I use both iPhoto and GarageBand on a near-daily basis. From the descriptions on Apple’s site, I could certainly see myself using several of the new features, especially the Flex Time functions in GarageBand. Unfortunately, they’ve kept the same horrible interface they introduced in iMovie ‘09. That, alone is reason enough for me to avoid it like the plague. As for the new “features,” to me, they seem very cookie-cutter; there doesn’t to seem to be half the flexibility a more advanced user may want. For those, Final Cut Express is probably a better choice.
I also hoped to see an update to iDVD, though, possibly with expanded HD support. While DVD players are giving way to Blu-ray, an actual optical disc is still the best bet for watching on a big screen – not everybody has an Internet-connected television or AppleTV, but most people at least have a DVD player. Right now, the best bet for sharing your HD movies for the non-connected is via Roxio Toast 10 Titanium.
OS X 10.7 Lion is another mixed bag. Command Central seems like a natural enough extension of Expose and Spaces – features that I use on a regular basis. The App Store is a bit of a mixed bag, as far as I’m concerned. I like that it will cover software updates in a simple way, but I’ll reserve judgement until I see the variety of applications available. I hope that Apple does not limit new apps to only those available to the App Store, like it has with iOS devices.
The same hesitation extends to the “full screen” applications. While it can be nice to have a “focused” view, it seems to work contrary to the multitasking required in many business settings. In a similar vein, I’d be interested to find out how it works in multiple-display setups. Over-all, I hope this feature is something that can be switched on and off, rather than be present all the time.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of “misses” in the proposed new OS, as well. First to mind is the apparent reliance on gestures to use some features. While both Apple’s Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse (as well as, of course, the trackpads on MacBooks and MacBook Pros) support these gestures, there are many—like myself—who prefer a wired mouse. This reliance on gestures seems to exclude these users, unless a multitouch wired mouse makes its appearance on the market.
Another miss, in my opinion is “Launchpad.” While this interface is great for iOS devices like the iPad and the iPhone, it seems out of place for OS X. The only justification I can think of for it would be a replacement for the “Simple Finder” in the OS, with the option to turn it off easily available.
As for new hardware, I’m not that enthused about the MacBook Air. Now, I’m the first to admit, I’ve never been a fan of the MacBook Air. It has always seemed underpowered for the price—the ultra-thin form factor does not offset the lack of upgradability and desktop space. It always seemed like an overpriced netbook, despite His Steveness’s claims to the contrary.
This latest iteration of the MacBook Air, with its smaller screen, seems even more netbook-like: small screen, no upgradability and lower power. Or, if you prefer, you could consider it just a notch above an iPad, functionality-wise; it could work as a second machine, but would not be very good as a primary computer. The only problem with that is the price point it’s at.
While I may not be the target market for the MacBook Air, it would seem to me that the better buy would be a low-end MacBook. For the same price as the base model 11” MacBook Air, you can get a larger screen, a built-in optical drive, a bigger hard drive, and upgradable RAM, if you desire. All you lose out on is the thinner form factor.
On the other end of the spectrum, for the same price as a maxed-out 13” MacBook Air, you can get that entry model MacBook and a 32GB iPad. You get all the upgradability in the MacBook, and you have the iPad for working on the go.
After the iOS-centric year we’ve had, it’s great to see Apple is still committed to the Mac platform, even though it seems that the two are slowly starting to merge. As for the new software and hardware announced, time will tell how they all turn out.