First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

Summary: The latest version of OS X is available in the Mac App Store today, if you can invest in the long download times due to demand. I installed Lion this morning and can share what you can expect with the upgrade.

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The latest version of OS X is available in the Mac App Store today, if you can invest in the long download times due to demand. Lion borrows from Apple's mobile platform powering the iPhone and iPad to blur the division between mobile devices and desktops. Mobile workers using OS X will probably like the changes that Lion installs on the notebook, but as with all OS upgrades there are questions about how the new OS will impact the ability to get work done. I installed Lion this morning and have been beating on it to share what you can expect with the upgrade.

Will it run on my hardware?

I have installed Lion on my old unibody MacBook running the Intel Core 2 Duo processor. This is the oldest processor that Lion supports, so my concern was how well (or not) it would run on the MacBook. I can put your worries to rest as I find Lion is running at least as well, and often better, than the previous version of OS X. It is apparent that Apple developers spent time optimizing Lion for older hardware, as things happen fast. Some common tasks seem to happen even faster than before, a testament to the good job done with Lion.

On the subject of hardware, one of the first things greeting you after you upgrade to Lion is the notice that scrolling with the trackpad and mouse has been changed. It has been reversed, so where before you scrolled down a page by swiping down, you now swipe up. This takes a little getting used to, even though Apple has termed this "natural scrolling".

You can disable natural scrolling, thus putting it like it was before by accessing the Mouse Preferences. Simply uncheck natural scrolling and things will be back as usual. I have been warned by several folks who've been running the developer's version of Lion for some time that some functions in Lion don't respect the old way of scrolling. I was told that it is better to make the change and make the effort to get used to the new scrolling. I am using the new natural scrolling for this reason, and it is pretty natural feeling. I am concerned that this will give me fits when I switch back to a Windows system; I'll have to see how this change goes.

Will it run my software?

This is a big concern for mobile workers who depend on certain programs to get the daily work done. I haven't had time with Lion to test everything, but I have tried all of the major programs I use to see what works and what doesn't.

A lot of people are asking me if Parallels Desktop works OK under Lion, so I tested it first. I run Windows 7 in a virtual machine in Parallels, so I fired it up after the upgrade to Lion. So far Parallels and my virtual machine have performed just fine. I can use Windows under Lion just as before, and haven't encountered a single problem doing so.

I would recommend that as soon as you upgrade to Lion that you run a Software Update found under the Apple menu. When I had it check for updates it indicated that updates for Remote Desktop, iTunes and most importantly iWorks were available. Since a lot of mobile workers use iWorks, this update is important as it specifically brings these apps in line with Lion. These updates don't take long to install, so don't overlook them.

So far the Chrome browser is working fine for me, although some have reported it doesn't handle the new full screen mode in Lion. I have been running it in a windows as usual and have encountered no issues. Tweetdeck runs as expected, too, with no problems.

What's new for mobile workers?

There are already detailed reviews of Lion on the web so I won't cover everything. There are a couple of major new features in Lion that are particularly useful for those on a laptop. Mission Control is the utility that instantly shows you all running apps in a preview mode, so that a simple tap on an app brings it to the front. This makes is simple to get to anything running, no matter how buried it might be.

The new Launchpad makes it easy to get to any application installed on the system without going through the tiered menu on the dock. The Launchpad fills the entire screen with as many app icons as will fit, and moving between screens of apps is as easy as swiping left and right. This is a really useful way to find any app on the system, without losing your place on the desktop. Simply tap any icon to run that app, or tap the background anywhere to exit Launchpad.

The new full screen mode in Lion is designed for smaller laptop screens, as it allows dedicating the entire display to the active program. Switching between apps is as simple as swiping left and right, a nice visual way to get from here to there.

Should I upgrade right away?

This overview only scratches the surface of what's new with OS X Lion. Many folks get nervous at the thought of upgrading the OS as soon as possible in case there are any problems. If you have that concern there is no compelling reason to upgrade immediately; just wait until you're comfortable with the changes.

So far I have encountered no issues with the Lion upgrade, so I have no problem recommending it to others. As a mobile worker, I find the new features to be quite compelling, and at $29 it is not a big investment.

Topics: CXO, Apple, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, IT Employment

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17 comments
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  • On a slightly unrelated note

    Could you tell me what that iTunes 10.4 update did? Apparently it was updated to work with Lion, or something, but is that it? The release notes said something about "stability and performance enhancements" with no real information.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

      @goff256

      It's now fully 64-bit Cocoa, and supports Lion's full-screen mode.
      msalzberg
      • RE: First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

        That's it?
        Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

      @goff256

      Regarding "Is that it?"

      iTunes is really fast now. The speed increase is a welcome addition for OS X Lion users.
      kenosha77a
      • RE: First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

        I did notice that it's a lot faster.

        I dunno... maybe I'm expecting too much. I'm now happily using Safari 5.1, so maybe my expectations are too high for their software upgrades. XD
        Michael Alan Goff
  • RE: First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

    "I run Windows 7 in a virtual machine ..." I don't get this part ? :P
    AdnanPirota
    • RE: First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

      @AdnanPirota,
      Maybe for applications that won't run on a Mac?
      bmonsterman
    • RE: First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

      @AdnanPirota Since I cover Windows stuff too sometimes it is easier to run in a VM on the Mac rather than move over to another laptop.
      JamesKendrick
      • One addition: OS X Lion drops support for PowerPC-coded software, so it ...

        @JamesKendrick: ... will not make sense for people who still use such applications.
        DDERSSS
  • About that "natural" mouse movement technique

    It takes a bit to get use to but then it becomes second nature. (Something akin to one's first pair of progressive lens glasses.)
    kenosha77a
  • RE: First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

    I'd like to have natural scrolling in Windows by using my mouse wheel, but oh well... It seems the only reason for me to move to a Mac is due to natural scrolling. Other than that, Windows and Linux (Ubuntu) works just fine for me, as I use Linux for making music and Windows for Visual Studio and watching blu-ray movies.
    Grayson Peddie
  • The new Safari has a neat multitouch feature.

    Just a left or right swipe, either on the Magic Mouse or the Magic Trackpad surface, will reveal the previous browser screen. (use this feature in place of clicking the forward or backward browser arrows.)
    kenosha77a
    • RE: First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

      @kenosha7777 Hey, you can do that on SL, just not as pretty. Soooo easy to do it by accident. I wonder if there is a way of reducing the sensitivity. Particularly bad if you are doing online banking.
      James Rogers
  • Upgraded, downgraded, should I upgrade again to full "retail"?

    I ran the GM for a while. It started driving me insane after a very short period. I re-installed SL from scratch and now everything is cool. Now that Lion has hit retail, it's time to buy it. $29 in South African money is ZAR210. That's like a decent dinner and movie (without popcorn) for one person. It's quite a lot of value for money, but just wondering if I should wait for 10.7.1? Thoughts? My first thought was that it was like Mac OS X Vista.

    Late-2009 Unibody MacBook 13.3"
    4GB RAM
    500GB 7200 rpm HDD.

    Or, hehe, wait for Mac OS XI ;)
    James Rogers
  • I'm a bit upset

    At this moment (<24hours into OSX Lion) I'm still trying to recover from the worst "feature" which I think we should have been warned about in no uncertain terms. It no longer supports legacy software. Which means that some 70% of my most used programs ceased to function. The worst being Microsoft Office. Yes it's an old copy but it was fine for my writing and emailing. Now I have lost access to my email address book, all my writings, my address database, and all my saved emails. Graphic converter which I used frequently, and Xenon which was my 3-D design program also bit the dust as did Photoshop.

    Yes I should have kept all those updated but I was hit hard by the recession. The company I worked for folded and I'm trying to make it on 20% of my previous income. I don't have $3000 to upgrade all those programs that were perfectly functional before.

    I agree that we have to move on, but a warning would have allowed me to make an informed decision about upgrading and at least allowed me to save the data, addresses, and emails that I now cannot access. I suppose I can upgrade Office and save some of that (another $200+ I need for other things like food and gas) but no way in heck I can afford to replace Photoshop and Xenon.

    I'll get used to the (stupidly) reversed scrolling (or disable it), and I can take or leave launcher and mission control these are all part of getting used to the new features, but I may have to time machine my way back to yesterday to save myself a lot of money I don't have.
    bigbad_42
    • RE: First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

      @bigbad_42 Sorry dude <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/sad.gif" alt="sad"> But they have been saying it for quite some time. I do agree that they should have at least done a compatability / upgrade advisor type thing like with recent Windows upgrades. I upgrade to Lion GM about two or three weeks ago. Run all my stuff and everything worked. BUT, I got so annoyed with the "new wonderful features" that I went back to SL and restored from Time Machine / or manual data move, can't remember. Anyway, I'm still using SL and haven't decided yet if I'm going to upgrade to Lion. Need to find out what other people are saying about it. I only become a die hard MacOSX fan at the beginning of last year, so I'm still pretty new to it. I was able to buy Office 2011 through our school license agreement with On the Hub (I fall under staff). I have 30 MacBooks that we MIGHT upgrade to Lion, although, tragically, they all run Windows :'-(



      See this: http://lowendmac.com/misc/11mr/mb-rosetta.html <<< Found but not really read, I have to actually get out of my office and do stuff :)
      James Rogers
  • RE: First impressions of OS X Lion for mobile workers

    After thinking it through I decided I like the change in scrolling to move the content rather than the scroll bar. I think being an iPad user has helped me adapt very quickly. It certainly makes more sense, but it does require a change.
    CPMyers