Well, despite all the warnings not to, last night I updated my OS to OSX Lion. Just thought I’d share some of my thoughts on it so far for those still on the fence, or wisely waiting a little bit longer. The main thing that made me decide to give it a try was seeing that the latest beta of Live (8.2.5b1) is now listed as Lion compatible. I figure I have a current Time Machine backup of my Snow Leopard (SL) install if things just aren’t working, and I’m going to need to upgrade to Lion eventually anyway in the future. The fact that you can redownload if needed means I can always reinstall Lion at a later date.
I’m running it on a 2010 i7 2.66 MacBook Pro, for those that are curious.
The download and install process was pretty simple, took only 45 minutes to download, and roughly 20 minutes to install. No fancy launch screens after the install is complete this time, your computer just boots back to the desktop and looks just like SL did before the install. There’s some new icons in the Dock, mainly for Mission Control and the App Store, and the current user name is now displayed in the Task Bar (easy enough to CMD drag it off though).
Once you start using the computer more, the changes are more obvious. The main thing I read about was people hating on the new reversed scrolling behaviour. It was a little weird at first, but honestly within a couple minutes I was used to it and I think it makes more sense. The one thing I didn’t realize is that the scroll wheel on my mouse is also reversed now, and that I I’m having a harder time getting used to. The scrolling preferences are global across all devices, so you can’t have different settings for the trackpad and a mouse for instance.
The fact that the scroll bars now auto hide ala iOS is super nice too, saves a lot of space on the screen. The full-screen mode that most OSX apps have now is also REALLY nice in my opinion, I always loved the fact that Ableton Live could do this as it really makes you focus on the app you’re using. Super glad to have this natively in Logic now, without having to resort to preference hacks like in the past. It’s also really useful in Safari and Preview too.
When apps are in full-screen mode, you can 3 finger swipe on the track pad left or right to switch between apps, or get back to your desktop. Works well and makes sense, looks nice too. Slightly confusing for me was fact that you now 2 finger swipe left or right in Safari to go forward or backward in your history, and the animation looks really similar to the one that is used to switch between apps. Takes me a second to remember that I’m in the history, and not switching to a different app, just because the actions are so similar visually.
The new saved state in apps is ok, but I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. It’s weird not seeing the little x in the red close button reminding you to save, though your document title does have an “Edited” text next to it until you do. I’m not sure I really like how opening a closed app recalls the last document I worked on though. For instance, if I close Text Edit after jotting down some notes, when I relaunch it later it pulls up the notes I was working on instead of a new blank document. Ditto for things like Safari, it no longer opens with my homepage, it opens with the last website I was on when I closed it. Not a huge deal as it’s only a key command away from what I want anyway, but it’s kind of weird to get used to.
Mission Control and Launchpad are honestly really not my thing, both seem way to cluttered to be of any time savings. Mission Control is just a cluster fuck of information on the screen at once if you have a lot of apps open, and I really don’t think it’s organized that intuitively. I don’t use Spaces at all though, so perhaps those kinds of users will find it easier to navigate in. Likewise Launchpad is supposed to mimic a the home screen of an iOS device, but instead you get a ton of icons present across multiple pages. Worse, they’re in all sorts of random order too, so it’s not that easy to find what you need. You can rearrange them and create folders, but honest for me it’s easier to just spotlight search for an app if I need it and it’s not in my Dock.
On the music app side, so far things appear to be working ok. I had one hiccup where Omnisphere was not recalling the correct patch in a saved Live project. After closing and reopening the project though, it is now as it should be. Logic and my mastering set up (Wave Editor) appear to be working fine too, but I still haven’t run them for a really long time to be absolutely sure. I don’t have a ton of plug ins and instruments, but after trying them all last night everything seems to be working ok.
A real concern for me was reading that my version of Quickbooks (2009, which I use for my business accounting) was not going to be supported in Lion, and that I would need to pay $170 to upgrade to Quickbooks 2011. As anyone with their own business will tell you, the accounting software is the backbone of the business, so when it’s working fine you’re really loath to mess with updates. A little more digging and it looked like most of the issues with the 2009 version had to do with printing, which I never do, so I decided to chance it under Lion. So far it appears to be running fine, so hopefully I can hold out a little longer to update Quickbooks.
Overall it’s been a pretty painless update for me, and for now at least, I think I’m going to stick with Lion. Some aspects like full-screen mode I really enjoy, while things like Launchpad and Mission Control seem more like gimmicks to me. The one thing that really strikes me though, is that since so much of this is centered around new gestures for navigation and taking advantage of new functions, that if you’re still using a mouse, you’ll miss out on a lot of the new features. I know it’s definitely made me seriously think about using a Magic Trackpad instead of a mouse, even though I generally find the mouse more accurate. We’ll see I guess!
Anyway, that’s my thoughts for now, I’ll post updates in the comments if something changes or if I decide to revert back to SL. Feel free to ask any questions or post comments about your upgrade experiences too.
I also wanted to take a second to thank everyone for their kind words about the new Inner Portal Studio website and my services. I appreciate all the nice sentiments people sent my way about that.