Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” began shipping on Wednesday, July 20. I use the term “shipping” advisedly – for now, the only way to get Lion is to download it from Apple’s Mac App Store for $29.99. It was a 3.7GB file, which fortunately transferred in under an hour. I feel bad for those who don’t have a lot of bandwidth.
The word on the street is that Lion is a hybrid. It's supposedly half Mac OS X and half iOS – the operating system found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I don’t see it. There are only three things that are somewhat iOS-like in appearance:
• There is a new program launcher called Launchpad which displays the icons for all your installed applications in a grid. Yeah, it’s kinda like the iPad. However, that's a secondary way to start programs. In fact, Launchpad is an application itself, not a built-part part of the user interface. You can still start programs the way you always did: by pressing their icons on the Dock, by finding the apps in the Applications folder, or by double-clicking a file. The Launchpad is merely a new way to find the program you want to run.
• The Mail client has been redesigned and does look like the iPad version.Messages in a mailbox are listed on the left, while the contents of a selected message is shown on the right. Previously, the list of messages was on the top, and the selected message was shown on the bottom. There’s a setting to switch back to the old layout. Oh, and you can view messages organized by thread. Big deal.
• The Address Book contact database has an interface that looks more like an old-fashioned contact notebook, which is definitely more like on the iPad. However, it behaves the same way as the Mac version always did, only with a slightly changed skin.
Beyond that, I don’t see much that's iPad-like in the Lion user interface. And it's a pretty incremental upgrade; an hour after installing Lion I forgot that it was a new operating system.
There are tons of new features and changes with Mac OS X 10.7 – and I’m slowly exploring them. Overall, it's a real improvement. But is it iOS on a MacBook Air? Nope, not even close.
Apple’s Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” is a good evolutionary upgrade over the previous Snow Leopard version. Unless you have software that’s not compatible with the new operating system (like anything requiring Rosetta, which is no longer supported), you should consider the upgrade.