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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

OSX Lion, oh... and other Apple (un)impressions


Well, I’ve glanced over the headlines and read a bit about iLife ‘11, FaceTime for Mac, the new small(er) MacBook Air, and OSX Lion and as is often the case with Apple’s announcements, it’s kind of a big meh for me.

iLife ‘11

iLife ‘11 sounds like it might have some nice features in it—though, I can do with out big-brothery software recognizing faces in iMovie videos (I already have to tell iPhoto to stop scanning my photos for faces) and I can also do without a feature in Garageband that tells me if I’m off tempo (I have a wife for that). However, like an Engadget post on iLife noted, there’s an “effortless movie trailer maker” in iMovie that sounds somewhat intriguing.  However, if it makes trailers like Hollywood makes, they might have just called it “monkey makes a movie trailer software.”

But I digress.

Another nice touch for iMovie is the ability to output to 24fps. However, a SERIOUS flaw in iMovie—still no (apparent) support for AVCHD. Bastards.  What’s wrong with you, Apple?

In the end, I don’t think it’s worth the $50 to upgrade. I do think it’s lame that they’re not letting those of us who bought new Macs in the past 6 months get the upgrade for free, but, again, I digress.

FaceTime for Mac

FaceTime for Mac is basically useless if, like me, you don’t have any friends iPhone 4s whom you want to video-chat with.  Sure, I guess it might work with friends who have Macs, but who cares when you’ve got Skype, Gchat and Yahoo to video conf with your close comrades? Why even bother downloading the beta that’s available.

The new, don’t you dare call it a netbook, 11.6 inch MacBook Air

Well, for starters, it’s too expensive to call it a netbook, coming in at $1000.  Second, it’s specs are too advanced to call it a netbook.  Third, the screen is 1.6 inches too big, assuming the general cut off size for netbooks is 10 (or so) inches.  Hell, 11.6 inches makes the new small(er) MacBook Air just slightly smaller than my old 12-inch aluminum PowerBook from 2004.  Of course, the PB is way thicker than the MBA, but at least with my PB, I wasn’t worried about the thing snapping in two inside my bag.

The nutshell is: the new 11.6 inch MacBook Air is too big/expensive/fast to be/treat like a netbook (though only JUST too big) and too small to take full advantage of it’s performance specs.  In the end, it’s a big “no, thanks”—I’d sooner buy an iPad (not that I’d ever buy an iPad).

OSX Lion, oh… oh really? Is that what it’s going to be?  You’re Lion—I mean—lyin!

So, this was surprising.  I recently read some opinion piece on a tech site make the claim that Apple is at it’s most innovative right now.  Well, Lion proves who ever said that wrong.  Why? Because Apple is “taking what they’ve learned from iOS” and are updating OSX with new/old features from their underpowered, underfeatured iDevices.

That, to me, sounds like the exact opposite of innovation.  Though somebody over at Gizmodo had a bit of a o-face for OSX Lion, I personally don’t get it.  They’re making it look and behave more like iOS.  As in, full-screen apps, the screen splitting open to show you folder contents and more.  Windows will (apparently) still be around, but… um, I’m not honestly sure why full-screen apps is a big deal since apps on actual Macs can be full-screen if you or the software maker wants.  The Gizmodo post I link to above makes a HUGE deal out of this—they call it “modal computing.”  I’m not even entirely sure what the word “modal” means but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t represent a big change from how most of us work already. I’ve recently started organizing my tasks using Spaces (a feature available for years with 3rd party apps or built-in on Linux).  One Space for browsing, another for Final Cut and another for running Windows in Parallels.  Like that.  Apparently, we need a “whole new (fake) paradigm” and go “modal” or use ONLY “full screen apps.”  Whatever.

Plus the idea of “full screen apps” sounds an awful lot like what M$ Windows has done forever.  So I’m not seeing the whizbangedness here.

The other thing that makes Lion more like iOS is the “Launchpad”.  It’s basically like Dashboard only with all of your application icons.  What’s bizarre about this “new” feature is that it’s already available on current Macs.  It’s called: putting application shortcuts in a folder/directory you stick in your dock.

W.T.F. Steve?

Then folders will work like they do on iOS—aka stupidly for a full-powered machine.  For an under-powered device with a small display, the way they work makes perfect sense. But having a full screen split open so you can view what’s inside?  That just feels cumbersome and ugly to me.

Then there’s the new App Store for Mac—ooooo, something Linux has had for years, basically, is now coming to Mac with the same absurd restrictions and profit-sharing model as the App Store for iDevices.  It’s like Apple’s own protection racket.

“Hey, you wanna sell more stuff? You woik wit us—we take care of yooz. But we get a take. I mean, shur you could sell the app on your own website, but, whooz gonna see it there, huh kid?”

Forget that we already have sites like that are effectively web-based app stores already.  No, Apple wants their own walled garden (again).

OCD, Apple or what?

What’s surprising is that this is a serious retooling of how OSX’s user interface functions on a fairly core level.  It’s such a drastic change, I’m surprised they’re not going to ditch the “X” and just call this “OS11” since they’re releasing it next summer, anyway.

There’s more stuff in Lion that I found kind of unnerving (an always visible dock? WHY?) but I need to stop typing now.

Suffice it to say that this is the first time I’ve seen upcoming changes to an OS I (love to) use every day and thought to myself: “Uhm, yeah, I don’t need to upgrade to that.”

In fact, I’d even say that I’d hesitate to by another Mac if 10.7 came with it.  It just seems that nonsensical to go backwards like Apple is doing.

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