I like it. Mostly.
While it was initially a bit sluggish, it seems quite snappy now. I’ll keep monitoring.
First the cons:
Some legacy apps are now, compulsorily, retired. For me they were occasional use games; old favourites, but I’ll live without them. To Lion’s credit, it marks these apps very clearly with a watermark to indicate they won’t run. In the grand scheme, a minor loss.
Launchpad is awful. Truly awful. While it is clearly mimicking iOS, it has the same limitations (can only move one app at a time, and only by dragging); it is slow, awkward and, well, awful (I think you get the idea). At least on my iPhone I can rearrange things with a little less angst in iTunes, but no such relief with LaunchPad. This represents the only absolute fail in Lion, although I will concede it might be helpful for newbies who have only ever used an Apple iOS device.
It’s very monochrome. While this provides a consistent look, it comes at a cost. The dearest cost, to me, is in the sidebar of the finder. In Snow Leopard I had a few “favourite” folders there, each with a coloured custom icon. While Lion has kept the folders, their icons and colour have gone, and with them the visual cues that made them so easy to find. While Apple’s built-in folders have their own special icons, there doesn’t seem to be anyway to add similar icons to your own folders. This is a frustration I guess I’ll have to wear, but it does bug me.
Still in the finder’s sidebar, devices (such as external drives) have moved to the bottom. In small windows this requires scrolling to see them. I preferred having them always at the top and wish I could put them back.
iChat has taken a big step backwards. Apple seem to assume that we view all the message services the same and has collapsed them all into one window. I, for one, don’t view them the same and use the different chat services for different tasks (AIM/MobileMe for work & family, FaceBook for social, etc). But now that they are all in the same window, I found it very difficult to differentiate the different services from each other, and hence the contacts within (or rather, between) them. As I don’t use it heavily, it’s probably not a big loss, but it irritated me all afternoon.
A couple of issues with apps: My virus checker needed updating, but it’s own update app refused to acknowledge it was installed (and their website was terrible, but that’s not Lion’s fault). I think I’ve updated most of the apps I’m likely to use. I also had a bit of a scare with Scrivener - no data lost, but a few anxious minutes waiting for it to “rebuild” after a restart. I’m going to try and recreate it tomorrow before I post bug submission, as it could have been just bad luck associated with a system restart triggered by another app’s update.
You can’t access the Library folders anymore - at least not without knowing some “tricks”. Probably a good thing for the average user, but since some apps store user files in the Library, it was helpful to be able to get there easily. Some app developers may want to rethink their file storage plans.
I like the new scroll, especially using my touchpad. I’m still getting used to “pushing” the page instead of “pulling” the scrollbar, but it is more intuitive with touch and I am adapting quickly. A little harder to adjust with the mouse (more years of muscle memory too) but I don’t think it will take long.
Mission Control is great! Very easy to navigate between applications, windows, spaces and fullscreen apps all with a gesture. Very nice and very well done.
Fullscreen in supporting apps is nice. I like removing distractions and this does it nicely. It provides the benefits of spaces without the fuss. I really like the way Keith has implemented it with Scrivener (but that belongs in a different post).
iCal - I might be the only one, but I don’t mind the new look. I especially like the new year view and the revised day view with an agenda view of the dates ahead, full plan of the day and list of tasks. Nicely done.
Ease of installation. This was by far the easiest OS upgrade, and probably the fastest, I’ve done (and I’ve had every version of OS X since 10.1). Kudos to Apple for making it so simple even my dad could do it.
System preferences have been rearranged/renamed and, I think, make more sense.
I like the version of Safari, particular the new download icon. Nicely done. I’m not sure why people are making a big deal about swiping through Safari’s history - that has been a part of Safari (and other native Apple apps, including the Finder) for a while. The new animation that accompanies it is kind of cool though.
I really like the way that apps, and the entire system, will restart where you were. Installed an app in the background and it wants to restart? Just let it. When it’s done, all your windows will reopen where you were and you can continue as before.
Mail. Generally, I think it’s OK. As a heavy user of smart folders, it’s slightly less intuitive than the old style. But the one thing I truly miss is a message count. The only way I can tell how many messages are in the current view is to select them all. I never realised how important that information was until it was gone. But threading messages is good and it is very easy to set up new email accounts.
Address book looks very different. While I kind of like the visual address book metaphor, I was initially at a bit of a loss without the groups. Clicking on the red “book mark” displays the groups, which is helpful if not at all intuitive. I do miss the three column view, but will reserve judgement until I have tried it more.
Help seems unreliable. Sometimes it takes an age to load and then struggles to find anything relevant, while at other times it just launches and search is blisteringly fast. I can’t work out a pattern, so for the time being I’ll chalk it up to the transition. If it doesn’t improve within a couple of days I’ll move it up to the cons list.
Ditto for Spotlight.
Overall, despite my misgivings outlined above, the gains far outweigh the losses and Lion is a big step forward. I think Lion is definitely a positive upgrade and great value for the price.