Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                       04/01/12 19:03 Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the A...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                       04/01/12 19:03 Steve Jobs presents the f...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                               04/01/12 19:03 trends. Apple appears tired of dr...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                         04/01/12 19:03              Mail      ...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                     04/01/12 19:03 uses the program only rarel...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 those same boxes onto a di...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                             04/01/12 19:03          If you obt...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 But wait a second—how exac...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                     04/01/12 19:03 ability to add partitions t...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                       04/01/12 19:03 The new partition is actu...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 Mac with a hosed boot volu...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 Hover to swap: Standard co...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 emphasizing the surroundin...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 Linen for your login scree...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                       04/01/12 19:03 ing system-wide in Mac OS...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                     04/01/12 19:03 These transient scroll thum...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                          04/01/12 19:03 moving the "wrong" way...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                           04/01/12 19:03 to my time using thos...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                       04/01/12 19:03 Applications with other U...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                        04/01/12 19:03 The Mac user interface, ...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 Window resizing from all e...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 ple has chosen to appropri...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 But danger lurks. A newly ...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                         04/01/12 19:03 dow animation is the mo...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 emphatically that interfac...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                        04/01/12 19:03 Mac OS X toolbar appeara...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                       04/01/12 19:03 The trouble is, the new i...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                        04/01/12 19:03 These graphics are writi...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 Over the years, Apple has ...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 Mission Control: Exposé + ...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                       04/01/12 19:03 more Mac users will likel...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 The jump in complexity fro...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                     04/01/12 19:03 Dock by default), a multito...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                    04/01/12 19:03 progress bar overlaid on the...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                      04/01/12 19:03 of its popularity and infl...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                     04/01/12 19:03          The user does not ...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                     04/01/12 19:03 ment model. Here it is:    ...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                        04/01/12 19:03 Document version browser...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                     04/01/12 19:03 itly unlocked by the user. ...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                         04/01/12 19:03 can prove even more pai...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                     04/01/12 19:03 tion, buckle up, because th...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                     04/01/12 19:03 that whats always happened ...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                       04/01/12 19:03 around just in case the u...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                       04/01/12 19:03 does, the idyllic image o...
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review                                        04/01/12 19:03 meaningful to say. But i...
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review
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Mac OS X Lion - John Siracusa's Ars Technica Review

  1. 1. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review Mac OS X 10.7 was first shown to the public in October 2010. The presentation was understated, especially compared to the bold rhetoric that accompanied the launches of the iPhone ("Apple reinvents the phone") and the iPad ("a magical and revolution- ary device at an unbelievable price"). Instead, Steve Jobs simply called the new oper- ating system "a sneak peek at where were going with Mac OS X." Behind Jobs, the screen listed the seven previous major releases of Mac OS X: Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard. Such brief retro- spectives are de rigueur at major Mac OS X announcements, but long-time Apple watchers might have felt a slight tingle this time. The public "big cat" branding for Mac OS X only began with Jaguar; code names for the two earlier versions were not well known outside the developer community and were certainly not part of Apples official marketing message for those releases. Why bring the cat theme back to the forefront now? The answer came on the next slide. The next major release of Mac OS X would be called Lion. Jobs didnt make a big deal out of it; Lions just another big cat name, right? Within seconds, we were on to the next slide, where Jobs was pitching the new releases message: not "king of the jungle" or "the biggest big cat," but the "back to the Mac" theme underlying the entire event. Mac OS X had spawned iOS, and now Ap- ple was bringing innovations from its mobile operating system back to Mac OS X. Apple had good reason to shy away from presenting Lion as the pinnacle that its name implies. The last two major releases of Mac OS X were both profoundly shaped by the meteoric rise of their younger sibling, iOS.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 1 of 106
  2. 2. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Steve Jobs presents the first seven releases of Mac OS X in a slightly unusual for- mat Leopard arrived later than expected, and in the same year that the iPhone was intro- duced. Its successor, Snow Leopard, famously arrived with no new features, concen- trating instead on internal enhancements and bug fixes. Despite plausible official ex- planations, it was hard to shake the feeling that Apples burgeoning mobile platform was stealing resources—not to mention the spotlight—from the Mac. In this context, the name Lion starts to take on darker connotations. At the very least, it seems like the end of the big cat branding—after all, where can you go after Lion? Is this process of taking the best from iOS and bringing it back to the Mac platform just the first phase of a complete assimilation? Is Lion the end of the line for Mac OS X itself? Lets put aside the pessimistic prognostication for now and consider Lion as a prod- uct, not a portent. Apple pegs Lion at 250+ new features, which doesnt quite match the 300 touted for Leopard, but I guess it all depends on what you consider a "fea- ture" (and what that "+" is supposed to mean). Still, this is the most significant release of Mac OS X in many years—perhaps the most significant release ever. Though the number of new APIs introduced in Lion may fall short of the landmark Tiger and Leopard releases, the most important changes in Lion are radical accelerations of pasthttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 2 of 106
  3. 3. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 trends. Apple appears tired of dragging people kicking and screaming into the fu- ture; with Lion, it has simply decided to leave without us. Table of Contents Installation Reconsidering fundamentals Lions new look Scroll bars Window resizing Animation Heres to the crazy ones Window management Application management Document model Process model The pitch The reality Internals Security Sandboxing Privilege separation Automatic Reference Counting Enter (and exit) garbage collection Cocoa memory management Enter ARC ARC versus garbage collection ARC versus the world The state of the file system Whats wrong with HFS+ File system changes in Lion File system future Document revisions Resolution independence Applications The Finderhttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 3 of 106
  4. 4. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Mail Safari Grab bag System Preferences Auto-correction Mobile Time Machine Lock screen Emoji Terminal About This Mac Recommendations Conclusion A brief note on branding: on Apples website and in some—but not all—marketing materials, Apple refers to its new Mac operating system as "OS X Lion." This may well turn out to be the name going forward, but given the current state of confusion and my own stubborn nos- talgia, Im going to call it "Mac OS X" throughout this review. Indulge me. Installation Lions system requirements dont differ much from Snow Leopards. You still need an Intel-based Mac, though this time it must also be 64-bit. The last 32-bit Intel Mac was discontinued in August of 2007; Apple chose a similar four-year cut-off for dropping PowerPC support, with minimal customer backlash. Time marches on. But sometimes time marches on a bit too fast. Though this is the second version of Mac OS X that doesnt support PowerPC processors, this is the first version that wont run PowerPC applications. In Snow Leopard, the Rosetta translation engine allowed PowerPC applications to run, and run well, often faster than they ran on the (admit- tedly older) PowerPC Macs for which they were developed. Lion no longer includes Rosetta, even as an optional install. No one expects eternal support for PowerPC software, and any developer that does- nt yet have Intel-native versions of all its applications is clearly not particularly dedi- cated to the Mac platform. Nevertheless, people still rely on some PowerPC applica- tions. For example, I have an old PowerPC version of Photoshop. Though Photoshop has long since gone Intel-native, its an expensive upgrade for someone like me who uses the program only rarely. The PowerPC version suits my needs just fine, but ithttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 4 of 106
  5. 5. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 uses the program only rarely. The PowerPC version suits my needs just fine, but it wont run at all in Lion. Another common example is Quicken 2007, still the most capable Mac version of In- tuits finance software, and still PowerPC-only. This is clearly Intuits fault, not Ap- ples, but from a regular users perspective, its hard to understand why Apple would remove an existing, completed feature that helped so many people. In reality, every feature has some associated maintenance cost. This is perhaps even more true of a binary translation framework that may have deep hooks into the oper- ating system. Im willing to give Apple the benefit of the doubt and assume that dis- entangling PowerPC-related code from the operating system once and for all was im- portant enough to justify the customer inconvenience. But it still stings a little. The future shock continues with the purchase and installation process. Lion is the first version of Mac OS X to be distributed through Apples recently introduced Mac App Store. In fact, the Mac App Store is the only place where you can buy Lion. Apples decision last year to sell its iLife and iWork applications through the Mac App Store was not unexpected, but the presence of Apples professional photography application, Aperture, caught some people off guard—as did its greatly reduced price ($80 vs. $200 for the boxed version). The developer preview releases of Lion were also distributed through the Mac App Store. Apples developer releases have been distributed digitally for many years now, but the switch from downloading disk images from Apples developer website to "re- deeming" promo codes and downloading new builds from the Mac App Store raised some eyebrows. When Apple announced that its new Final Cut Pro X professional video editing application would—you guessed it—be distributed through the Mac App Store, and at a greatly reduced price, even the most dense Apple watchers start- ed to get the hint. And so we have Lion, priced at a mere $29 (the same as its "no new features" prede- cessor), available exclusively through the Mac App Store. Its an audacious move, yes, but not unexpected. Apple is so done with stamping bits onto plastic discs, putting the discs into card- board boxes, putting those boxes onto trucks, planes, and boats, and shipping them all over the world to retail stores or to mail-order resellers who will eventually puthttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 5 of 106
  6. 6. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 those same boxes onto a different set of trucks, trains, and planes for final delivery to customers, who will then remove the disc, throw away the cardboard, and instruct their computers to extract the bits. No, from here on out, its digital distribution all the way. (This, I suppose, marks the end of my longstanding tradition of showing the product boxes or optical discs that Mac OS X ships on. Instead, you can see the in- staller application icon on the right.) Lion is a large download and fast network connections are still not ubiquitous. But new Macs will come with Lion, so the most relevant question is, how many people who plan to upgrade an existing Mac to Lion dont have a fast network connection? The class of people who perform OS upgrades probably has a higher penetration of high-speed Internet access than the general population. I also suspect that Apple re- tail stores may be willing to help out customers who just cant manage to download a 3.76GB installer in a reasonable amount of time. [Update: Macworld reports that there will, in fact, be a physical manifestation of Lion. Starting in August, Apple will sell Lion on a USB stick for $69. Apple has also said that customers are welcome to bring their Macs to Apple retail stores for help buying and installing Lion.] In the meantime, if youre reading this, chances are good that you have a fast broad- band connection; feel free to stop reading right now, launch the Mac App Store, and start your multi-gigabyte download before continuing. What youll be rewarded with at the end is an icon in your Applications folder labeled "Install Mac OS X Lion." (See?) Once you have the installer application, you could (were you so inclined) dig into it (control-click, then Show Package Contents) and find the meaty center, a 3.74GB disk image (InstallESD.dmg, stored in the Contents/SharedSupport folder). You could then use that disk image to, say, burn a Lion installation DVD or create an emergency external boot disk. I doubt any of these things are officially supported by Apple, but the point is that theres nothing exotic about the Lion installer. Like all past versions of Mac OS X, Lion has no serial number, no product activation, and no DRM of any kind. In fact, the Mac App Stores licensing policy is even more permissive than past releases of Mac OS X. Heres an excerpt from Lions license agreement:http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 6 of 106
  7. 7. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 If you obtained a license for the Apple Software from the Mac App Store, then subject to the terms and conditions of this License and as permitted by the Mac App Store Usage Rules set forth in the App Store Terms and Con- ditions (http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/ww/) ("Usage Rules"), you are granted a limited, non-transferable, non-exclusive license: (i) to download, install, use and run for personal, non-commercial use, one (1) copy of the Apple Software directly on each Apple-branded computer running Mac OS X Snow Leopard or Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server ("Mac Computer") that you own or control; The references to Snow Leopard are a bit confusing, but keep in mind that you need Snow Leopard to purchase and download Lion for the first time. I suspect the license agreement will be updated once Lion has been out for a while. Theres also another interesting clause in the license, from that same section: (iii) to install, use and run up to two (2) additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments on each Mac Computer you own or control that is already running the Apple Software. Putting it all together, Apple says youre allowed to run up to three copies of Lion— one real, two inside virtual machines—on every Mac that you own, all for the low, low price of $29. Not a bad deal. The installer itself is dead simple, foreshadowing the pervasive simplification in Ap- ples new OS. There are no optional installs and no customization. The only response the user provides is agreeing to the obligatory EULA, and the only configurable in- stall parameter is the target disk.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 7 of 106
  8. 8. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 But wait a second—how exactly is this going to work? Surely an entirely new operat- ing system cant be installed on top of the currently running operating system by an application stored on the same volume. Without a plastic disc to boot from, how is it even possible to upgrade a standalone Mac with just one hard drive? These questions probably wont occur to an average consumer, which is sort of the point, I guess. Sure enough, if you just close your eyes, launch the installer applica- tion, and click your way through the handful of screens it presents, your Mac will re- boot into what looks like the standard Mac OS X installer application from years past. When its done, your Mac will reboot into Lion. Magic! Okay, its not magic, but it is a bit complicated. The first and most lasting surprise is that the Lion installer will actually repartition the disk, carving out a 650MB slice of the disk for its own use. Dont worry, all existing data on the disk will be preserved. (Mac OS X has had thehttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 8 of 106
  9. 9. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 ability to add partitions to existing disks without destroying any data for many years now.) All thats required is enough free space to reshuffle the data as needed to make room for the new partition. Heres an example from my testing. I started with a single 250GB hard drive split into two equal partitions: the first named "Lion Ex," currently running Snow Leopard, and the intended target of the Lion install, and the second named "Timex," the Time Ma- chine backup volume for Lion Ex. The output from the diskutil list command appears below. /dev/disk1 #: TYPE NAME SIZE IDENTIFIER 0: GUID_partition_scheme *250.1 GB disk1 1: EFI 209.7 MB disk1s1 2: Apple_HFS Lion Ex 125.0 GB disk1s2 3: Apple_HFS Timex 124.6 GB disk1s3 Now heres that same disk after installing Lion, with the new partition highlighted: /dev/disk1 #: TYPE NAME SIZE IDENTIFIER 0: GUID_partition_scheme *250.1 GB disk1 1: EFI 209.7 MB disk1s1 2: Apple_HFS Lion Ex 124.5 GB disk1s2 3: Apple_Boot Recovery HD 654.6 MB disk1s3 4: Apple_HFS Timex 124.6 GB disk1s4http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 9 of 106
  10. 10. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 The new partition is actually considered a different type: Apple_Boot. The Recovery HD volume wont be automatically mounted upon boot and therefore wont appear in the Finder. Its not even visible in the Disk Utility application, appearing only as a tiny blank space in the partition map for the disk. But as shown above, the command- line diskutil program can see it. Diskutil can mount it too. Doing so reveals the partition as a normal HFS+ volume. The top level contains a di- rectory named com.apple.recovery.boot which in turn contains a few small files related to booting along with an invisible 430MB internally compressed disk im- age file named BaseSystem.dmg. Mount that disk image and you find a 1.52GB bootable Mac OS X volume containing Safari, most of the contents of the standard /Applications/Utilities folder (Disk Utility, Startup Disk, Terminal, etc.), plus a Mac OS X Lion installer application. In other words, it looks a lot like a standard Mac OS X installer DVD. A subset of the files copied to the recovery partition is also copied to the installation target disk by the installer and blessed as the new bootable system. This is what the Lion installer reboots into. The files to install will be read from the Lion installer ap- plication downloaded earlier from the Mac App Store. After the installation is com- plete, the temporary boot files are removed, but the Recovery HD partition remains on the disk. Hold down ⌘R during system startup to automatically boot into the Re- covery HD partition. (Holding down the option key during startup—not a new fea- ture in Lion—will also show the Recovery HD partition as one of the boot volume choices.) Booting from the recovery partition really means mounting and then booting from the BaseSystem.dmg disk image on the recovery partition. Doing so presents a list of the traditional Mac OS X install disc options, including restoring from a Time Ma- chine backup, reinstalling Mac OS X, running Disk Utility, resetting your password, and so on. Theres also an option to get help online, which will launch Safari. Includ- ing Safari on the recovery partition is a nice touch, since most peoples first stop when diagnosing a problem is Google, not the Genius Bar. The upshot is that after all the file compression magic added in Snow Leopard to re- duce the footprint of the OS, Lion steals over half a gigabyte of your disk space as part of its installation process, and never gives it back. The partitions name makes Apples intent clear: its meant as a last-ditch mechanism to diagnose and repair ahttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 10 of 106
  11. 11. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Mac with a hosed boot volume. (Hosed, that is, in the software sense; existing as it does on the boot disk itself, the recovery partition wont be much use if the disk has hardware problems.) Apparently Apple has decided that the ability to boot a Mac into a known-good (soft- ware) state is well worth sacrificing a small amount of disk space. MacBook Air own- ers or other Mac users with diminutive solid-state disk drives may disagree, howev- er. In that case, the disk space can be reclaimed by some judicious repartitioning with Disk Utility (or the diskutil command-line tool) while booted from another disk. But dont be surprised when the fellow at the Genius Bar frowns a little at your devia- tion from the Apple Way. Reconsidering fundamentals The user-visible changes in Lion are legion. Youll be hard-pressed to find any part of the user interface that remains completely unchanged from Snow Leopard, from the look and feel all the way down to basic behaviors like application and document management. In Lion, Apple has taken a hard look at the assumptions underlying the last ten years of Mac OS Xs development—and has decided that a lot of them need to change. Get ready. Lions new look Lets ease into things with a tour of Lions revised user interface graphics. Though Apple still uses the name "Aqua" to refer to Lions interface, the look is a far cry from the lickable, candy-coated appearance that launched the brand. If you can imagine three dials labeled "color," "contrast," and "contour," Apple has been turning them down slowly for years. Lion accelerates that process.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 11 of 106
  12. 12. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Hover to swap: Standard controls in Lion and Snow Leopard The shapes have started to change, too. The traditional capsule shape of the standard button has given way to a squared-off, Chiclets-style appearance. The tubular shape of the progress bars, a fixture since even before the dawn of Mac OS X, has been re- placed with a vaguely puffy stripe of material. Radio buttons, checkboxes, slider thumbs, segmented controls, "tab" controls—nearly everything that used to protrude from the screen now looks as if it was pounded down with a rubber hammer. Even the elements that look identical, like the plain gray window title bars, are slight- ly different from their Snow Leopard counterparts. The new look is not a radical de- parture—everything hasnt gone jet black and grown fur, for example—but this is the first time that nearly every element of the standard GUI has been changed in a way thats identifiable without a color meter or a magnifying glass. For the most part, the new look speaks in a softer voice than its predecessor. The total removal of blue highlights from several controls (e.g., pop-up menus, combo boxes, slider thumbs, and tab controls) makes most interfaces appear slightly less garish. On the other hand, the additional green in the blue highlights that still do exist makes those controls appear more saccharine. Apple says that its goal with the Lion user interface was to highlight content by de- emphasizing the surrounding user interface elements. You can see this most clearlyhttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 12 of 106
  13. 13. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 emphasizing the surrounding user interface elements. You can see this most clearly in sidebar and toolbar icons, which are now monochromatic in most of the important bundled applications. But this has the unfortunate side effect of making interface ele- ments less distinguishable from each other, especially at the small sizes typical in sidebars. Im not sure the "increased emphasis on content" is enough to balance out the loss, especially in applications like the Finder. Appearance changes can have effects beyond emphasis, fashion, and mood. Take the "traffic light" red, yellow, and green window widgets, for example. As you can see in the images on the right, theyve gotten smaller in Lion. Or rather, the colored portion has gotten smaller; the actual clickable area has lost only one pixel in height and five pixels in total width across all three widgets. But the psychological effect of the shrunken appearance is something else entirely. Despite the tiny difference in the functional size, I find myself being ever-so-slightly more careful when targeting these widgets in Lion. Its a little annoying, especially since its not clear to me how the new, smaller size fits into Lions new look. Does such a small reduction in size really serve to better emphasize window content? After all, none of the other controls have gotten any smaller. Other aspects of the new look have clearer intentions. The flatter, more matte look of most controls, and especially the squared-off shape of the standard button, all bring to mind the look of Apples other operating system, iOS. One control in particular takes the iOS connection even further. Finally, theres Apples budding love affair with a particular linen texture. It made its first appearance on the backside of some Dashboard widgets. More recently, it was used as the background pattern for the notifications sheet in iOS 5. In Lion, its fea- tured even more prominently as the background for the newly restyled login screen, now featuring circular frames for user icons. (Also note the subset of menu bar status icons still visible in the top-right corner of the screen.)http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 13 of 106
  14. 14. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Linen for your login screen Scroll bars Scroll bars, which Apple likes to call "scrollers" these days, are among the least- changed interface elements in Mac OS X. While the rest of the Aqua interface was re- fined—edges sharpened, pinstripes removed, shines flattened—scrollbars stubbornly retained their original Aqua look for over a decade. A scroll bar from Mac OS X DP3, released in 2000 A scroll bar from Mac OS X 10.6, released in 2009 Scroll bars havent been entirely static in Mac OS X, however. For many years, iTunes has had its own custom scroll bar look. A scroll bar from iTunes 10.2.2, released in 2011 When these new scroll bars were first introduced in iTunes 7 in 2006, there was some speculation that this was a trial run for a new look that would soon spread through- out the OS. That didnt happen. But now, five years later, scroll bars are finally chang- ing system-wide in Mac OS X. Heres a scroll bar from Lion:http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 14 of 106
  15. 15. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 ing system-wide in Mac OS X. Heres a scroll bar from Lion: A scroll bar from Mac OS X 10.7 Lion The smeared gradient and fuzzy edges of the iTunes scroll thumb are nowhere to be seen. Instead, we have a narrow, monochrome, sharp-edged lozenge. Just like the window widgets, the scroll thumb appears slightly smaller than its Snow Leopard counterpart. (In this case, total scroll bar width and the clickable area are actually the same as in Snow Leopard.) The change in appearance might distract you from whats really different: where are the scroll arrows? You know, the little buttons on either end of the scroll bar (or grouped together on one end) that you click to move the scroll thumb a bit at a time? Well, theyre gone. But wait, theres more. Heres a Finder window. The complete contents of Lions Applications folder…or is it? Though I can assure you that Lion comes with more than eight applications, you wouldnt know it from looking at this screenshot. Forget about the arrows, where are the scroll bars? Placing the cursor into the window and using the scroll wheel on the mouse or two- finger scrolling on a trackpad reveals what you might have already guessed based on the shape and appearance of the new scroll thumbs. Extremely thin, monochrome scroll thumbs fade in as the scrolling begins, and disappear shortly after it ends.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 15 of 106
  16. 16. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 These transient scroll thumbs appear on top of the windows content, not in alleys re- served for them on the edges of the window. Initiating scrolling (via mouse wheel or trackpad) reveals overlay scroll bars. More applications below! These ghostly overlay scroll bars are straight out of iOS. When they were introduced in 2007 on the iPhones 3.5-inch screen, they made perfect sense. Dedicating one or more finger-width strips of the screen for always-visible, touch-draggable scroll bars would have been a colossal waste of pixels (and anything less than a fingers width of pixels would have been too narrow to comfortably use). Overlay scroll bars were es- sential in iOS, and completely in keeping with its direct manipulation theme. In iOS, you dont manipulate an on-screen control to scroll, you simply grab the whole screen with your finger and move it. Apple isnt (yet) asking us to start poking our fingers at our Macs screen, but it does now ship every Mac with some kind of touch-based input device: internal trackpads on laptops, and external trackpads or touch-sensitive mice on desktops. Lion further cements the dominance of touch by making all touch-based scrolling work like it does on a touchscreen. Touching your finger to a control surface and moving it downwards will move the document downwards, revealing more content at top and hiding some of the content that was previously visible on the bottom. This sounds perfectly logical, but it also happens to be exactly the opposite how scrolling has tra- ditionally worked with mouse scroll wheels. The effect is extremely disconcerting, as our fingers unconsciously flick at the scroll-wheel while our eyes see the documenthttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 16 of 106
  17. 17. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 moving the "wrong" way. Scroll direction setting in the Mouse preference pane. Checked means the new Lion scrolling direction is in effect. Thankfully, there is a preference to restore the old mapping of finger movement to scroll direction. Theres a second setting in the Trackpad preference pane, phrased in the opposite way. Unfortunately, the settings are linked; you cant have different val- ues for each kind of input device. Though the unification of scrolling gestures is logical, its difficult to get used to after so many years of doing things the other way. The most common scrolling direction is downwards, and the most natural finger movement is curling inwards. These two things align when using a mouse wheel with the "old" scrolling direction setting. Old habits aside, it may be that the difference between touching a screen directly and touching a separate device on a horizontal surface in front of the screen is just too great to justify a single input vocabulary. Either way, theres sure to be an uncomfortable transition period for everyone. For example, the two-finger swipe to the left or right used to switch between screens in Launchpad (described later) feels "backwards" when the scroll direction preference is set to the traditional, pre-Lion behavior. Perhaps just seeing a screen covered with a grid of icons unconsciously triggers the "iOS expectations" region of our brains. (And if you set the scroll direction to "feel right" for two-finger swiping in Launchpad, then the four-finger swipe between Spaces feels backwards! Sigh.) Scroll bars do more than just let us scroll. First, their state tells us whether theres any- thing more to see. A window with "inactive" (usually shown as dimmed) scroll bars indicates that there is no content beyond what is currently visible in the window. Sec- ond, when a document has more content than can fit in a window, the scroll bars tell us our current position within that document. Finally, the size of the scroll thumb it- self—or the amount of room the scroll thumb has to move within the scroll bar, if you want to look at it that way—gives some hint about the total size of the content. Most computer users arent conscious of such subtleties, but their combined effects are profound. Long-time Mac users might remember a time when scroll thumbs were perfectly square regardless of the total size of a windows content. When I think back to my time using those scroll bars, I dont recall any problems. But just try using thesehttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 17 of 106
  18. 18. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 to my time using those scroll bars, I dont recall any problems. But just try using these so-called "non-proportional" scroll bars today. The modern computer users mind re- volts at the lack of information, usually treating it instead as misleading information about the total size of a windows content. ("This window looked like it had pages and pages of content, but when I dragged the tiny square scroll thumb all the way from the top to the bottom, it only revealed two new lines of text!") Only when this cue is gone do you realize how much youve been relying on it. And keep in mind that proportional scroll thumbs are the most subtle of the cues that scroll bars provide. The others are even more widely relied upon. The complete lack of visible scroll bars leaves a huge information void. Lets put aside the familiar for a moment. In the absence of scroll bars, are there other visual cues that could provide the same information? Well, if truncated content ap- pears at the edge of a window, its usually a safe bet that theres more content in that direction. The prevalence of whitespace (between icons in the Finder, between lines of text, etc.) can make such truncation less obvious or even undetectable, but at least its something. For total content size and position within the document, theres no al- ternative even that good. But fear not, gentle scroller. Like the scroll direction, scroll bar visibility has a dedicat- ed preference (in the General preference pane): Scroll bar settings in the General preference pane The default setting, "Automatically based on input type," will use overlay scroll bars as long as theres at least one touch-capable input device attached (though the track- pad on laptops doesnt count if any other external pointing devices are connected). If you dont like this kind of second-guessing, just choose one of the other options. The "When scrolling" option means always use overlay scroll bars, and the "Always" op- tion means always show scroll bars, using the appearance shown earlier. Lion includes new APIs for briefly "flashing" the overlay scroll bars (i.e., showing them, then fading them out). Most applications included with Lion briefly show the scroll bars for windows that have just appeared on the screen, have just been resized, or have just scrolled to a new position (e.g., when showing the next match while searching within a document). This helps soften the blow of the missing information previously provided by always-visible scroll bars, but only a little.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 18 of 106
  19. 19. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Applications with other UI elements whose correct placement relies on the existence of a reserved 16-pixel stripe for the scroll bar outside the content area of the window may be forced to display what Apple calls "legacy" scroll bars. (Apples term for non- overlay scroll bars tells you all you need to know about which way the wind is blow- ing on this issue.) You can see an example of one such UI element in the image on the right. The document scale pop-up menu (currently showing "100%") pushes the hori- zontal scroll bar to the left to make room for itself. Clearly, this will not work if the scroll bar overlays the content area and is hidden most of the time. Apple suggests that such applications find new homes for these interface elements, at which point the AppKit framework in Lion will allow them to display overlay scroll bars. Lions scroll bars are a microcosm of Apples new philosophy for Mac OS X. This is definitely a case of reconsidering a fundamental part of the operating system—one that hasnt changed this radically in decades, if ever. Its also nearly a straight port from iOS, which is in keeping with Apples professed "back to the Mac" mission. But most importantly, its a concrete example of Apples newfound dedication to simplici- ty. In particular, this change reveals the tremendous weight that Apple gives to visual simplicity. A complete lack of visible scroll bars certainly does make the average Mac OS X screen look a lot less busy. A lack of visual clutter has been a hallmark of Ap- ples hardware and software design for years, and iOS has only accelerated this theme. Also, practically speaking, the sum of all those 16-pixel-wide stripes reserved for scroll bars on window edges may add up to a nontrivial increase in the number of pixels available for displaying content on a Macs screen. But there is a price to be paid for this simplicity; one persons noise is another person- s essential source of information. Visual information, like the size and position of a scroll thumb, is one of the most efficient ways to communicate with humans. (Com- pare with, say, numeric readouts showing document dimensions and the current po- sition as a percentage.) These sacrifices were an essential part of the iPhones success. The iPad, though larg- er, is clearly part of the same touch-based family of products, and is wisely built on the same foundation. But the Mac is a different kettle of fish—and not just because the screen sizes involved may be vastly larger, making the space savings of hidden scroll bars much less important.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 19 of 106
  20. 20. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 The Mac user interface, with its menus, radio buttons, checkboxes, windows, title bars, and yes, scroll bars, is built on an entirely different interactivity model than iOS. The Mac UI was built for a pixel-accurate indirect pointing device; iOS was built for direct manipulation with one or more fingers. The visual similarity of on-screen ele- ments and the technical feasibility of porting them from one OS to the other should not blind us to these essential differences. Its interesting that all of the scrolling changes in Lion have preferences that allow them to be reverted to their pre-Lion behaviors. The defaults clearly indicate the di- rection that Apple wants to go, but the settings to reverse them—public, with real GUIs, rather than undocumented plist hacks—suggest caution, or perhaps even some internal strife surrounding these features. Such caution is well-founded. Hidden scroll bars in particular have trade-offs that change dramatically based on the size of the screen and the input device being used. Like many features in Lion, the scrolling changes are most useful and appropriate on the Macs that are closest to iOS devices in terms of size and input method (the 11- inch MacBook Air being the best example). But on a Mac Pro with dual 27" 2560x1440-pixel displays attached, Lions scrolling defaults make far less sense. Window resizing A lack of traditional scroll bars also means the elimination of the small patch of pixels in the lower-right corner of a window where the vertical and horizontal scroll bars meet. Since 1984, this area has been home to the one and only control used to resize a window. Setting the scroll bar appearance preference to "always visible" restores the clickable real estate, albeit sans the traditional "grip lines." Despite the plain appearance, this resize control works as expected; whats unexpect- ed is the cursor change that accompanies the action. The double-arrow cursor has been used in other operating systems for years, mostly to differentiate two-axis resiz- ing (width and height) from single-axis resizing (height only or width only). When theres only one resize control per window, its obvious that it can be used to change both the width and the height. Lions new cursor can mean only one thing…http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 20 of 106
  21. 21. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Window resizing from all edges (composite image) Thats right, long-suffering switchers, Lion finally allows windows to be resized from any edge and from all four corners, with a special cursor for each of the eight starting points. (When a window is at its size limit, the cursors show an arrow pointing in a single direction—a nice touch.) As you can see from the image above, what Apple hasnt done is add borders to the windows. So where, exactly, do we "grab" when resizing from a borderless window edge? Theres no way around it: some pixels must be sacrificed to the gods of Fittss law. A few pixels within the outer edge of the content area of the window (two to three, depending on where you count from) are commandeered for window resizing pur- poses. You can still click on these areas, and the click event will correctly propagate to the application that owns the window, but youll be clicking with a resize cursor instead of a normal arrow cursor. Two to three pixels doesnt make for a very wide target, however, which is why Ap- ple has chosen to appropriate pixels from both sides of the window border. Four tohttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 21 of 106
  22. 22. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 ple has chosen to appropriate pixels from both sides of the window border. Four to five pixels outside the content area of the window are also clickable for window resiz- ing purposes. Clicks in these areas dont get sent to the window (theyre out of the windows bounds) and they dont get sent to whatever happens to be behind the ac- tive window—you know, the thing that you ostensibly just clicked on. Effectively, Lion windows have thin, invisible borders around them used only for resizing. (Un- like Mac OS 8 and 9 windows, which had real, visible borders, Lion windows cant be dragged by their borders.) When overlay scroll bars are in use, the full 16x16 pixel home of the traditional resize widget in the lower-right corner is clickable, making this still the easiest target for window resizing, whether its visible or not. Lion has a few more surprises on window edges, one of which is window size-relat- ed. Windows belonging to applications that support Lions new full-screen mode may show an embossed double arrow icon on the far-right side of their title bars. Clicking it will cause the window to fill the entire screen. Other windows, the Dock, and even the menu bar are hidden in this mode. The windows title bar also disap- pears, making it unclear how to exit this mode. But just stab the cursor at the top of the screen and the menu bar slides back down into view, containing all the expected menus plus a reversed version of the double arrow symbol. Click the inward-facing arrows to take the current window out of full-screen mode. Animation Mac OS X has always used animation in its user interface, starting with the genie ef- fect over a decade ago, and really ramping up with the introduction of the Core Ani- mation framework three years ago. Lion continues this trend. In nearly all new or changed applications in Lion, if something conceivable can be animated, it is. The Finder is a good example. Even features whose functionality hasnt actually changed in Lion, such as dragging multiple items from one window to another, are given a fresh coating of animation and fades. At its best, animation explicitly communicates information that was either absent or only implied before. For example, the genie animation tells the user where a window goes when its minimized. In other cases, such as the water ripple effect in Dashboard, animation can add a bit of fun to an interface. But danger lurks. A newly discovered animation might delight the user the first timehttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 22 of 106
  23. 23. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 But danger lurks. A newly discovered animation might delight the user the first time its shown, but the 350th time might not seem quite so magical. This is especially true if the animation adds a delay to the task, and if that task is done frequently as part of a time-sensitive overall task. The Dashboard water ripple is acceptable because adding a new widget to the screen is an infrequent task. But if the screen rippled every single time a new window appeared anywhere in the OS, users would revolt. Well, guess what happens every time a new window appears on the screen in Lion? No, its nothing as garish as a water ripple, but there is an animation. Each window starts as a tiny dot centered on the windows eventual position on the screen, then quickly animates to its full size. You get a window! You get a window! Everybody gets a window! This animation conveys no new information. It does not tell the user where a window came from, since the animation starts at the final position of the window. Whether or not the animation actually delays the opening of the window, it certainly feels like it does, which is even more important. This type of animation can make Lion feel slow- er than Snow Leopard. And when an animation like this stutters or skips a few frames due to heavy disk i/o or CPU usage, it makes your whole Mac feel slower, like youre playing a 3D game with an inadequate video card. And for what? For what someone at Apple hopes will be a lasting feeling of delight? Perhaps it could be argued that the animation catches the eye more than a window that appears instantly (though that probably depends on the size of the window and whats behind it on the screen). For "unexpected" windows like error dialog boxes, that could be a benefit. But for "expected" windows (i.e., those that appear in re- sponse to deliberate user input), the powerful, primordial pull of these moving im- ages is an unwelcome distraction, not a benefit. Its conceivable that this animation could delight some users, but I have a hard time believing that the enjoyment will last much past the first week. (Interestingly, this an- imation does not play in reverse when a window is closed. This, perversely, makes window closing feel faster than window opening in Lion.) Unlike the scrolling behaviors discussed earlier, there are no user-visible preferences for these new animations, which makes it all the more important for Apple to strike a good balance. In my estimation, Lion crosses the line in a few places; the new win- dow animation is the most egregious example. I look forward to discovering a way tohttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 23 of 106
  24. 24. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 dow animation is the most egregious example. I look forward to discovering a way to disable it. [Update: here it is: defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomat‐ icWindowAnimationsEnabled -bool NO] Heres to the crazy ones Bruce Tognazzini, founder of the Apple Human Interface Group and 14-year Apple veteran (1978-1992), is best known as the man behind the publication of the Apple Human Interface Guidelines. In 1992, he published a book of his own: Tog on Inter- face. Most of the examples in the book were taken from his work at Apple. Heres an excerpt from pages 156-157: Natural objects have different perceivable characteristics, among which people can easily discriminate. Take the bristlecone pine. The oldest living thing on earth, it has been formed and shaped by the wind and scarred by thousands of years of existence. The youngest school kids look at it and know there must be a lot of wind around there. They know the pine may be even older than their father. They also know, to a certainty, that it is a tree. Kristee Kreitman Rosendahl, responsible for not only the graphic design of HyperCard, but also much of its spirit, created a collection of Home icons that shipped with the product. No one has ever shown confusion at seeing various little houses on various cards. Never once has someone turned around and said, "Gee, this little house has three windows and seems to be a Cape Cod. Will that take me to a different Home card than that two-story bunk house back in the other section?" People are designed to handle multiplexed meanings gracefully, without conscious thought. In System 7, we multiplexed the meaning of system extensions, by develop- ing a characteristic "generic" extension look, to which developers can add their own unique look for their specific product. As the "bandwidth" of the interface increases, these kinds of multiplexings will become more and more practical. This is Tog, godfather of the old-school Apple Human Interface Guidelines, stating emphatically that interface elements do not have to look exactly the same in order forhttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 24 of 106
  25. 25. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 emphatically that interface elements do not have to look exactly the same in order for their function to be discerned. In fact, in the final sentence, Tog predicts that in- creased computing power will lead to more diverse representations. The increased "bandwidth" of user interfaces that Tog wrote about almost 20 years ago has now come to pass, and then some. Examples of "multiplexed meanings" in Mac OS X are not hard to find. Look at the Dock, which has changed appearance several times during the history of Mac OS X while still remaining immediately identifiable. And, as discussed earlier, nearly every standard GUI control has changed its appearance in Lion. As Tog notes, people are excellent at discarding unimportant details and focusing on the most salient aspects of an items appearance. Now, keeping all this in mind, I invite you to gaze upon this screenshot of the version of iCal that ships with Lion. A stitch in time saves…something, presumably When this change was first revealed in the second developer preview of Lion, there was much gnashing of teeth. But ask yourself, is the function of every control in the toolbar clear? Or rather, is it any less clear than it would be if iCal used the standard Mac OS X toolbar appearance?http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 25 of 106
  26. 26. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Mac OS X toolbar appearance? The immediate, visceral negative reaction to the rich Corinthian leather appearance had little to do with usability. What it came down to—what first impressions like these always seem to come down to—is whether or not you think its ugly. People will take "really cool-looking but slightly harder to use" over "usable but ugly" any day. But theres something much more important than the change in appearance going on here. Lions iCal doesnt look different in an arbitrary way; its been changed with purpose. After the initial stitched-leather shock wore off, Apple watchers everywhere leapt on the new iCals deeper sin: its skeuomorphic design. From Wikipedia (empha- sis added): A skeuomorph is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original. Skeuomorphs may be delib- erately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar, such as copper cladding on zinc pennies or computer printed postage with circular town name and cancellation lines. An alternative definition is "an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the arti- fact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material." Apple has been down this road before, most notably with the QuickTime 4.0 player application which included bright ideas like a "dial" control for adjusting the volume. Dials work great in the real, physical world, and are certainly familiar to most people. But a dial control in the context of a 2D mouse-driven GUI is incongruous and awk- ward at best, and completely incomprehensible at worst. The brushed metal appearance of the QuickTime player would later inspire an offi- cially supported Mac OS X window appearance starting in version 10.2, only to be dropped completely five years later in 10.5s grand interface unification. Now, three years after that, the pendulum is swinging in the other direction again—and hard. In the case of iCal, Apple has aped the appearance of an analogous physical object (a tear-off paper calendar) but retained the behavior of standard Mac OS X controls. This avoids the problems of the QuickTime 4.0 players dial control, but its far from a clean win. The trouble is, the new iCal looks so much like a familiar physical object that its easyhttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 26 of 106
  27. 27. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 The trouble is, the new iCal looks so much like a familiar physical object that its easy to start expecting it to behave like one as well. For example, iCal tries very hard to sell the tear-off paper calendar illusion, with the stitched binding, the tiny remains of already-removed sheets, and even a page curl animation when advancing through the months. But can you grab the corner of a page with your mouse and tear it off? Nope, you have to use the arrow buttons or a keyboard command, just like in the pre- vious version of iCal. Can you scribble in the margins? Can you cross off days with a pen? Can you riffle through the pages? No, no, and no. At the same time, iCal is still constrained by some of the limitations of its physical counterpart. A paper calendar must choose a single way to break up the days in the year. Usually, each page contains a month, but theres no reason for a virtual calendar to be limited in the same way. When dealing with events that span months, its much more convenient to view time as a continuous stream of weeks or days. This is espe- cially true on large desktop monitors, where zooming the iCal window to full screen doesnt show any more days but just makes the days in the current month larger. The new version of Address Book in Lion is an even more egregious example.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 27 of 106
  28. 28. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 These graphics are writing checks this interface cant cash Address Book goes so far in the direction of imitating a physical analog that it starts to impair the identification of standard controls. The window widgets, for example, are so integrated into the design that theyre easy to overlook. And as in iCal, the amazing detail of the appearance implies functionality that doesnt exist. Pages cant be turned by dragging, and even if they could, the number of pages on either side of the spine never changes. The window cant be closed like a book, either. That red bookmark cant be pulled up or down or removed. (Clicking it actually turns the page backwards to reveal the list of groups. Did you guess that?) The three-pane view (groups → people → detail) is gone, presumably because a book cant show three pages at once. Within each paper "page" sits, essentially, an excerpt from the user interface of the previous version of Address Book. Its a mixed metaphor that sends mixed signals. These newly redesigned Mac OS X applications are clearly inspired by their iOS counterparts, which bear similar graphical flourishes and skeuomorphic design ele- ments. (Address Book in particular is a dead ringer for the Contacts app on the iPad.) In iOS, the inability to turn pages with the flick of a finger or yank out that tantalizing red bookmark is even more frustrating. In both environments, when the behaviors seemingly promised by the graphical design arent delivered, all this artwork that was so clearly labored over fades into the background. The application trains us to ignore it. What was once, at best, a momentary amusement is reduced to visual noise. In 2011, were far past the point where computer interfaces need to reference their forebearers in the physical world in order to be understandable (though its possible Apple thinks the familiarity of such designs is still an effective way to reduce intimi- dation, especially for novice users). At the same time, hardware and software have advanced to the point where theres now ample "bandwidth" (to use Togs term) to support visual and functional nuances beyond the bare necessities. Interface designers are faced with the challenge of how best to use the glut of re- sources now at their disposal. As Lions iCal and Address Book applications demon- strate, an alternate description of this situation might be "enough rope to hang your- self." Window management Over the years, Apple has added several features that could loosely be defined ashttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 28 of 106
  29. 29. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Over the years, Apple has added several features that could loosely be defined as "window management aids." The first, and arguably most successful, was Exposé, in- troduced in Panther back in 2003. Two years later, Tiger shipped with Dashboard, which provided a dedicated screen for small "widget" windows, keeping them off the main screen. In 2007, Leopard brought official support for virtual desktops to Mac OS X under the name Spaces. Each of these features came with its own set of configurable keyboard shortcuts, hot screen corners, and (eventually) multi-touch gestures. While each was understand- able and useful in isolation, it was up to each user to figure out how best to incorpo- rate them into a workflow. In Lion, Apple has taken a stab at consolidation under the umbrella name of Mission Control. Each individual feature still exists, albeit in slight- ly more limited forms, but activating one thing now provides access to them all. Using any one of the supported Mission Control activation methods—a keyboard shortcut, a hot screen corner, or a four-finger upwards swipe—causes the current desktop picture to recede slightly into the center of the screen, revealing behind it our old friend the linen pattern. Overlaid on this are groups of windows, badged by the icons of the applications to which they belong. Along the top of the screen sit all open Spaces. (In Lion, each full-screen window creates a new Space, so those windows ap- pear at the top rather than grouped with the other windows from the same applica- tion.) Dashboard is also (optionally) given its own Space.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 29 of 106
  30. 30. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Mission Control: Exposé + Spaces + Dashboard A surprising number of things can be done from this screen. As with Exposé, clicking on any window will bring it to the front. Windows can also be dragged into any of the available Spaces (excluding Dashboard and those that contain a single full-screen window). Moving the cursor (or dragging a window) to the upper-right corner of the screen causes a panel with a "+" character to appear; clicking this creates a new space. Holding down the option key makes Dashboard-style "close" widgets appear on any non-fullscreen-window Spaces (except the original Desktop Space, which can never be closed). The biggest limitation of this new arrangement is that Spaces are now confined to a one-dimensional line of virtual desktops. Four-finger swiping between spaces feels great, but theres no wrap-around when you hit the end. As big a step down as this is from the much more flexible grid arrangement of Spaces in earlier versions of Mac OS X, the new limitations are probably a good idea. The new behavior of full-screen windows and the surprisingly natural-feeling four-finger swipes used to switch between them and enter Mission Control means that many more Mac users will likely find themselves using these new features than ever usedhttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 30 of 106
  31. 31. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 more Mac users will likely find themselves using these new features than ever used the combination of Exposé and Spaces in earlier versions of the OS. A simple line of spaces with no wrap-around provides a safe, understandable environment for all these new Spaces users. For the experts, well, consolidation always has its price. In this case, as in many oth- ers, Apple has decided that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few. Application management For all its warts, the radical simplification of application management brought to Mac OS X by the Dock really has benefitted the platform. As I wrote in my ten year Mac OS X retrospective, "For every user who continues to be frustrated by the Docks limi- tations, there are thousands of others who are buoyed in their computing efforts by its reassuring simplicity and undemanding design." But the Dock falls short, especially for novice users, as an application launcher. Or rather, it falls short if the application to be launched isnt actually in the Dock. Most novice users I know want to have every application they are likely to use available in the Dock at all times. As these users gain experience, the Dock can become a very crowded place. But why are these increasingly Mac-savvy users stuffing their Docks to the gills rather than limiting its contents to just the applications they use most fre- quently? The answer lies in how applications not in the Dock are located and launched. Choic- es include the Finder, Spotlight, or (I suppose) a Terminal window. Moving from an always-visible line of colorful icons thats front and center on the screen to any one of those alternatives represents a huge increase in conceptual and mechanical complexi- ty. If you dont understand how typing the name of an application into a search box can be so much more difficult than clicking an icon in the Dock, I suggest that you have not spent enough time with novice users. Such users often dont even know the name of the application they want—or if they do, they dont know how to spell it. Thats be- fore considering the frequent disorientation caused by the rapid-fire search results re- finement animation in the Spotlight menu, or the existence of multiple files whose contents or names contain the string being searched for. And this all assumes novices know (or remember) what Spotlight is and how to activate it in the first place.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 31 of 106
  32. 32. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 The jump in complexity from the Dock to the Finder, I think, needs less explanation. As a general rule, novice users just dont understand the file system. They dont un- derstand the hierarchy of machines, devices, and volumes; they dont grasp the con- cept of the current working directory; they dont know how to identify a file or fold- ers position within the hierarchy. Fear of the file system practically defines novice users; it is usually the last and biggest hurdle in the journey from timid experimenta- tion to basic technical competence. To put it another way, your dad cant find it if its not in the Dock. (Well, my dad cant, anyway. Sorry to all the Mac-savvy dads out there; I am one, after all.) In Lion, Apple aims to fill that gap with an application launching interface thats meant to be as easy to use as the Dock while providing access to every application on the system. Its called Launchpad, and youll be forgiven for thinking that it looks like yet another interface element shamelessly ported from iOS. Launchpad: iOS’s SpringBoard on your Mac Launchpad can be activated with a Dock icon (which, importantly, is in the Lion Dock by default), a multitouch gesture (a somewhat awkward pinch with the thumbhttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 32 of 106
  33. 33. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Dock by default), a multitouch gesture (a somewhat awkward pinch with the thumb and three fingers), or by dragging the mouse cursor to a designated corner of the screen. The grid of application icons that appears doesnt just look like iOSs Spring- Board, it also behaves like it, right down to the "folders" created by dragging icons on top of each other. Holding down the option key makes all the icons sprout close widgets as they start to wiggle. Swiping right and left on the touchpad or with a click and drag of the mouse will move from screen to screen, accompanied by a familiar iOS-like dotted page in- dicator. Launchpad will find applications in the standard /Applications folder as well as ~/Applications (i.e., a folder named "Applications" in your home directory), and any subfolders within them. Applications in the ~/Downloads folder or on the desk- top are not detected, which may actually be a problem for Mac users who have not yet figured out how to perform drag-and-drop application installations—yet another area where the Mac App Store will help make things simpler. Speaking of which, when purchasing an application in the version of the Mac App Store that ships with Lion, the application icon leaps out of the Mac App Store win- dow and lands in the next available position in the Launchpad grid, with an iOS-like progress bar overlaid on the new applications icon. If the Launchpad icon is in thehttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 33 of 106
  34. 34. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 progress bar overlaid on the new applications icon. If the Launchpad icon is in the Dock, it displays a similar progress bar and the icon bounces once when the down- load finishes. Both serve as examples of animation that conveys useful information. "Heres where the application you just purchased has landed on your Mac," the animation says. "To find it again, click the icon that just bounced in your Dock." Given the wealth of excellent third-party application launchers available for the Mac, Im not sure theres any reason for an expert user to use Launchpad instead of their current favorite alternative. But unlike, say, the Dock, Launchpad is easily ignored. Turn off the gesture, deactivate the hot corner, and remove the icon from the Dock and youll never have to see it. For everyone else, however, Launchpad will provide a huge improvement in usabili- ty. Even expert users should be excited about its arrival because it should make tele- phone or e-mail-based family technical support a bit easier. Document model Lion introduces what Apple calls, with characteristic conviction, a "modernized" doc- ument model. Im inclined to agree with this word choice. Like so many other aspects of Lion, document management is attempting to shed its legacy baggage—and theres plenty to shed. The conventions governing the interaction between users, applica- tions, and documents have not changed much since the personal computer became popular in the early 1980s. Apple first attempted a minor revolution in this area with OpenDoc in the 1990s. In- stead of launching an application in order to create a document, OpenDoc promised a world where the user would open a document and then work on it using an inter- changeable set of components created by multiple vendors. In other words, OpenDoc was document-centric rather than application-centric. The changes in OpenDoc promised to radically shift the balance of power in the ap- plication software market. But powerful software companies like Microsoft and Adobe were not particularly motivated to break their popular, full-featured applica- tions into smaller components that customers could mix and match with components from other vendors. At the time OpenDoc was released, Apple was nearing the nadir of its popularity and influence in the industry. Predictably, OpenDoc died on thehttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 34 of 106
  35. 35. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 of its popularity and influence in the industry. Predictably, OpenDoc died on the vine. Fast-forward to today, where a much more powerful and confident Apple takes an- other crack at the same area. The most pressing problem, todays Apple has decided, is not the interaction between application code and document data, but rather the in- teraction between the user and the computer. Despite decades of public exposure to personal computers, human expectations and habits have stubbornly refused to align with the traditional model of creating, open- ing, and saving documents. The tales of woe have become clichés: The student who writes for an hour without saving and loses everything when the application crashes. The businessman who accidentally saves over the "good" version of a document, then takes it upon himself to independently reinvent version control—poorly— by compulsively saving each new revision of every document under slightly dif- ferent names. The Mac power user who reflexively selects the "Dont Save" button for one doc- ument after another when quitting an application with many open windows, only to accidentally lose the one document that actually had important changes. The father who swears he saved the important document, but cant, for the life of him, remember where it is or what he called it. At this point, we can no longer call this a problem of education. Weve tried educa- tion for years upon years; children have been born and grown to adulthood in the PC era. And yet even the geekiest among us have lost data, time, or both due to a "stu- pid" mistake related to creating, opening, and saving documents. And so Apples decree in Lion is as it was on the original Macintosh in 1984, and as it is on iOS today: the machine must serve the human, not the other way around. To that end, Apple has added APIs in Lion that, when used properly, enable the follow- ing experience. The user does not have to remember to save documents. All work is automati- cally saved. Closing a document or quitting an application does not require the user to make decisions about unsaved changes.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 35 of 106
  36. 36. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 The user does not have to remember to save document changes before causing the documents file to be read by another application (e.g., attaching an open document with unsaved changes to an e-mail). Quitting an application, logging out, or restarting the computer does not mean that all open documents and windows have to be manually re-opened next time. Earlier versions of Mac OS X supported a form of automatic saving. If you had an open TextEdit document with unsaved changes, TextEdit would (eventually) save a backup copy of the file with the text " (Autosaved)" appended to the file name. If the application crashed or the Mac lost power, you could retrieve (some of) your un- saved changes by finding the autosaved file and opening it. Lion introduces a variant of this practice: autosave in place. Rather than creating a new file alongside the original, Lion continuously saves changes directly to the open document. It does this when there are large document changes, during idle times, or on demand in response to requests from other applications for access to the docu- ments data. For all of this to work, applications must be updated to use the new APIs. In particu- lar, a new File Coordination framework must be used in order for an application to notify another that it wants to access a document thats currently open. The applica- tion that has the document open will then trigger an autosave to disk before allowing the requesting application to reference the documents data. Attaching a document to an e-mail or using Quick Look in the Finder are two examples of when this might happen. At this point, a little bit of "geek panic" might be setting in. For those of us who un- derstand the pre-Lion document model and have been using it for decades, the idea that we are no longer in control of when changes to open documents are saved to disk seems insane! What if I accidentally delete a huge swath of text from a document and then Lion decides to autosave immediately afterwards? Not every change is meant to be saved, after all. The practice of speculatively making radical changes to a document with the comfort of knowing that none of those changes are permanent until we hit ⌘S is something experienced Mac users take for granted and may be loath to give up. I confess, I omitted one item from the list of changes enabled by Lions modern docu-http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 36 of 106
  37. 37. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 ment model. Here it is: The user does not have to manually manage multiple copies of document files in order to retrieve old versions. If you still dont get it, check out the item in the File menu formerly known as "Save." It now reads "Save a Version" instead. Every time a Lion-savvy application autosaves a document, it stores a copy of the previous version before it overwrites the file with the new data. A pop-up menu in the title bar of each document window provides ac- cess to previous versions. A menu in the title bar provides access to previous versions of a file Select the "Browse All Versions…" menu item to enter a Time Machine-like space- themed screen showing all previous versions of the file. Using this interface, the doc- ument can be reverted to any earlier version, or snippets of data from earlier versions may be copied and pasted into the current version. Though the star field background and surrounding timeline interface are provided automatically, the document win- dows themselves are actual windows within the application. They can be scrolled and manipulated in any way allowed by the application, though the contents of pre- vious versions may not be modified.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 37 of 106
  38. 38. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 Document version browser…in spaaaaace! The standard Cocoa document framework will manage many of the details for appli- cation developers, including automatically purging very old versions of files. The document versioning interface shown above is also integrated with Time Machine, showing both locally stored file versions and older versions that only exist on the Time Machine backup volume. Going forwards or backwards in the document time- line is accompanied by a neat star-field "warp" animation. Restoring the document to an earlier state actually just pushes a duplicate of that state to the front of the stack of all changes. In other words, restoring a document to its state as of an hour ago does not discard all the changes that happened during that hour. Returning to the title bar pop-up menu, the "Revert to Last Saved Version" menu item returns the document to its last explicitly saved state (i.e., what it looked like the last time the user typed ⌘S or selected the "Save a Version" menu item). "Duplicate" will create a new document containing the same data as the current document. Final- ly, the "Lock" item will prevent any further changes to the document until it is explic- itly unlocked by the user. Documents will also automatically be locked if theyre nothttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 38 of 106
  39. 39. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 itly unlocked by the user. Documents will also automatically be locked if theyre not modified for a little while. The auto-lock time is configurable in the "Options…" screen of the Time Machine preference pane (of all places), with values from one day to one year. The default is two weeks. The auto-lock delay setting, cleverly hidden in the Time Machine preference pane There is no graphical interface to previous versions of documents outside of an appli- cation. Previous versions cant be viewed or restored from within the Finder, for ex- ample. Forcing all version manipulation to be within the application is limiting, but it also neatly solves the problem of how to present document contents with full fidelity —beyond what Quick Look offers—when looking at past revisions. One unexpected implication of autosave is that it makes quitting applications much less painful. If youve ever had to quickly log out or shut down a Mac that has been up and working hard for weeks or months, you know how awful it is to have to wade through umpteen dialog boxes, each demanding a decision about unsaved changes before allowing you to continue. These are not easy questions, especially for files that may have been open for a long time. Put aside deciding whether the changes are worth saving; can you even remem- ber what the unsaved changes are? Were they intentional, or did you accidentally lean on the keyboard and delete a selected item some time last week? Now multiply this dilemma by the number of open documents with unsaved changes—and imag- ine youre in a hurry. Its not a pleasant experience. Autosave eliminates these hassles. Quitting an application that supports autosave happens instantly, with no additional user input required—always. Of course, by quitting an application (or quitting all applications by logging out or restarting) youre also losing all of your accumulated state: all your open documents, the size and position of their windows, scroll positions, selection state. Losing state can prove even more painful than playing "20 questions" with a swarm of "unsavedhttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 39 of 106
  40. 40. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 can prove even more painful than playing "20 questions" with a swarm of "unsaved changes" dialog boxes. Assuming you can remember what documents you had open, can you find them again? Lion offers new APIs to address this problem as well. A suite of new state encoding/decoding hooks allow Lion applications to save and restore any and all as- pects of document state. Upon relaunch, an application is expected to restore all the documents open when it was last quit, with all their state preserved. So, hows that "geek panic" now? Still there, huh? Well, let me try to reassure you. As a committed user of a great Mac text editor that, years ago, implemented its own ver- sion of almost all the document management features described so far, I can tell you that you get used to it very quickly. Spoiled by it, in fact. Ruined by it, some would say. Yes, its a very different model from the one were all used to. But its also a better model—not just for novices, but for geeks too. Think about it: never lose data because you forgot to save. Quit applications with im- punity. Retrieve old versions of documents at any time, in whole or in part. Build up a nice arrangement of open documents and windows, knowing that your hard work will not be trashed the next time you quit the application or need to restart for an OS security update. The final piece of the puzzle is not strictly document-related, but it puts the bow on the package. When logging out or restarting, Lion presents an option (selected by de- fault) to restore all open applications when you next log in. And relaunching a Lion- savvy application, of course, causes it to restore its open documents. Putting it all together, this means that you can log out or shut down your Mac with- out being asked any questions by needy applications and without losing any of your data or window state. When you next log in, the screen should look exactly the same as it did just before you logged out. (In fact, Lion appears to "cheat" and briefly presents a static image of your earlier screen while it works on relaunching your apps and restoring your open documents. Sneaky, but an effective way to make state restoration feel faster than it really is.) Process model If you were flipping out over the document changes described in the previous sec- tion, buckle up, because the discomfort level is about to rise yet again.http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 40 of 106
  41. 41. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 tion, buckle up, because the discomfort level is about to rise yet again. The small indicator lights shown beneath running applications in the Dock are now optional in Lion. Three of these applications are running In pre-release builds of Lion, all applications in the Dock looked exactly the same, running or otherwise. At the last minute, it seems Apple chickened out and enabled the indicator lights by default. Apples message with this feature is a simple one, but also one that the nerdly mind rebels against: "It doesnt matter if an application is running or not. You shouldnt care. Stop thinking about it." Geek panic! Remain calm. Lets start with the APIs. Sudden Termination, a feature that was intro- duced in Snow Leopard, allows applications to indicate to the system that its safe to kill them "impolitely" (i.e., by sending them SIGKILL, causing them to terminate im- mediately, with no chance for potentially time-consuming clean-up operations to exe- cute). Applications are expected to set this bit when theyre sure theyre not in the middle of doing something, have no open files, no unflushed buffers, and so on. This feature enables Snow Leopard to log out, shut down, and restart more quickly than earlier versions of Mac OS X. When it can, the OS simply kills processes instead of politely asking them to exit. (When Snow Leopard was released, Apple made sure its own applications and daemon processes supported Sudden Termination, even if third-party applications didnt.) Lion includes a new feature called Automatic Termination. Whereas Sudden Termi- nation lets an application tell the system when its okay to terminate it with extreme prejudice, Automatic Termination lets an application tell the system that its okay to politely ask the program to exit. But wait, isnt it always okay for the OS to politely ask an application to exit? Isnt that whats always happened in Mac OS X on logout, shutdown, or restart? Yes, buthttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 41 of 106
  42. 42. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 that whats always happened in Mac OS X on logout, shutdown, or restart? Yes, but what makes Automatic Termination different is when and why this might happen. In Lion, the OS may terminate applications that are not in use in order to reclaim re- sources—primarily memory, but also things like file descriptors, CPU cycles, and processes. You read that right. Lion will quit your running applications behind your back if it decides it needs the resources, and if you dont appear to be using them. The heuristic for determining whether an application is "in use" is very conservative: it must not be the active application, it must have no visible, non-minimized windows—and, of course, it must explicitly support Automatic Termination. Automatic Termination works hand-in-hand with autosave. Any application that supports Automatic Termination should also support autosave and document re- store. Since only applications with no visible windows are eligible for Automatic Ter- mination, and since by default the Dock does not indicate whether or not an applica- tion is running, the user might not even notice when an application is automatically terminated by the system. No dialog boxes will ask about unsaved changes, and when the user clicks on the application in the Dock to reactivate it, it should relaunch and appear exactly as it did before it was terminated. This is effectively a deprecation of the Quit command. It also, perhaps coincidentally, solves the age-old problem of former Windows users expecting applications to termi- nate when they no longer have any open windows. When Automatic Termination is enabled in an application, thats exactly what will happen—if and when the system needs to reclaim some resources, that is. As if all of this isnt enough, Lion features one final application management twist. When an application is terminated in Lion, all the usual things appear to happen. If the running application indicator is enabled, the small dot will disappear from be- neath the applications Dock icon. Assuming its not a permanent resident, the appli- cation icon will disappear from the Dock. The application will no longer appear in the command-tab application switcher, or in Mission Control. You might therefore conclude that this applications process has terminated. A quick trip to the Activity Monitor application or the "ps" command-line utility may dissuade you of that notion. Lion reserves the right to keep an applications process around just in case the user decides to relaunch it. Upon relaunch, the application ap-http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 42 of 106
  43. 43. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 around just in case the user decides to relaunch it. Upon relaunch, the application ap- pears to start up instantly—because it was never actually terminated, but was simply removed from all parts of the GUI normally occupied by running applications. Thats right, gentle readers. In Lion, an ostensibly "running" application may have no associated process (because the operating system automatically terminated it in order to reclaim resources) and an application may have a process even when it doesnt ap- pear to be running. Applications without processes. Processes without applications. Did Lion just blow your mind? The pitch The application and document model changes in Lion are a radical break with the past—the past of the desktop, that is. Everything described above has existed since day one on Apples mobile platform. Indeed, iOS is the most compelling argument in favor of the changes in Lion. For every objection offered by a long-time personal com- puter aficionado, there are millions of iOS users countering the argument every day with their fingers and their wallets. These changes in Lion are meant to reduce the number of things the user has to care about. And while you may think you really do need to care about when your documents are saved to disk or when the memory occupied by an application is returned to the sys- tem, you may be surprised by how little you think about these things once you be- come accustomed to the computer managing them for you. If youre an iOS user, think about how often youve wanted a "Save" button in an app on your iPhone or iPad, for example. So thats the pitch: Lion will bring the worry-free usability of iOS application and document management to the Mac. For the vast majority of Mac users, I think it will be an easy sale. The reality Theres a common thread running through all of the application and document mod- el features described above: theyre all opt-in, and developers must add code to their applications to support them. Apple has some ability to hasten the transition to Lion- savvy applications through evangelism, positive reinforcement (the carrot), and the increasing popularity of the Mac App Store (the stick). But no matter what Apple does, the idyllic image of an iOS-like experience on your Mac will take a long time tohttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 43 of 106
  44. 44. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 does, the idyllic image of an iOS-like experience on your Mac will take a long time to materialize. In the meantime, its easy to envision a frustrating hodgepodge of old and new Mac applications running on Lion, making users second-guess their hard-won computing instincts at every turn. What I think will actually happen is that the top-tier Mac de- velopers will quickly add support for some or all of these new features and users will start to look down on applications that still behave the "old way." Im sure thats how Apple hopes things turn out, too. Internals The previous release of Mac OS X focused on internal changes. My review did the same, covering compiler features, programming language extensions, new libraries, and other details that were mostly invisible to end-users. Lion is most definitely not an internals-focused release, but its also big enough that it has its share of important changes to the core OS accompanying its more obvious user-visible changes. If this is your first time reading an Ars Technica review of Mac OS X and youve made it this far, be warned: this section will be even more esoteric than the ones youve already read. If you just want to see more screenshots of new or changed applications, feel free to skip ahead to the next section. We nerds wont think any less of you. Security Apples approach to security has always been a bit unorthodox. Microsoft has spent the last several years making security a top priority for Windows, and has done so in a very public way. Today, Windows 7 is considered vastly more secure than its wide- ly exploited ancestor, Windows XP. And despite the fact that Microsoft now distrib- utes its own virus/malware protection software, a burgeoning market still exists for third-party antivirus software. Meanwhile, on the Mac, Apple has only very recently added some basic malware protection to Mac OS X, and it did so quietly. Updates have been similarly quiet, giv- ing the impression that Apple will only talk about viruses and malware if asked a di- rect question about a specific, real piece of malicious software. This approach is typical of Apple: dont say anything until you have somethinghttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 44 of 106
  45. 45. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review 04/01/12 19:03 meaningful to say. But it can be maddening to security experts and journalists alike. As for end-users, well, until there is a security problem that affects more than a tiny minority of Mac users, its hard to find an example of how Apples policies and prac- tices have failed to protect Mac users at least as well as Microsoft protects Windows users. Sandboxing Just because Apple is quiet, that doesnt mean it hasnt been taking real steps to im- prove security on the Mac. In Leopard, Apple added a basic form of sandboxing to the kernel. Many of the daemon processes that make Mac OS X work are running within sandboxes in Snow Leopard. Again, this was done with little fanfare. Running an application inside a sandbox is meant to minimize the damage that could be caused if that application is compromised by a piece of malware. A sandboxed ap- plication voluntarily surrenders the ability to do many things that a normal process run by the same user could do. For example, a normal application run by a user has the ability to delete every single file owned by that user. Obviously, a well-behaved application will not do this. But if an application becomes compromised, it may be coerced into doing something destructive. In Lion, the sandbox security model has been greatly enhanced, and Apple is finally promoting it for use by third-party applications. A sandboxed application must now include a list of "entitlements" describing exactly what resources it needs in order to do its job. Lion supports about 30 different entitlements which range from basic things like the ability to create a network connection or to listen for incoming net- work connections (two separate entitlements) to sophisticated tasks like capturing video or still images from a built-in camera. It might seem like any nontrivial document-based Mac application will, at the very least, need to declare an entitlement that will allow it to both read from and write to any directory owned by the current user. After all, how else would the user open and save documents? And if thats the case, wouldnt that entirely defeat the purpose of sandboxing? Apple has chosen to solve this problem by providing heightened permissions to a particular class of actions: those explicitly initiated by the user. Lion includes a trust- ed daemon process called Powerbox (pboxd) whose job is to present and controlhttp://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.ars Page 45 of 106

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