Lion: What The Other Reviews Are Saying

Lion desktop

Lion is here. Our own Kahney/Brownlee dynamic duo have written up their own review, but let’s take a moment to find out what other reviewers are saying.

Let’s start, as we should, with the man whose in-depth OS X reviews have been the benchmark for the rest of us for years, Ars Technica’s John Siracusa.

His epic Lion review (19 pages, count ‘em) is well worth a chunk of your time. My favorite quote:

“Apple appears tired of dragging people kicking and screaming into the future; with Lion, it has simply decided to leave without us.”

Lion is, Siracusa concludes simply, “better technology.”

Meanwhile, Darrell Etherington at GigaOm likes the full screen mode in Lion apps, but thinks Apple should have done something more drastic with Finder:

“I’m still not crazy about the Finder redesign for example, and I think Apple missed the opportunity to make some changes to that component of OS X that would’ve really resonated with longtime users.”

Independent blogger Shawn Blanc has a lot to say about the refinements and details he’s encountered in weeks of using the Lion previews, but overall:

“There are many things like this sprinkled all throughout the OS. There are many subtle refinements which, when experienced, you don’t just think ‘I’m glad they added this, because this is cool.’ Instead, you think ‘how is it that OS X never had this before? This is the way it should be.'”

Over at Macworld, the highly respected Jason Snell spelled out some pros and cons:

“After a long period of relative stability on the Mac, Lion is a shock to the system. It’s a radical revision, motivated in part by the vast influx of new Mac users coming to the platform from iOS, that makes the Mac a friendlier computer … On the downside, Launchpad owes a bit too much to the iOS, limiting its utility, and it’s too hard to organize apps. Full-screen apps have potential, but only if developers embrace the format and truly re-invent their interfaces.”

Brian Chen at Wired had a lot of praise, but said Lion was “trying too hard to be iOS”:

“Apple’s visions of a future awash in gesture-based input devices, and the language we’ll use when we get there, are being mapped out in plain view. The price is right.”

So, you’ve heard what the Mac bloggers think, and you’ve heard what we think. Over to you, now: having had a few hours to download, install and play around with Lion, what are your first impressions?

  • Shirli

    I’ve updated 4 of my 5 macs without any issues.  I like it, but don’t love.  I also tried the new way to scroll but have already changed the option back to “unnatural”.  Launch Pad puzzles me (a lot) [who’s idea was this?], but I do love the new Mission Control.  Overall, I’d give it a thumbs up, I guess I’m a little resistant to change.  I really need a new option for Front Row before I’ll upgrade my Mac Mini.

  • Michael Holm

    Love it :) of couse there is some buggy things, but overall its great !

  • John Neumann

    A few minor bugaboos, I probably should have completed my design projects before installing it this morning but I’ve lived through them. 

    I agree with Shirli that LaunchPad seems very out of place on a desktop machine. I have no need to see ALL of my apps blown up to fill my screen. The dock is still ideal to access programs I use daily. Plus the fact that it has added double icons for many Mac apps with no way to remove them. I’m sure this will be addressed shortly but is a blatant oopsie that is not how Apple likes to be seen. 

    I also had to change my multi-touch back to its original configuration. I may revisit it in the future but it was too distracting for today. 

    I do not care for Mission Control replacing Spaces, my Command-5 click is now replaced with mouse scrolling that takes twice the time and mentally jars me away from my intended task. I have a system of using Spaces quickly and easily that allows me to jump from place to place but now I have no idea where my InDesign screen will end up, or if my iTunes will appear when I call for it. At least leave us the option to retain our workflow methods. 

    Overall, I use my Mac as a serious design workstation and every second counts when working, dumbing it down for the iPhone generation was not necessary all at once. I will grow to love it I am sure but for today, I am lukewarm.

  • TechTeich

    I feel the exact same way. I am still not sure if I should upgrade or not. Spaces and exposé make my workflow so much faster I could not change. Lion is really an OS for those people who go Facebook at Apple Stores, not for power-users. Im sorry, but Apple is going down the tubes, The reason why I own a mac is because i DON’T want an iOS device! Apple should separate these two operating systems and leave OS X alone. PCs are no place for iOS. My iPhone/iPod/iPad is not a computer. Period.

  • Soho22

    Most complaints of people are just based on the fact they aren’t used to them yet. And that happens with every major thing apple does. “Apple is going down the tubes” “This is apples vista” “Where is my physical keyboard” “where is my cd drive” “why is there no bluray” “where is Flash”. We have heard that for years.

  • Soho22

    Why not just use the workaround to get front row back?

  • Jay Floyd

    Agreed about Launchpad.  It really does seem kind of stupid.  But that does seem to be the audience that Apple increasingly wants with their trajectory in many areas.  This is always what happens when the little guy gets too big.  

  • Leonardo Copello

    OSX Lion is running so slowly in my Macbook Air 2010 with 4Gb of Ram. The animations are jaggy and is not running so smooth like Apple products.
    LaunchPad: duplicated some icons. The swipe is smooth and really cool.
    Mission Control: The animations hasn’t been polished yet. The icons in desktop dessapears without any animation. Moving a window to a new desktop is very slowly. The opened windows didn’t scale down when view Mission Control (It just FLASH!)
    FullScreen: Is amazing! But the transition animation need to be polished.

    Very disappointed with the interface finishing of OSX Lion. Please review the animation performance!

  • Christopher Seistrup

    Plex DESTROYS Front Row

  • prof_peabody

    I am seriously unimpressed with Lion.  

    Which is surprising because I had carefully read everything about it beforehand and was expecting to really like it.  The performance is poor at best.  Everything is noticeably slower even after spotlight indexing.  

    Several aspects of the UI that I had used for years are now unworkable (minor things that weren’t covered in reviews but things I personally used a lot all the same).  I guess I’ll get used to not having them around, but it would have been nice to know before I installed that I was going to lose them.

    What’s really hilarious is that the biggest criticism Windows users levelled at Macs for years is now finally true.  The animations *do* in fact slow everything down.  You can’t even open a folder now without a half-second delay before the “zoom” animation happens.  It’s only a half second, but it’s on every single action in the UI now.  Awful.  

    Edit: I should note for the inevitable disbelievers, that I am using an 8 core MacPro with 12 GBs of memory and the latest Nvidia Video card with huge amounts of video RAM etc. It’s about as powerful a Mac computer as you can get and it feels noticeably slower with Lion.

  • mahimahimahi

    I really like lion.  I just bought my first mac today because I knew I would have trouble if I switched from Snow Leopard.  I’m really liking the gestures. As a linux man, the spaces feel right at home.  Linux used to be my domain but after Ubuntu switched to the Unity Desktop I knew I would have to abandon that ship.  Launchpad is useful if you use the gesture for it!

  • CharliK

    I’ve been using it for the afternoon and evening with no real issues. Nothing has been particularly slow for me. The only real problem I had was with some of my 3rd part stuff but that’s why I have two partitions and a copy of parallels. I’ll just flip back over for those handful of things

  • Dickusmagnus

    After a day playing with this new OS I haven’t found a single thing to complain about. I like the similarities to iOS because it strains my brain to have to work with too many different interfaces. The Reader facility is super. It’s like turning internet articles into books. Scrolling took some time to get used to, but it’s better than before if you just imaging you are working with an actual piece of paper. Mac users tend to be picky so I guess I’m too easy. I’ll leave the belly aching to others.

  • Cody

    Well, so far I’m pretty amazed with the new OS.  I will say though that I had my first problem with it though involving the new mail app.  For some reason, after all of my mail migrated to the new app, any mail that I had in mailboxes that I had created and my notes would not delete.  I got this funky error saying that what I was trying to delete couldn’t be deleted because there was already a message in the trash with the same name.  Luckily, since my iMac is only a couple weeks old, I still have free phone support, so a specialist guided me through the internals of the system and we fixed the problem fairly easily.  I have been hearing of a few problems here and there, but that’s to be expected with a new OS.  Overall, I love the new interface for spaces and mission control.  I’m still not to keen on what has been done with exposé, but I’m sure i will get used to it eventually.

  • Cody

    I really have to disagree with John, Jay, and Tech on the significance of launchpad.  For me anyway, launchpad is what I’ve been wanting.  I’m in college, and I have a decent number of programs on my mac, and the one thing that I’ve hated is that I have trouble finding certain programs when the grid view of the apps folder.  Yes, I know that I could just put the apps in my dock, but several of the apps are apps that I don’t want in my dock because they are apps that I am required to have for school, but don’t actually want.  Launchpad spreads out all my apps a little and makes them easier to find.  I’m sure that something better could have been done with launchpad, but I like the idea of being able to find the apps I need to without having to fill up my dock.

  • Brandon Chang

    i love the new scrolling 5 mins in and I’m already using it so naturally! shudve been this way from the start windows screwed us over making scrolling thru pages backwards

  • huyett

    Hey guys,
    Just upgraded to Lion, and fired up launch pad.  I have Adobe CS5, and there is an uninstall package for every single program in the package.  I rarely uninstall anything on my mac, I was under the impression that you just drag things to the recycle bin to uninstall.

    Can i ditch all of these uninstall package? They’re cluttering up my launch pad terribly.

  • huyett

    Launchpad is there if you want to use it.  The old ways of launching applications are still available…

  • huyett

    Can’t some of these speed issues be addressed in 10.7.1?  No software is perfect when its released, right? 

    I’ve noticed things seem a little bit slower, too.

  • Arnold Mingin

    I liked Gizmodo review – Apple created a mess! I love Mac OS X. It can withstand a lot more than Windows, but with Lion… the only useful feature is resizing windows (from all sides).
    Mission Control. It existed in the form of Expose+Spaces for a long time. And it was better than MC! For example using just the hot corners I can switch to Spaces and then show all windows in each Space using Expose, with MC I can’t do that, I have to switch to another Desktop first and then call MC again.
    One of the worst things in Lion is monochrome icons. All of them are practically indistinguishable! I have to spend additional second for each click.
    It still worth $29, but overall it’s just a marketing move (good old new…)

  • Jandh B

    Like many, slightly mixed feelings. Just wanted to highlight one thing – on the full-screen toggling, has anyone else noticed that the shortcuts are not consistent? Various combinations of ctrl cmd F are possible with several apps, but not with iTunes, which is the “hardest” to get out of.

  • Lee Hinderstein

    Love Lion overall, but…I also have an iPhone and think that launchpad was just fine left to the iOS . As an app launcher it really sucks.  I have been placing a shortcut of my applications folder in the right side of my dock since OS X and the dock came out (ala reminisce of the old apple menu where you could create a folder for launching apps) and will continue to do so.

    I do love the new reverse scrolling that one is a no brainer!

    I have been running SL in 64bit since it came out and it seems Lion (now only 64bit) is a little bit faster in most tasks.

    I have noticed a few bugs, especially with the Finder, but I supposed those will be worked out in future updates.

    Over all, Lion is very stable refined and a please to use.  

    Though I really hope it doesn’t become an iOS for the desktop, I am a very very long time Mac user and although love my iPhone, it is now what I want to use for my everyday computing.

    Apple. . . Final Cut X, really, what were you thinking, we already have iMovie!

  • Lee Hinderstein

    People have been reviewing the ins and outs of this os for almost a year. . .Really

    My iMac 24″ screams with lion on it. SL was fast, and I was running 64bit SL, but Lion screams!

  • Lee Hinderstein

    If you want to get rid of the UI animations, download “MacPilot” and you can disable any and all of the UI’s animation as well as enable or disable a bunch of features throughout the OS and most Applications.

  • Lee Hinderstein

    Did you do a clean install?  My iMac is faster with Lion over SL, but I alway, ALWAYS do a clean install. In all of my 20 years using Macintosh, the few times I attempted an upgrade or restore with TimeMachine things have always gone very screwy and I end up doing a complete wipe and install.

  • Lee Hinderstein

    I am telling people, you will never have a good experience if you don’t backup your stuff and wipe your drive and lay a fresh copy of the OS!

  • Zoe_RILLA

    Love how full screen apps (safari, mail, etc.) take place their own desktop, allowing for ease of use and ability to sift through them with a leftward or rightward swipe of 3 fingers. I know there was multiple desktops in SL, but wasn’t as intuitive.

    The launchpad gesture is very awkward, wish I could change that. Also, not a big fan of the monochromatic color scheme within the finder left margin icons, among other things. Makes it difficult to pick out what you’re looking quickly. The makeover that mail and iCal received was much needed. Other qualms I have are too tiny to mention, and can be fixed with future software updates.

  • facebook-623312627

    It may be a dumb question, but is there a way to get all the Snow Leopard-like gestures back, not just changing the scrolling direction, for example? ‘Cause I’ve got to say, the most annoying thing for me in Lion is the stupid gesture they make me use to go straight to my desktop (thumb+three fingers). It’s just the most unnatural gesture there is. I want my four fingers up swipe back!

About the author

Giles TurnbullGiles Turnbull is a freelance writer in England. He also writes for the Press Association and The Morning News. You can find out more at his website, and follow him on Twitter @gilest.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in News, OS X | Tagged: , , |