To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Apple OS X 10.7 Lion review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £21
inc VAT

Not every new feature will please everyone, but Lion’s most contentious iOS touches can at least be turned off and it's a good value upgrade


These two interface tweaks are relatively minor, but they’re far from the only ones Apple has made to align Lion with the way iOS works. One of the oddest changes is the new trackpad setting that reverses the long-established scrolling behaviour for windows. In short, a two-finger swipe on a trackpad now works just like it does on an iPad or iPhone — drag down and the window content, such as a document, moves down, swipe up and up it goes. The problem is that while this makes perfect intuitive sense on a touchscreen device, where you move content around directly beneath your finger, there’s a mental disconnect when its done with a trackpad sitting on a desktop, particularly when you’re used to the normal Windows or Mac OS scroll-down-to-move-cursor-down behaviour. We suspect new Mac users, and anyone prepared to stick with it for a few weeks, will take to it, but if not both scroll bars and scroll behaviour can be restored to their usual selves.

Lion trackpad

Lion has quite a few new multitouch gestures that bring it into line with the iPhone and iPad – we feel that Apple may be favouring touch pads rather than mice for Mac control. A two-finger double-tap activates the same kind of smart zoom in Safari as it does in iOS – where the browser zooms in to make text fit the screen automatically – and a three-finger swipe switches between applications when they’re running in Lion’s new full-screen mode, where all extraneous window furniture is hidden. Multi-touch gestures also activate Mission Control, the souped-up replacement for Exposé and Spaces, as well as the new Launchpad application launcher that’s a familiar sight on iPads and iPhones.

This iOSification also drives two other major new Lion features designed to make Macs easier to use. First, there are now safeguards to stop you forgetting to save a document or accidentally saving over a file, losing the original. Lion’s new Auto Save feature not only saves an open document automatically whenever a change is made (using ‘untitled’ as the name, if need be), but it also maintains a version history that can be browsed in a Time Machine-like interface. So, when you quit an application you’re no longer shown a save prompt, and an overwritten document can always be recovered by opening it and reverting to an earlier state — assuming it’s a file created with an Auto Save-compatible application. For example, it doesn’t work with Microsoft Office at the moment, so Microsoft will need to upgrade its suite to take advantage of the feature.

Lion Autosave

Auto Save works in perfect conjunction with another new Lion feature – Resume. When enabled, the last state of the Mac is restored after a reboot, just as it would be after waking from sleep — and Lion’s abolition of save dialog boxes means that reboots are much quicker than usual. This won’t be that useful to anyone who mainly puts their Mac to sleep, but it’s handy for coping with reboots forced by software updates, not to mention stretching out laptop battery life by shutting down rather than sleeping. There can be a bit of a wait while Lion gets everything up and running again after a restart, but the feature can be disabled on demand using a toggle on the Restart/Shut down dialog box.

Pages: 1 2 3


Price £21
Rating ****

Read more