WWDC 2011 Keynote: Mac OS X Lion

If you don’t like Apple products, you might as well skip over my next few posts. I’ll get back to more interesting things after a while, but for now I’m going to cover some of my thoughts on the announcements from Apple’s keynote for WWDC 2011.

First on the list is Mac OS X Lion (or 10.7, I’m not sure if they’re going to get away from numbering their OS from this point forward). Where 10.6 (Snow Leopard) was a great upgrade from the standpoint that it didn’t change much in the UI but tightened everything up and cleaned up a lot of legacy code (adios PowerPC), Lion is bringing a lot of new stuff to the table. You can find more information at http://apple.com/macosx. I’m going to cover just a couple of things that stood out to me.

Auto Save and Versions

This is a long time in coming, and it should have been something added a long time ago. Auto Save does what it says it does, it automatically saves your work for you without you having to think about it. I’m hoping that this will just become something that will become normal across all platforms because losing your work sucks, and this should make it suck just a little bit less.

Combined with Versions, it becomes quite cool. You can look back at your changes and bring stuff back if you need it on a per-document basis while working. That’s pretty cool. While there are a lot of specifics that are not known yet (how much disk space will this take up, what amount of work will it take on the part of developers to get this as well, can developers tie into this system), the idea as presented basically fixes many issues that people have about forgetting to save their work.

That’s a huge deal!

The idea that if one of my parents starts a document and it will continuously be saved while they are working so that I don’t have to go through the Microsoft Office recovery file rigamarole is very pleasing to my ears. I’m hoping it is as good as it sounds.

Mail

I currently use the Gmail web interface for my email, but the new Mail app looks pretty good. A better conversation view was definitely needed, and it has been provided. The search feature looks much improved, the interface looks nice and clean and there are probably other things I am missing. Will it be able to topple Gmail’s web interface? I don’t know, but I’ll give it a try.

One person on Twitter was asking for Apple to add in labels (Gmail labels I am expecting), but that seems odd to me. I like labels, but that is most obvious way Google has embraced email and then extended it beyond the standard, and by doing so, has caused people to be locked into Gmail’s interface and their service.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Gmail, but sometimes I wish that Google would have instead focused on keeping the basics of Gmail more in line with the RFCs, but that is neither here nor there.

I’ll give the new Mail.app a try and see what I think.

UPDATE: So it seems that there are going to be labels in the new Mail app. I’m not sure if it is a 1:1 correlation to Google’s implementation, but it is another thing for me to try out.

Lion Server

$50 from the Mac App Store when it is all said and done. I’m wondering if there is a client limit on that, but I’m excited about the prospects of a $79 server edition of Mac OS X that will allow small businesses you see what can be offered.

Granted, you need to have a Mac to take advantage of a lot of this stuff, but I am now going to be actively looking for a Mac Mini to put this on in the near future so that I can play around with the idea of hosting some of my own stuff on Mac OS X.

I do wish that they would bring back some rackmount hardware.

Overall Impressions

Lion looks like another huge leap for OS X, which is always exciting. Any inkling that the Mac is dead can be quickly tossed aside when you look at the amount of effort that has gone into Lion. It is refreshing to see so much focus on fixing problems that have been plaguing people on computers for a long time.

There are a ton of other changes, but I will leave you to look at them.

Lion, at $29, is proof that Apple is a hardware company, and that their software strategy is to help them sell more hardware to people by making their products that more compelling. Will it work for everyone? No, of course not. However, Lion is shaping up to be another great release of the OS.

The main question I have is how we are going to be able to recover from complete hard drive failures in the future. As Lion is being distributed through the Mac App Store (I guess exclusively), will we be able to burn recovery media? How will I be able to wipe my drive clean and get Lion onto it? That’s the most important worry I have at the moment.

Next up will be iOS 5.

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