First day with the Lion

So on July 20 it finally was time for the next iteration of OSX to hit the store shelves. Given the low price and the bonus that I didn’t have to go to a real store out there to get a copy it only took me another day to also get Lion installed on my own machine.

While the upgrade itself went exceptionally smooth there are a couple of “new” old features in Lion, though, that will probably take quite some time getting used to or that I consider downright bugs or broken :-(

Just to name a few I’ve noticed so far:

  • Slow desktop switching when using the keyboard (~2s). This seems to only affect the Ctrl+arrow method. If you, for instance, switch between desktops via apps and alt+tab the switch is much faster. Same goes for using the Ctrl+{1,2,3,…} keyboard shortcuts.

  • It is no longer possible to organise your desktops in multiple rows.

  • Apps visible on every desktop get rendered only after the switch to a different desktop has been completed. Idan mentioned a similar behaviour with desktop icons. This video shows this behaviour with Reeder being shown on every desktop and popping in and out of desktop 2.

  • Apps visible on all desktop completely mess up the window stack. For instance: I have on one desktop MacVIM open to write this post and on another desktop Reeder (as in the example before) marked to be on all desktops. On the 2nd desktop I also have iTunes. If I now switch to Reeder on the 2nd desktop, then hit Ctrl+left to move back to the desktop with vim and right after that back to the 2nd desktop with supposedly Reeder in front, iTunes will greet me.

Seems like most of my complaints with Lion are focused around Mission Control. I can’t help but see it as half Spaces half Exposé with the good parts being removed and the rest messed up …

I’m at least glad that Apple did add an option to disable what they call “natural scrolling” ;-) That said, there are also a lot of little things I really enjoy in Lion like

  • moving the mouse won’t make OSX leave the display-sleep state again but instead you have to hit a button on the keyboard.

  • Mission Control treats the Dashboard like another desktop. Previously I only accessed it every once in a while by hitting F12, but now that little info-powerhouse sees me much more often thanks to it’s integration in the desktop navigation shortcuts.

  • I’m probably one of the few people who actually likes the new look :-) Previously some UI elements looked far to playful for my taste.

  • the subtle animations when opening or closing windows

  • the new design of the login screen even though the gradient at first made me think my display was broken again ;-)

  • Launchpad as replacement for the applications folder, although I would have loved to have some app launcher-like search bar there too. But, I guess, that’s what Spotlight is still there for.

  • The new input-features like iOS-style spell-checking and accent-handling look at least very promising. Not sure I’ll get used to them, though.

So, I don’t really regret upgrading to Lion, yet, but to me this release kind of feels rushed. I simply can’t understand how Apple with all its focus on making stuff look shiny missed the completely messed up Spaces behaviour. Even the app store itself feels far less stable on Lion compared to Snow Leopard. Now I can just hope that at least this will get fixed in the next update.