Are you smart enough to use a Mac? From what I can see of OS X Lion, Apple is dumbing down OS X for the masses. Dumbing down? Yes. How else do you explain the intrusion of Launchpad into the Mac version of OS X? How else do you explain versions? And auto save? And Time Machine. Slowly but surely, Apple is making Mac OS X as easy to use as an iPad. In other words, it’s a slow dumbing down process to bring ease of use back to the Mac.
The Mac As Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
Your Mac is schizophrenic. Underneath, it’s all the complexity of Unix, which Apple hides more of in Lion. On the surface, it’s a nondescript collection of grayed out, colorless icons a little too reminiscent of Apple’s famous 1984 television commercial.
It’s a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde machine. Complicated underneath. And now, with OS X Lion, more protective, helpful, and eager to please on the surface.
Look at the iPhone or iPad. There’s no file structure. No complicated documents folder to manage. In places, Lion is more like iOS. When a Mac app auto saves a document that you don’t save first, where does it go?
Lion’s Auto-Save and Versions work together to keep track of what you do so you don’t have to. After a few decades of managing files in folders, I find that a little disconcerting on my Mac. Admittedly, it even bothers me on my iPhone. As much as I love my Mac, and trust OS X, I prefer to be in control of my own documents, thank you.
For now, only a few of Apple’s apps use Auto-Save and Versions; specifically, iWork’s apps, and TextEdit. Other apps are sure to follow as developers get on the Auto-Save and Versions bandwagon.
It’s easy to get taken in by all this modern simplicity. Create a document, then save it. You may never need to save it again because Lion keeps track of the version changes over time. Think of it as Time Machine for document versions. There’s no save after you’ve saved the document the first time. Menu choices in TextEdit, for example, change to Lock, Duplicate, Revert, or, the fun one, Browse All Versions.
You’ll need a few versions to try out that function, but it’s Apple eye candy at its best.
Launchpad, Bah Humbug
For Windows PC users looking at a Mac, Launchpad will look just like their iPhone and iPad screens. Apple is banking on that familiarity being a plus, and hoping it doesn’t scare long-time Mac users, while enticing more of the Windows masses to buy Macs.
I dunno. Auto-Save. Versions. Fisher-Price Launchpad. Lion is Apple’s Hollywood celebrity version of OS X. Glamor. Glitter. False fronts to hide the nitty gritty in the cellar. You have to work to find the user Library folder. Apple hid that, too.
How many ways can Mac users launch apps these days? Spotlight (you’d be surprised how many Mac users use it as a launcher). The Dock. The Applications folder. The Sidebar. Now the Launchpad. Do we need that many easy ways to launch apps?
Even the iPhone and iPad’s ridiculous folders, which hold multiple app icons, has been translated to the Mac for the masses to ooh and ahh over. Puhleeze. Those are not even folders. Call them what they are. Boxes. Apps in boxes.
Lion may be the most secure OS X ever. It may be the last of Apple’s OS cats (Lion, king of the jungle—what’s left?). But, on the surface, it’s a dumbed-down version of OS X, and maybe the last version of OS X ever. Ever. What’s next? How about iOS for Mac in 2012.