OS X Lion Released Today With Many iOS Features

By July 21, 2011
New OS X Lion feature Mission Control

Steve Jobs is calling this big cat all about going back to the Mac. With many features taken from the iPhone or iPad, critics are trying to see how that all fits together.

Along with new versions of the MacBook Air and Mac Mini, the latest Apple operating system, OS 10.7, or OS X Lion was released today and is currently available from the Mac App Store for $29.99. Self described as "the world's most advanced desktop operating system ever," Apple took many workflow lessons from their iOS devices and applied them to the desktop. Multitouch, full screen apps, and the Launchpad all will be familiar in feel to owners of the iPhone or iPad.

Some Lion features:

  • Multi-touch gestures use animations to make gestures feel natural, such as pinch zooming, swiping to another page or app, or accessing MIssion Control and Launchpad.
  • Many apps now have a full-screen button to maximize screen space.
  • Mission Control works much like Exposé, giving a view of apps and Spaces, while also letting the user organize all open items. 
  • Launchpad organizes applications into a new interface - instead of a window with the apps listed, large format icons are arranged on a grid that looks like an iOS screen. 
  • Auto-save for all apps, document version timelines, Airdrop (a new form of Dropbox)

App Store reviews are mostly glowing, with a nearly five-star rating. But not all of the features are improvements, at least not according to Wired's Brian Chen. Chen switched back from Lion's native inverted scrolling, which takes touch-based gestures and applies them to the mouse, which many users could find confusing, at least at first.

Lion incorporates many mobile device features, and Chen finds many of them do not scale to a big screen or peripheral input devices. Launchpad's big icons on multiple sets of screens emulate an iPhone, but just doesn't translate well to a 27-inch monitor or Chen's mouse over. Its more movement over larger distances than when an iPad user wants to launch an app.

This lack of scaling is at the heart of most critiques of Lion - taking iOS features and grafting them onto the desktop with a lack of grace Apple fans are surprised at. But other innovations, such as Fullscreen, AirDrop and some other little fixes, are a hit.

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas