First impressions of OSX 10.7 Lion

Well, well, well. Lion has finally arrived.

We’re currently using the big cat on a 21.5″ iMac if you want backgorund info. We also have a Magic Trackpad.

Apple has tried to make the desktop experience more iOS-like. Probably to win over non-mac users who use an iOS device. However, the result of the merger is quite a hodgepodge. Some of the functions, such as folders and wiggling icons, are present.

Launchpad icon

After clicking the Launchpad icon, It’s what you would expect.


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The nice arrangement of icons and a — “could we say easy?” — way to uninstall apps. There’re even folders, an organization style that I did not think would be there.






As with on the mobile iOS platform, the screens of apps and the individual folder are only a stopgap for the bludgeoned interface. The folders are fun the click through and open. But to look at folders one after another is annoying, especially when you’re using a mouse pointer on an interface that was made for a finger. It just feels awkward moving a tiny mouse pointer around something resembling the iOS homescreen.

Onto Mission Control. It’s pretty much Spaces from Leopard, but remodeled.

Mission control

You can view your spaces, now called “Desktops”, on the upper portion of the screen. Windows in Desktops are draggable to other Desktops. You can assign apps to specific Desktops. These features were also present in Spaces.

The new features are not entirely for the better. When you attempt to fullscreen an app, the app will shift itself into a new Desktop. The Desktop thats made is eclusive to that one app. The now enfranchised app leaves an empty desktop behind in its wake.

Mail fullscreen

As you can see from the previous screenshot, the new “Full Screen Desktops” are insert themselves to the right of the Desktop that they were created from. This leads to you needing to scroll thorugh multiple desktops to get to the one you want.




Moving desktops

And get this — you can’t reposition those desktops. Thats right! You’re stuck with desktops in the positions that they spawned. I tried holding down on one of them expecting them to wiggle and be rearrangeable. Sadly, Apple never thought that iOS users may want to do that. Like what if I want to stick iTunes in between a Mail and Calender desktop? Both apps happen to be full screened because we work better that way.

Goal: Insert a desktop with iTunes in it.


  • Window either the Mail or Calendar desktop.

  • Make a new desktop to the right of Calendar (well, I have to)

  • Drag Calendar to the the newly created desktop.

  • Full Screen Calendar.

  • Switch back to the desktop now in the crossfire.

  • Open iTunes there and Full Screen if needed.

Time: ~10 seconds for the new user

Took quite a while, didn’t it? It gets worse with apps that have flawed Full Screen implementations. Let’s look at an app that you may want to use with your new big cat.

Chrome icon

I wonder what this is… Anyways, this particular app sports the Full Screen button.

Chrome fullscreen button

After clicking the button, Chrome expands to fill the whole screen. So far so good.

Then you find out that the app doesn’t work quite right.

Chrome fullscreen


Hey, shouldn’t the label read “Chrome” instead of a generic name like “Desktop 2″? It should; but doesn’t. You can even move its supposedly Full Screen window around, even to other desktops. Even after assigning apps to specific desktops it wrecks havoc when Lion attempt to reopen previous windows (like hibernation but launching each app again) on restart. It doesn’t seem like Lion remembers where emtpy desktops were, either.

Move chrome

Because an app, Chrome in this example, didn’t support Full Screening well, all sorts of weird business happens. If you open files you download, they’ll open above the faux Full Screen app. Wehn you click the deviant app in the backgorund to bring it “Full Screen”, the new app or window will go into the background. Because Chrome thinks it really Full Screen, it’s a pain to get to windows pushed behind it.

The bugs and flawed implementation of the most publicized features of Lion create the art of strategically opening your apps and desktops in a precise manner and carefully Full Screen the apps to achieve optimal efficiency. It’s not like everyone needs an empty desktop after full screening an app.

But alas, all is not lost. Lion’s Launchpad and Mission Control are a great improvement over previous incarnations such as Spaces. Full screened apps are fantastic in purging distractions and making the most of your pixels. Not every OS gives you the opportunity to “grab” the trackpad to trigger Launchpad.

Launchpad gesture

What are you waiting for? Did I scare you too much? Head over to the Mac App Store and get OSX 10.7 Lion! It’s a worthy successor to Snow Leopard and is amazingly low priced at $30.




Anson Liu