If you’ve seen people talking about ‘Lion’ recently, you may be forgiven for wondering what it was all about. Lion is the name given to newest, just released operating system that runs on Apple’s Mac computers.
The question I’m finding myself answering to those people who aren’t Apple geeks, is ‘do I need it?’.
At a mere £20.99 / $29.99, the short answer is yes. Will it revolutionise your life? No. Does it contain new features that there’s no way you can live without? Probably not.
That said, unless you bought your Mac before 2007, there’s no reason not to get the upgrade unless you really cannot afford it. (And, if that is the case, start saving!)
I’ve been using Lion on my Macbook Pro for four days now but, rather than offering a feature by feature review as countless other reviewers have been doing, I thought I’d mention just a couple of the new features that I’ve found myself actually using and enjoying so far.
First, I love the move to full screen apps. What I mean by this is that Apple has optimised all of its applications (Mail, Calendar, iPhoto, iTunes, etc) to run using the whole of your screen. Somehow the experience of using these apps this ways feels much more enjoyable.
And, on top of the full screens applications, swiping left and right with three fingers on your trackpad, quickly switches between these different applications that you have open. It is so simple and is already becoming one of the main ways in which I switch to different applications, fast replacing my use of ‘Command + Tab’.
Second, I love a new feature that Apple is calling Mission Control. Using three fingers on my trackpad I can swipe upwards to reveal all of the spaces I’m using and applications that I have open (full screen apps get given their own space) and I can very quickly switch to the app I want to go to. Again, simple and so easy to use.
On top of these couple two new features that I am already using a lot, it is worth mentioning iCloud. iCloud is a new service from Apple coming this Autumn that will mean Apple will host your files, emails, calendar, music, bookmarks, contacts, etc, for you online and enable you to have immediate access to them all wherever you are, regardless of whether you are using your Mac, your iPhone, or your iPad.
This new iCloud service will only work on the Mac if the Mac is using the new Lion operating system. So that by itself is a reason all by itself to upgrade.
In addition to the new operating system, Apple has also completely changed the way you go about buying this new operating system. You cannot go to a shop and buy a disk like you used to do. Instead you open up the App Store on your Mac, purchase Lion using your Apple ID, and then the new operating system downloads to your Mac over the internet. Once you have downloaded it (which can take several hours depending on your broadband connection) you click on it, accept the terms and conditions, and then press install. Apple will do the rest for you. It is undoubtedly the simplest operating system upgrade I have ever done.
Lion won’t change your life, but you will find yourself enjoying the experience of using your Mac even more than before. There are many incremental improvements that, together, make for a vastly improved overall experience compared to Snow Leopard. And, for me at least, these more than justify the cost of upgrading.
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