Full screen applications are one of the main selling points of Mac OS X Lion. That’s right, the full screen revolution has finally arrived! Wait.. what? Haven’t we been able to maximise windows since the 90’s? How is this any different to that?
Although Windows users may disagree here, full screen applications aren’t merely maximised like they would be in Windows or Linux. Oh no, you see when an application enters full screen mode, it gets rid of any distractions that you may still have with an application which is maximised. The dock hides itself beneath your screen, the menu bar disappears until you hover over the top of the screen, and all you’re left with is your application.
Full screen apps have been around on smartphones and tablets for a few years now, and are meant to maximise the screen estate of your device. Of course, on smartphones that screen estate tends to be around 4 inches, and on tablets you have 10 inches. What happens, though, when you have 15, 21.5 or even 27 inches to play with? Are full screen apps still worth the trouble?
A lot of Apple’s applications ship with full screen support on Lion. Safari, Mail, iTunes, even iCal all have the ability to go in to full screen. On an 11-inch MacBook Air, this functionality is great as screen estate is limited. If you can’t see all of a webpage you can put Safari in full screen to get a better view. If you want to see more of your iTunes library you can.
Full screen apps are good for more than just seeing things though. I find myself using full screen a lot even on a 21.5-inch iMac with a 1080p resolution. I don’t do it to see more – there’s clearly no need for that – I do it so that I can concentrate better.
When an app is made full screen, it takes its own desktop in Mission Control so that you can easily go between your applications without having to navigate the clutter of some full screen and some windowed applications. You can use a gesture on your trackpad to go from one to the next or head in to Mission Control and simply select the application you want to use.
As more third party developers take advantage of full screen mode in Lion, it will be interesting to see the direction in which they go. This is still Mac OS X of course, but there’s no doubt that some iOS inspired full screen interfaces will begin to pop up. For some applications such as Things, I can see this change working really well. For others, it might be a slightly bumpier ride.
Are you on Lion and using full screen applications, or would you rather keep things more traditional with a windowed approach? Let us know in the comments!