peruse previous versions, copy and paste from a previous version to another or even replacing the current version with an older version. All controlled by the OS.

Just a quick tip – if you’re distraught at the removal of the “File – Save As…” command. Just do a “File – Duplicate” and Lion will create a copy of your document. Then in the copy document, use “File – Save…” to rename or re-locate the document.

New Process Model – Props to John Siracusa in his awesome Lion review for covering this one, but did you know you don’t actually need to quite Applications anymore?

Lion includes a new feature called Automatic Termination. Whereas Sudden Termination lets an application tell the system when it’s okay to terminate it with extreme prejudice, Automatic Termination lets an application tell the system that it’s okay to politely ask the program to exit.

So basically, just like iOS, you don’t need to quit an application, as under certain circumstances, Lion will do it for you, automatically. Auto-Save will make sure any open documents are safely saved and if the system needs some additional resources and you haven’t used an app for a while, Lion will close it. But it doesn’t close it completely, it just frees up the resources needed, and if you run the application again, it will start instantly as Lion doesn’t kill the apps original process.

Just like on your iPhone or iPad – neato!

These features alone make a Lion upgrade a complete no brainer and, if the message gets out, will be a powerful message to PC users.

Crystal Ball Time

These enhancements are so significant, it must eventually lead to a new mindset in how we think about and use our computers.

With the almost “instant on” of the MacBook Airs using SSDs, documents being autosaved, multiple document versions at our fingertips, resume features repopulating our work space and the removal of the worry of juggling applications and resources, the computer is now starting to get out of the way. This can only help to make the overall user experience more hassle free and enable us to concentrate on the task in hand.

We just need to adapt to the new way of working.

As to the future, iCloud will have a big part to play in this, not just as a central repository for your documents and information, but also potentially, your saved states.

How about this for a scenario….

What if you were able to work on your iCloud enabled iMac on your desk and have multiple applications open with various documents.

You have to leave – No saving of documents, no quitting of applications, you just put the iMac into sleep mode with a gesture.

You pick up your MacBook Air, open the lid and there, on your desktop, are all the applications and documents you were just working on, in exactly the same state.

Pick up your iPad, and your documents are there too!

We know some of the capabilities of iCloud around the iPad, but the part iCloud will play OSX has not yet been completely divulged so pure conjecture on my part, but it seems a logical progression of Lions advanced document and state handling.

So that’s just some of the new Lion features available, there are lot’s more I’ll cover in later blog posts or on ScreenCastsOnline.

ScreenCastsOnline Coverage of Lion

Just to set expectations, this week’s ScreenCastsOnline (29/7/2011) will not be about Lion, I’ll be publishing the second part of the Final Cut Pro X tutorial. It’s another hour long tutorial!

I want another week to review and analyse the release version of Lion and plan how I’m going to cover it. My initial thoughts are that I want to cover it on at least three levels:

  • Beginners Level – Looking at an introduction to Lion from an absolute beginner or switcher level
  • Intermediate Level – Aimed at existing Mac users and demonstrating the differences between Snow Leopard and Lion
  • Expert Level – Looking more in-depth at some of the new features and examining the minutiae of some of the changes and the implications

Of course, Lion is not just the OS, there are lots of changes to many of Lion’s core applications, so I’d like to look at some of the more important ones in detail, as well as looking at changes to various workflows.

The recent coverage of Lion has included:

SCO0304 – Getting Ready for Lion – This is a members tutorial but you can see some sample chapters on the linked page.

SCO0305a – Lion Installation – This is a completely free tutorial for anyone to take a look at. It covers the basic installation of Lion from the Mac App Store and a brief overview of the Lion Recovery Partition. It also shows you how to intercept the standard installation to create your own bootable Lion Install USH drive or DVD. Please feel free to circulate the link to the free tutorial to anyone you feel may benefit.

So no Lion tutorial this week, but expect to see plenty over the coming months. Most of the Lion tutorials will be members only content, so if you’s like more information about becoming a member, see the footnote to this page.
I fully realise that not everyone will want wall to wall Lion coverage for the next few months, so as usual, I’ll endeavour to mix and match the Lion coverage with my usual coverage of the best third party software, project based tutorials and hints and tips.

It’s going to be a busy ride for the next few months!

If you’d like more information about becoming a ScreenCastsOnline member to get a new Mac related video tutorial each week, plus immediate access to over 300+ tutorials in the ScreenCastsOnline archive please visit the page – Become a ScreenCastsOnline Member

Told you so….

OK, So back from my vacation and Apple were kind enough to hold fire on the release of Lion until I got back.

Very kind of them!

Another stellar earnings announcement last night – Apple Press Release – breaking all sorts of records.

  • $76 billion dollars in the bank
  • Still selling as many iPads as they can make – 9.25 million of them
  • iPads now outselling Macs – amazing for a product less than 18 months old
  • 20.34 million iPhones sold in the quarter – more than the analysists predicted even without a new model
  • Mac sales still on the up beating the PC – in fact, the 21st consecutive quarter they outgrew the PC market
  • Apple’s second quarter earnings ($7.79) were higher than the whole of Apple’s 2008 earnings ($7.45) (via @asymco)

and lots of other mind boggling statistics.

Absolutely incredible performance and this time, the stock price went up instead of down!

One very surprising thing, was that Apple actually announced that Lion was to be launched on the day after the earnings call – 20th July. This came out of the blue, as Apple historically does not refer to future products during the call.

Happily, I’d previously predicted the 20th July as the launch date back in the beginning of July on an episode of MacBreak Weekly and have stuck to that date ever since.

I have a pet theory that Apple likes to announce record breaking numbers during the earnings call, then immediately follow that up with another announcement a day or so later, catapulting earnings for the next quarter.

So it seemed logical that the Lion release would follow the earnings call.

As far as the fabled Thunderbolt enabled Macbook Airs and Mac Pros, I’m sure they will arrive in the next two weeks, but not on the same day as Lion. Update: Just as I hit publish on this post, all the online Apple stores went down! So it may well be that we will see some new hardware today too. Or it may be that they are just removing/replacing some older versions of software, we’ll soon find out

Final Update: Huzzah – new MacBook Airs and Mac minis – So I was wrong but hey, I’m only human 😉

Today is all about the big cat!

I’ve done the decent thing and kept to my NDA during the Lion Developer phase so although I’ve been playing with Lion for a few months, I’ve deliberately not done any ScreenCastsOnline shows or sneak peaks at Lion. I also haven’t done any advance shows, as I really wanted to wait for the final release to be made available so there are no last minute changes.

As I write this, I’m poised for Lion to be released and have created several builds to test the standard install and the unsupported methods of doing a fresh install. We still don’t know when during the day it will be released, and how easy it will be to download – it’s going to be a serious test of Apple’s infrastructure (and the Internet!). Once I have the release version, I’ll do my testing and hopefully get an install show out soon. Features and highlights of Lion will follow in a number of other shows over the next few weeks.

One thing to bear in mind is that we will also need updates to most of the Apple applications not contained in Lion (iWork, iLife, etc) New versions of the Apps will be needed to support some of the new features of Lion, so expect to see new versions of these via the Mac App Store. Will be interesting to see if brand new versions of iLife or iWork are released soon, not just Lion optimised ones.

Anyway, back to the Mac App Store….

Is it there yet, is it there yet, is it there yet….