Lion: First Impressions

OS X Lion revealed at WWDCI took the plunge and installed Lion the day it became available. Normally, I do everything by the book and backup everything onto an external drive (usually cloning the whole drive, just in case) as well as important files onto DVD.

This time I took the totally rash (some may say reckless) course and just installed Lion without any backups. Now before you start commenting and telling me what a total idiot I am let me make one or two things clear. First, all my important work files are backup in Dropbox. Secondly, I have numerous DVDs full of my image files. Thirdly, well, thirdly I just trusted Apple. Yes I know that’s a bit rash but hey, they have had at least 18 months to get this thing right and all the pre-release comments from developers was that everything was going smoothly and no big problems had arisen.

So, how did it all go you are asking? Well, in simple terms it was totally problem free. Having purchased Lion in the App Store and clicked the ‘Install’ button I just left it for a few hours to do its stuff. As it happened, I had a meeting I needed to go to that evening so when I returned it was all done and dusted. One thing that did surprise me about the whole thing was that unlike previous upgrades there was no ‘Previous System’ folder. Everything was as before, except that instead of Snow Leopard I now had the Lion interface to get used too.

Also, apart from the whole thing being so trouble-free, it also took just a few hours rather than a whole day to do. No more copying files back into the new set-up etc. Just carry on as normal.

Also, the new scrolling didn’t bother me, I just adapted quickly to it and have decided to stick with it. Those bloggers who make a point of changing settings to go back to the old way of doing things, well my view is that they should live in the present and go with the flow. Its easy and after a while you don’t even notice.

Other positives are that everything seems a bit quicker though this could just be a subjective thing because of the novelty of having a new OS. Certainly, Finder seems quicker and once indexing had completed, searches in Spotlight seem to be much quicker.

So, all in all, first impressions are excellent. Apple deserves a big slap on the back for making the whole process so smooth and trouble-free. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the cost either. Just £21 for the right to install Lion on up to 5 authorised Macs is a steal. Well done Apple!


Latest MacBook Air makes it debut

MacBook Air

Today (Wednesday 20th July) saw Apple announce its new line-up of MacBook Air portable computers. Both the 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air now feature the latest generation of Intel processors, the Core i5 and i7. With speeds up to 1.8GHz and faster memory, the new MacBook Air gains up to 2.5x the processing performance over the previous generation.

The new MacBook Air also features the Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor, which includes an on-chip engine for video encoding and decoding. It also comes with the new Thunderbolt port, transferring data up to 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. You can also use it to connect the new Apple Thunderbolt Display.The new display (more of that later) offers over 4 million eye-popping pixels while coming with the following features:

  • Gigabit Ethernet,
  • FireWire 800,
  • an additional Thunderbolt port,
  • three USB ports,
  • a FaceTime HD camera,
  • 2.1 stereo sound and
  • a built-in microphone.

Instead of a traditional hard drive the MacBook Air is now all Flash memory storage (64GB, 128GB or 256GB), offering reliability, speed and efficiency, as well as up to 30 days on stand-by. It also comes with a full-size keyboard that is backlit, as well as a Multi-Touch Trackpad, making use of the new Multi-Touch gestures in Lion (also released today and available only on the App Store).

The display of the MacBook Air measures a mere 4.86 millimetres (0.19 inch) thin, yet the resolution is so high, you’ll feel like you’re looking at a much larger screen.  The 11-inch MacBook Air features a resolution equal to that of your typical 13-inch notebook, while the 13-inch MacBook Air wows with a resolution equivalent to a typical 15-inch notebook.

Supported resolutions:

11.6-inch (diagonal) model:

  • 1366×768 (native),
  • 1344×756 and 1280×720 pixels at 16:9 aspect ratio;
  • 1152×720 and 1024×640 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio;
  • 1024×768 and 800×600 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio

113.3-inch (diagonal) model:

  • 1440×900 (native),
  • 1280×800, 1152×720 and 1024×640 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio;
  • 1024×768, 800×600 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio

The new range is available now and ships with Lion OS X. UK pricing is as follows:

  • 11.6-inch model, 64GB Flash Storage – £849.00
  • 11.6-inch model, 128GB Flash Storage – £999.00
  • 13.3-inch model, 128GB Flash Storage – £1,099.00
  • 13.3-inch model, 256GB Flash Storage – £1,349.00

The UK Apple Store is quoting 24 hours free delivery.


Lion OS X available for mere $29.99 from App Store. Arrives July.

OS X Lion revealed at WWDCFinally, Lion OS X was unveiled after much fanfare and expectation at Apple’s WWDC on the 6th June. Perhaps the greatest surprise was the price and the fact that it will be available only though the App Store. The download will be 4GB and you won’t need to reboot! The price will be $29.99 (£20.99) and you will be able to install it all your Macs that are authorised on your Apple account. You will also be able to purchase the Server version for just $49.99 (UK price TBC), a huge reduction on the previous price of $999!

The next iteration of OS X comes with 250+ improvements (though most are minor tweaks). Here is the most important ones (as chosen by Apple):

OS X LIon's new featuresHighlights look to be Mission Control, Multi-Touch Gestures and Resume.

Mission Control:

Mission Control brings together full-screen apps, Dashboard, Exposé and Spaces in one new feature that gives you a bird’s-eye view of everything on your system. With a single swipe on the trackpad, your desktop zooms out to Mission Control. Think of it as the hub of your system: view everything and go anywhere with just a click.

Mission ControlApple has brought together the functionality of Exposé, Dashboard, Spaces and full-screen apps into one place. By using the trackpad or the Mission Control icon in the Dock, you can zoom your desktop and voila, the Mission Control GUI appears! nWith Mission Control, a row of thumbnails appears at the top of your screen. Icons represent Dashboard, desktop spaces and your full-screen apps. The lower part of the screen shows an Exposé view of the open windows on your desktop grouped by app. To get where you want to go, just swipe left or right. Or click a thumbnail. Simple!

You can create new ‘spaces’ easily by just dragging an app to the top row of icons on the screen or by clicking on the + icon in the top row. If you want to move windows to a new space then just drag it from the Exposé area to the icon at the top for that particular space.

Multi-Touch Gestures:

Multi-touch gestures allows you to tap, scroll, pinch and swipe to navigate around your Mac in an intuitive manner.

Multi-Touch Gestures

With Multi-Touch Gestures, when you scroll down on your trackpad or Magic Mouse, your document scrolls down. When you scroll up, your web page scrolls up. When you swipe left, your photos move left. In addition, Lion introduces new animations, making it all seem more fluid and enhancing the whole experience. In addition, in OS X Lion, the scroll bar appears only when you scroll. So it doesn’t get in the way of the content on the screen.


Apps resume when launched

When you launch an application, it appears exactly as you left it. All the open windows, palettes and panes — even the cursor position and highlighted text — come back just as they were.

System resume on restart

When you restart your computer, OS X Lion pauses your system so everything comes back just as you left it. All the apps that were running reopen, and windows appear exactly as they were, so you can begin working immediately.

Clean start

Lion lets you choose a clean start, so you return to a fresh desktop after you restart your Mac.

All in all, the next version of OS X looks like it will improve what is already the best user-experience beyond anything in Windows 7 or Linux. Also, the gradual alignment of features in OS X and iOS should help make the whole experience of switching between your Mac, iPhone and iPad all that much more smoother. This can only be a good thing and may actually help sell more Macs. Good news all round basically.

Lion Developer Preview available for download

OS X LionIf you are a registered Mac OS X developer, you can now hit Software Update for the latest update to Lion Developer Preview 2. The prerelease version of Mac OS X 10.7 works with XCode 4.1 Developer Preview 3.

Looking forward to Lion we can enjoy the prospect of full screen apps, refined Aqua look (popovers, overlay scrollbars and multi-touch gestures), as well as Auto Save and versions.

Related Articles

Oops there goes another hard drive… courtesy of Xcode!

Xcode 4Seems that there my be an issue with downloaded from the Mac App Store for some people. A thread on the Apple Discussion boards is growing as we speak that tells of some folks woes. Apparently, after installing Xcode for the Mac App Store their hard drives were wiped.

Here are a couple of posts:

“Last night, I bought the $4.99 Xcode app from the App Store. Once it was done downloading, I told it to go ahead and install, and… about halfway through it’s install I noticed my applications were deleting one by one. Frantically, I shut my system down with a hard shut down. Upon reboot, sure enough, the HD wouldn’t reboot. I reinstalled my system from a Time Machine backup, still wouldn’t boot, but I overcame the booting issue by reinstalling OSX over the restored drive.

Once I got everything back up and running, I thought to myself “surely, an App Store download of Xcode couldn’t cause such irradic behavior” so with a morbid curiosity (and knowledge that i can restore if need be) I gave it another shot… and sure enough: just like before, about halfway through the Xcode install, my apps and system library files started disappearing. Less panic’d I stayed around as long as I could before doing the hard shut down. Leaving Safari open saw it slowly loose necessary files to run (fonts, images, etc) not that the app itself was around anything anymore anyway. Truly odd behavior, and it’ll keep me from installing Xcode unless there’s a real solution to the problem out there. So I put it to you, Apple faithful and forum moderators… thoughts?” ncsmith4

“No joke this EXACT SAME THING happened to me too!” ncsmith4

At the moment, Apple has not released a fix, so before you install Xcode (or any app for that matter) to be on the safe side you should follow these safety rules:

Update the system. Run Software Update to ensure you have the latest system software and patches on your system.

Run a general maintenance routine. Follow the instructions in this article to clear your system of old temporary files.

Check for hardware problems. Boot to the OS X installation DVD and run a volume verification or fix using Disk Utility. If you have a third-party disk management tool then you can also use this.

Install in Safe Mode. You do not need to run the Xcode installer immediately after downloading it. Instead, boot your system into Safe Mode to disable all but the essential system software components, and install Xcode from there.

Install the package directly. As we mentioned above, when dealing with hanging installations, you might try avoiding the installation application itself and opening the “code and iOS SDK.mpkg” file directly, which will help by avoiding any bugs that may be in the installation wrapper application.

Read more:



Flare logoFlare for Mac from Iconfactory is available from the Mac App Store for £5.99 and there is a 15-day free trial. It’s a photo-editor that comes with lots of features and built-in effects. Features available include:

Colour effects:

  • Exposure
  • Midtone brightness
  • Saturation, Brightness, Contrast
  • Tint
  • Duotone
  • Color filter
  • Color gradient
  • Black & white
  • Cross-processing
Flare effects

Editing an effect in Flare


Lens effects:

  • Gaussian blur
  • Motion blur
  • Zoom blur
  • Sharpen
  • Glow
  • Vignette

Creative effects:

  • Grain
  • Texture
  • Lightleak
  • Frame
  • Border
  • Rounded edges
  • Barrel distortion
  • Rotation
  • Scaling
  • Halftone
  • Pixellate
  • Scanlines

I have been using the trial for a few days now and on the whole the software has a lt going for it.

Negatives so far:

  1. Slow – I am using a MacBook Pro 2.26 GHz with 4GB 1067 DDR3 RAM so I expected it to be quicker when applying effects (using clear all effects option)
  2. Screen refresh – I don’t like how the whole screen refreshes when you switch between the different modes
  3. Also, the undo doesn’t seem to work (for presets) and its only accessible from the menu rather than an on-screen button (like in edit mode using
  4. No levels editing or curves


  1. Simple interface – even novices shouldn’t get lost!
  2. Nice set of presets with extra ones downloadable from the vendor’s site
  3. Ability to layer effects
  4. Snapshots feature – save at any point to create a snapshot that can be (re)applied later to the same or other images
  5. Ability to export to Flickr, your Mac or in an email
  6. Availability of textures which can be edited

Snapshots feature in Flare

So on the whole its an interesting piece of software and if you don’t have a basic photo-editor then I can recommend it. Hopefully the developers will sort out the minor bugs and improve the interface in those areas where its lacking somewhat.

Visit for more info.


XCode 4 available for free to developers ($4.99 everyone else)

Xcode 4Apple has made the latest version of its integrated development environment available for free to developers. Everyone else can download it from the Mac App Store for $4.99 (£2.99).

Xcode provides everything a you need to to create great Mac OS X and iOS apps. The latest version is Xcode 4 and presents a unified user interface design, for all your coding, testing, and debugging within a single window. The Xcode IDE analyzes the details of your project to identify mistakes in both syntax and logic, it can even help fix your code for you.


Innovative tools to help you create great apps

– Interface Builder is fully integrated as a design canvas within the Xcode IDE
– The Assistant shows files related to what you’re editing, such as the header, superclass, or controller
– The Version editor shows a live source code comparison through Git or Subversion history
– Live Issues display errors as you type, and Fix-it can correct the mistakes for you
– Apple LLVM compiler now includes full support for C++, in addition to C and Objective-C
– The new LLDB debugging engine is faster and more memory-efficient than GDB
– Instruments adds System Trace and new iOS instruments including OpenGL ES

Streamlined interface that is faster and easier to use

– Design your interface side by side with the backing source code
– Create connections from your GUI design directly to the related source code
– Use tabs to organize your workspace, or double-click to open files in a new window
– Schemes let you customize exactly how your app will build, run, profile, and deploy
– Debugging and console views slide in without disturbing your place in the editor

Professional editor keeps you focused on your code

– Click the Jump Bar at the top of the editor to instantly go to another file
– View message bubbles to see errors, warnings, and other issues right beside the code
– Use the ribbon on the left of the editor to fold your code, or highlight scope

Embedded Apple LLVM technology finds and fixes bugs for you

– Analyzer travels countless code paths looking for logical errors before they become bugs
– Live Issues underlines coding mistakes as you type with no need to build first
– Fix-it can confidently correct mistakes for you with just a keystroke
– Code completion for C, C++, and Objective-C is incredibly fast and accurate

Instruments for visual performance analysis

– Compare CPU, disk, memory, and OpenGL performance as graphical tracks over time
– Identify performance bottlenecks then dive deep into the code to uncover the cause
– Monitor your app directly, or sample the entire system, with very little overhead

To test or deploy applications on an iOS device you must be a member of Apple’s iOS Developer Program. To submit your Mac or iOS apps to the App Store you must be a member of the Mac or iOS Developer Program. Some features may require Internet access.