I’ve now upgraded a few machines to Lion, and I’m pretty ridiculously happy with it overall (the main exception being the removal of Front Row, which I used all the time on my media center Mac Mini, which has caused me to downgrade that machine back to Snow Leopard).
Some random thoughts in no particular order:
- My own personal feelings on the matter of natural scrolling are that I don’t really care. On a trackpad, I seem to be able to switch back and forth without much hassle (and before this, I was never really sure which way things were going to move when scrolling anyway). On my trackball, which has a scroll wheel, I didn’t see any point in changing the direction, so that just works like it always did. I still prefer my trackball for most work, though it’s nice to sit back and read pages sitting back and lazily scrolling with the trackpad. Some of the gestures are useful. I love that there’s a gesture navigation for switching months in iCal now. That always frustrated me. I also like the two-finger double tap to zoom.
- FileVault has been completely overhauled, and there’s now no more excuse for not using it on a laptop. I haven’t noticed any performance drop from that, so I’m happy with it.
- It is fantastic that Time Machine continues to take offline snapshots on a laptop when your backup drive is disconnected and then merges them when it’s reconnected.
- On a single screen (my laptop), Mission Control and full screen apps are great. I finally find this mostly intuitive to use. On a multi-monitor setup, fullscreen apps are a disaster, and I don’t see much reason to use spaces. Your mileage may vary.
- There is a significant and noticeable performance boost, roughly equivalent to the shift from Leopard to Snow Leopard. I suspect that many of the underlying system components got a lot more multi-core love this time around - the improvement on my 8-core Mac Pro is much larger than on my dual core laptop. Window redrawing and UI responsiveness is viscerally improved.
- Most things worked just fine after the upgrade, though I did have to reinstall Xcode and macports, and recompile some native gems for ruby. Python is still a pain, but I don’t see how that’s any different from before.
- I LOVE LOVE LOVE autosave and application resume, to the point where I’m baffled that people are complaining about this. On Snow Leopard, I’d often hold off rebooting for days, because I was in a working pattern and I didn’t want to disrupt all of the things I had open. On Lion, this issue seems to have mostly gone away. I did a cold restart test - i.e.: shut down the machine without first quitting all of my apps manually - and almost everything came back just the way I left it, including most of my Terminal windows. This is huge. It’s now possible to edit successive iterations of a draft in email, and it saves them as you go. When you close the window, it just updates the draft instead of prompting you to save a draft each time. I’ve always hated being prompted if I want to save my changes, and good riddance to that. I particularly like that this protection extends even to unsaved documents, which are also reopened the next time.
- It’s nice to have a built-in maintenance/recovery partition. I’d always set this up manually anyway, and the included one is smaller (500MB vs. several gigs).
- I really like that you can now go from quicklook to opening the file you’re previewing in either the default application (with a click) or any other application (with a hold-click). It’s little things like this that really make the difference. I’ll use this all the time.
- I find the autocorrect relatively unobtrusive.