Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is now available for purchase at the Mac App Store, and I'll be shocked if most Mac users haven't upgraded by year's end, if not month's end. I've been beta testing it for four months, detailing its many compelling enhancements while writing the "Mac OS X Lion Bible," but I must admit Mac OS X Lion has some blemishes on its slick skin.
Here are my six main disappointments with Lion; I hope future updates will address at least a few.
Lion letdown 1: The new contextual scroll bars
If you use a gesture-savvy input device -- the touchpad in a newer MacBook, the Apple Magic Mouse, or the Apple Magic Trackpad -- the scroll bars in your windows disappear by default. The scroll bars appear only when Mac OS X Lion detects you are trying to move through contents, though if you use "old-fashioned" input devices such as mice, including when a MacBook's lid is closed, the scroll bars' display stays on.
Because of this approach, it's not always obvious when there's more content in a pane or window to scroll to. The only way to know for sure is to scroll using a mouse or gesture to see if anything happens. Dropping the visual clue that there is more to scroll to is a clear mistake for Lion -- and a surprising one for a UI-savvy company like Apple. Fortunately, you can turn off this auto-hide for gesture-savvy devices in the General system preference.
Lion letdown 2: The Launchpad
Taking aspects of the iPad and iPhone into Mac OS X makes a lot of sense, just as iOS took so much from Mac OS X -- they both share the core code, after all. The new Mail user interface is a nice adaptation from the iPad's Mail app, for example, and I've come to enjoy the many new gestures brought to Mac OS X (I feel their loss when I use a Mac without a Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad).
But the Launchpad app -- essentially, a simulacrum of the iOS home screens for application access -- is frankly a needless pander to iOS. It may sound great to have all your apps in a grid on your screen, but it's not. On a computer screen, the grid is overwhelmingly large, and the order in which apps appears is essentially random. Sure, you can create folders and rearrange them, but it's a lot of work to do something that the Dock and the Finder windows for your Applications folder and Utilities folder handle much better.
Lion letdown 3: Internal document versions
The new Versions capability in Lion is really useful and cool. For apps that enable it, such as TextEdit and Preview -- and no doubt soon, the iWork suite -- everytime you save the file, a delta file of the changes are saved within the document. You can then use a Time Machine-style interface (that's the cool part) to revert to any previous version or even take elements from an earlier iteration and copy them into the current copy.