A little while ago, we took a look at Apple’s latest version of Mac OS X, Lion in a screenshot tour preview following its initial announcement. Well, Lion has now been released on the Mac App Store where you can buy it for £25. For most people, this is a really convenient way to buy an operating system, providing you have a fast enough internet connection, as it saves you a trip to the Apple store to buy the boxed version, which can sometimes be a pain if there isn’t one near and you have to wait for it to arrive at your home.
So Mac OS X Lion’s finally here! Better late than never, right? I know you’re all dying to get straight in and check out all of the great features it has to offer, but you’re bound to miss some along the way, so that’s why we’ve created “Lion in the Spotlight”.
In this article, there is a whole host of new and updated features to take a look at, all about of the best new features that Apple’s latest version of Mac OS X has to offer.
Preparing Your Apple Mac For Mac OS X Lion
You’ve waited for months and months, seen leaks and teasers from official developers already using it, and spent hours gazing at its product page, but Lion is finally here and ready for you to install. You’re most definitely ready for it, but is your Mac? Here are a few things that you may want to make sure you’ve got before you get too excited about installing that brand new OS of yours…
1. Snow Leopard
Yes, it’s stupid, and no, it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. You can’t do a fresh install of Lion straight off the bat until you download it from the App Store first, and of course the App Store is only available to Macs which are running Snow Leopard, so to use Lion you will first have to install Snow Leopard to update it to install the Mac App Store to download Lion and THEN update it to the latest operating system. Are you as lost as I am? Good.
Fortunately, both Snow Leopard and Lion are both well priced. You can pick up a copy of Snow Leopard for £25, and Lion will set you back just over £20. Not bad for a brand new OS, but the installation is truly ridiculous if you aren’t already a Snow Leopard user.
2. A Core 2 Duo or higher CPU
You could install Snow Leopard on any Intel-based Mac computer, but this latest cat is only going to be playing friendly with machines which are equipped with Intel Core 2 Duo or later processors. If you were one of the early Intel adopters stuck with a Core Solo processor, then it may be time to upgrade, or at least say goodbye to Lion for now.
Although many people may not like Apple requiring a dual-core processor for Lion, I’m behind moves such as these as it means that the software can be developed without holding back features in considerations for lower specced machines. It also means that the software will run as intended. I would rather have Snow Leopard run fast than have Lion run slowly, so it’s good having the cut-off point.
3. At least 2GB RAM
Did you know that you could install Snow Leopard with just 1GB of RAM? Considering how cheap you can pick up RAM now, there are no excuses for having at least 4GB in most machines, especially since it’s so easy to install extra memory in Apple’s laptops. To be able to install Lion, you need to make sure you have at least 2GB installed, which most people should have covered, especially if they have a machine with a Core 2 Duo processor.
4. Say goodbye to PowerPC
Before you upgrade to Lion, check that you aren’t running any PowerPC applications on your machine, because they won’t work on Lion at all. Snow Leopard was the last operating system to support Rosetta, Apple’s PPC emulation software, and any older programs that you may still have lying around won’t thank you for upgrading too quickly. If you do have some PowerPC applications that you need to run, but want to upgrade to Lion, then consider dual booting your Mac and keeping a Snow Leopard partition handy.
I think that covers just about everything you need to know before upgrading to Lion, although it won’t hurt to do a little spring cleaning before you upgrade, either.
How To Perform A Clean Install Of Mac OS X Lion From A USB Flash Drive
For power users though, being restricted to an application for an OS install is somewhat restricting, as it means that you can’t install it on to a new hard drive without first installing Snow Leopard. Don’t you think that’s a bit… backwards? I did, so instead of upgrading, I chose to find a way to install it without the need for any application file. Care to know how it’s done? Let’s check it out!
What you’ll need:
- A Mac OS X computer
- Mac OS X Lion from the App Store
- A USB flash drive, at least 8GB
Preparing the flash drive…
To install Mac OS X from a flash drive, you’re first going to have to format the drive and restore it with the installation image from the .app file.
If the drive isn’t already formatted, then you can do this with Disk Utility in Mac OS X. Simply insert the flash drive, and select it in the left-hand column of the window. With the correct drive selected (you don’t want to erase data on the wrong drive, so double check!), navigate to the “Erase” tab in the main window and format the drive as a “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” partition.
Next, you need to restore the image from the Mac OS X Install image you downloaded from the App Store on to the flash drive. You can’t simply restore the entire .app file to the drive as it would not be bootable, so instead you need to find a .dmg image inside the file called “installESD.dmg”. You can do this by right-clicking on the app and selecting “Show package contents” and then running a spotlight search within this folder.
To restore this image, go back to disk utility, and select this .dmg file as the source field. For the destination, drag in the correct USB flash drive partition you just created and let Disk Utility work its magic.
Once you have your flash drive ready, you have a bootable copy of Mac OS X Lion! To boot into the image, insert the drive into your Mac and boot up the machine whilst holding down the option (alt) key. In addition to your existing partition, you will be able to see the image you just created. Select it from the menu to boot from it.
After booting, you will have four options in a menu. If you want to do a clean install of Lion, you can format your drive using Disk Utility before installing. Otherwise, select ‘Reinstall Mac OS X’ and follow the prompts.
Using this method, I was able to install Lion on a blank hard drive without having a previous Snow Leopard installation present on my MacBook, but my Sandy Bridge iMac wouldn’t allow me to install onto a blank hard drive, so although this may not be a 100% solution, there’s a good chance that it could work on your system. Even if you don’t want to install Lion from scratch, you can still use the image as a restore disk anyway.
How To Use ‘Launchpad’
Many of the improvements that have come in the latest version of Mac OS X will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has used iOS in the past, particularly on an iPad. Launchpad is one such feature, and it comes straight from the home screen of every iOS device since first generation iPod Touch.
Launchpad is, put simply, a wall of application shortcuts, but it does a little bit more than just show you a collage of everything you have installed on your machine…
To access Launchpad, you can either click on the logo on your dock or make a four finger ‘pinch’ gesture by making a claw with your hand and dragging your fingers in from the edge of your trackpad. The Magic Trackpad is an ideal size for this gesture, but after using it I felt that my MacBook trackpad was a little small. Strange, two years ago I thought it was the biggest trackpad in the world…
When you invoke Launchpad, the grid of icons fade on to screen and your current windows fade out. Your desktop background is blurred to help you see the icons and text underneath them better, and you simply select the application which you wish to launch. To switch between pages of applications, you just have to take two fingers on your trackpad and scroll in the direction where you want to go. It’s worth noting, too, that folders in Launchpad are identical to folders in iOS; they just slide out.
Also, you don’t have immediate access to some applications such as Quicksilver whilst you’re in full-screen mode, so in many cases, it’s quicker to simply dive into Launchpad with a gesture than it is to exit full screen and then use a shortcut application.
What if you’re in full screen and you want to access the dock? Your immediate instinct tells you to drag the cursor to the bottom of the screen and the dock will appear, but not in full screen. So, is it quicker to jump into Launchpad and see the dock, or leave fullscreen to see the dock and then re-enter full screen? Using Launchpad results in one less action, so it’s a more efficient way.
Finally, when you’re installing or updating applications from the App Store, you can see their progress in the Launchpad icon on the dock. You don’t have to open Launchpad itself to see how your download is going, just glance at the icon and it will tell you. It’s really simple, and although it takes a little adjusting to, you’ll definitely get used to it if you persevere.
How To Use ‘Mission Control’
One of the best features introduced with Mac OS X Leopard in 2007 was Spaces, which joined Expose to make window management on the Mac an absolute dream. You could arrange all of your windows in separate spaces to keep different activities located on different desktops and use Expose to view all open windows at the tap of a button.
In Lion, these two features have been merged together under one program: Mission Control. Yes, the name’s somewhat gimmicky, but we don’t have the space shuttle anymore so we need something to nerd out about, right?
Mission Control allows you to easily move windows between spaces, manage full-screen applications and add new spaces on the fly whenever you need them. This is one thing that you could never do in Leopard or Snow Leopard without hitting System Preferences, and it makes a pretty big difference.
You can enter Mission Control by swiping up on your trackpad with four fingers, hitting the Expose key on your Mac keyboard, or keeping the icon handy on your dock for quick access. When it opens, you will still be able to see all of the windows currently in your space in detail. However, you will not be able to move windows from other spaces to your space without first zooming in on the space you wish to move them from, meaning you’d need one extra click compared to what you’d need in Snow Leopard.
If you’re a Spaces power user, then you’ll hate the default space ordering feature, which automatically re-arranges your desktops for you when you click on an app. Say, for example, you’re in desktop 1, and you click an app on the dock which is in desktop 4. That application from the fourth desktop will re-arrange itself and place next to the first one.
I personally hate this “feature”, but you can change it fairly easily by going into System Preferences > Mission Control and unchecking the “Automatically rearrange spaces” option.
The best feature in Mission Control, for me, has got to be on-the-fly adding and removing of spaces. It makes life so much easier when managing windows, and you can even drag an app into the new space zone at the right side of the screen in Mission Control to have it pop up in a desktop of its own. Overall, the program is a nice change from the previous look of Spaces, and it adds some pretty great functionality too.
How To Use ‘Full-Screen Applications’
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 as 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 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 into 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. 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 into 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!
How To Use Signature Capture In ‘Preview’
If you’re creating a document to send to a lot of recipients, signing it can be a huge hassle. You could scan in a piece of paper with your signature written on it but that never works too well, leaving you with the option of signing each copy of the letter or signing one copy and then making a photocopy from the original.
Here’s a better idea: why don’t you take advantage of that FaceTime HD call camera (aka a webcam) sitting comfortably at the top of that new Mac of yours? You can now use Preview in Lion to ‘scan’ in your signature from a piece of paper just by holding it over your webcam, and it works pretty well!
When you’re editing a PDF document in the Preview application, click on the button with the small pen and a line underneath of it to open the annotations toolbar in the window. From this toolbar, there is another button with an ‘S’ which has a line just underneath it. when you click on this button you are provided with a small drop down menu which gives you two choices: ‘Create Signature From FaceTime HD Camera’ or ‘Manage Signatures’.
If this is the first time that you are capturing a signature in Lion, then you’ll want to select the create signature option, as you won’t have any existing signatures to manage. When you do so, the signature capture window will appear, showing your FaceTime camera monitoring what’s going on, and a preview of your signature.
You can capture as many signatures as you’d like, and they’ll all go into your signature list in Preview. Also, there’s no need to capture a signature more than once if it looks ok, as it will be saved in the application and available to you every time you want to open it.
Unfortunately, this feature is only available in Preview right now, so you can’t take your signature and put it straight into a Pages or Word document, but it’s still really useful to have when you’ve exported a letter or other document to PDF and wish to sign it. It could also come in handy if you’re submitting a PDF form and want to save yourself from having to print it off to sign it.
Whatever you end up using signature capture for, it’s a pretty great feature, so get Lion, open Preview and check it out!
How To Use ‘Gestures’
Gestures are a big part of Mac OS X Lion. In fact, they’re such a big part that you’re really missing out on a lot of features unless you have a Magic Trackpad for your desktop or a multitouch trackpad on your laptop.
With the introduction of the multitouch trackpad in Apple’s notebooks, more complex gestures were introduced with Leopard in 2007, but there are a whole host of new ones in Lion, so let’s check them out so that you’re well versed in using them!
Point & Click
There are four so-called ‘point and click’ gestures in Lion, two of which are new to the operating system. You have your standard tap to click gesture, which is simply tapping on the trackpad with one finger, and you also have the secondary click, which is activated through tapping on the trackpad with two fingers.
One new gesture that has made its way into the king of the jungle is ‘Look up’. If you’re looking at a website or reading something and come across a word that you don’t understand, then you can tap on it with three fingers to get a pop-up definition. A three finger drag has also been added, which allows you to move windows by – you guessed it – dragging with three fingers on the trackpad.
Scroll & Zoom
This is a biggie. In Lion, the scrolling direction has been reversed, and is now ‘natural’, like on iOS where the content follows your finger. I’d recommend giving this a chance, as I got used to it on my trackpad after a few days, but it can be really confusing on a mouse. To turn it off, uncheck ‘Scroll direction: natural’ in your System Preferences.
The pinch and zoom gesture has made its way from previous versions of Mac OS X, but there’s another new zoom feature which has come straight from iOS. If you double tap with two fingers, the content on your page will smartly re-arrange itself and zoom into the content in the area where you tap. This is like double tapping with a single finger in iOS and is a great gesture to have handy. Finally, you can rotate with two fingers, like in previous versions of Mac OS X and iOS. Just take two fingers and swipe them around to change the orientation of a picture.
All of the gestures here are new to Lion and come in really handy when managing content and spaces. If you’re using Preview in full screen, it will place two portrait pages next to each other so it feels like you’re reading a magazine. To flick from one page to another, you can simply take two fingers and drag the page out of the way to reveal the next two.
If you have multiple desktops and full-screen apps active, then you will want to get from one to the other without Mission Control. To do this, take three fingers and swipe left or right. I’ve changed this to a four finger gesture in System Preferences as it feels more natural, but either can be used if you select which one you want.
To enter Mission Control, by default you can take three fingers and swipe upwards on the trackpad. For App Expose, swipe down with three fingers. Again, this can be changed to a four finger gesture depending on your preference.
The last two gestures and pinch and spread gestures. If you want to open Launchpad from your trackpad, you can simply take your thumb and three fingers and pinch inwards. To exit Launchpad, do the same gesture in reverse, spreading your fingers and thumb instead of pinching. If you’re already on the desktop, this will send all active windows to the edge of the screen so you can see your desktop.
Think you can remember all of those gestures? Go try them out and make them your own in System Preferences!
How To Use ‘AirDrop’
Living in the supposedly wireless age that we do, you would think that it would be easy to do something as simple as transfer a file from one device to another without the need for a cable tethering the two together.
You’ve been able to share files wirelessly over a network for some time now, but only if you had access to the computer which you wanted to send those files to. That, and you need to be on the same wireless network as the computer you’re sharing with. Bag of hurt anyone? Just grab a pen drive and let us do this the old fashioned way.
This issue is even more poignant with the surge in popularity of mobile devices. Want to send a file to your iPhone? Outside of using iTunes and a USB cable (this, admittedly, will be changing with the release of iOS 5 in the autumn) your best bet is a third party app such as Dropbox.
I know, I know, you’re screaming “there has to be a better way to do this” at the screen right now as you’re reading this. Either that or “I wish this guy would hurry up and make his point”. Don’t worry, I’m getting to it…
Fortunately, there is a new feature in Lion that makes it really, really easy to send files to another machine running Lion straight from the Finder. ‘AirDrop’ doesn’t require you to be on a wireless network, it simply creates a personal area network (PAN) between a number of computers near each other.
For security reasons, every transfer has to be authorised by the recipient, so a file can’t just be pushed on to someone’s computer without their knowledge. Also, for a computer to be shown in the AirDrop window, both machines must be running AirDrop at the same time. Your computer will be invisible until you go on AirDrop yourself.
Transfer speeds are really fast, and transferring smaller files such as documents happens instantaneously. As no passwords are required, the whole affair couldn’t get much simpler.
Unfortunately, the feature is limited to Macs that have the ability to create a PAN – most Lion capable machines will be able to handle it no problem, but if your computer is getting on a little bit then you might want to check it can create a PAN before complaining about AirDrop bugs – but it’s definitely a feature worth talking about.
Right now, AirDrop is limited to Mac – Mac transfers, but I would not be surprised to see this capability extended to iOS devices soon enough to make file transfers on the iPhone and iPad truly wireless out of the box. If you have two or more machines that are running Lion, then you should definitely give AirDrop a try. Even better, use it out in the wild and transfer files with other people running Lion to see how well it works on your machine!
How To Use ‘FileVault’
Government authorities and workers, please take note (I’m looking at you, tax people!): encryption protects your data so that there isn’t a national outcry every time one of your idiotic employees loses a bloody laptop or pen drive on the train. It exists to protect sensitive information, so USE IT!
With Lion, there’s no excuse not to enable FileVault. Not only is it more compatible with other features of Mac OS X now, such as Time Machine, it also protects the entire Mac OS X partition, not just your home folder.
It lives in the same place as it always has. To enable FileVault, simply go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault and click the button to turn it on. You’ll be given a recovery key in case you forget your password – make a note of it – and then it will begin to encrypt all of your data with XTS-AES 128-bit encryption.
One key improvement to FileVault in Lion is the way that your files are encrypted. In previous versions of Mac OS X, there were a number of incompatibilities with Apple’s backup solution, Time Machine. As data is now no longer encrypted at file level in FileVault, these incompatibilities aren’t as troublesome, making it a much more pleasant experience. I meant what I said earlier: there is now no reason for you not to encrypt your data!
Files on your Mac OS X partition on your hard drive will remain locked until they are unlocked by your password. There is, after all, no point in encrypting all of your data on the actual hard drive if the potential criminal can waltz past a login screen that isn’t there, right?
The interesting thing here is that you are required to type your password BEFORE your Mac boots into OS X. The Mac partition will be completely locked down until you enter that information. You can still boot into Windows or your other operating systems, but you can’t touch the Mac partition at all unless you type your password. The reason for this is that your recovery keys are stored in the Recovery HD partition on your Mac which is created when Lion is installed. When you provide the correct password, the machine is authorised to continue booting the operating system.
If you happen to forget your password, then you can use the recovery key that was provided to you when the FileVault system was set up to access your data. If you didn’t note down the recovery key, then you can use the questions which are linked to your Apple ID to recover the data instead. Either way, the odds are that if you’re authorised, you will be able to get to your data somehow even if you forget your password.
Overall, FileVault in Lion is a pretty big improvement over Snow Leopard, and it’s been overhauled to give you great data protection whilst also making sure it works well with Time Machine. If you haven’t used FileVault before, now would be a great time to start. At least check it out; you can turn it off if you don’t like it!
How To Use ‘Resume’
Please allow me to paint a picture for you. You’re having a ludicrously productive day, a rare occurrence in anyone’s life, and have are a couple of things on the go, a few windows on your desktop that you have open in various Spaces and a number of projects floating around. All of a sudden, you see a tweet about a new software update that’s available for your computer. You just can’t resist clicking that little Apple button and checking for updates, only to see that the update in question requires a restart.
All of a sudden, your productivity has disappeared, your windows disappear as you restart your Mac, and when you’re back on the desktop with everything installed and up to date, you have no idea where to start. In Lion, Apple has introduced a feature called ‘Resume’ to stop just that situation from happening…
In Lion, when you restart your computer, you have a little checkbox in the restart dialogue that says ‘Reopen windows when logging in’ that is checked by default. If you restart your computer with this option checked, everything will come back just as you left it when shutting down!
Resume is a small feature, but it’s well worth checking out and will definitely deliver that productivity kick that you sometimes need in your workflow.
How To Use ‘Versions’
If you’re working on a long project or report, then it can become pretty difficult to keep track of all the content that you have to manage. Also, if you make a change that you don’t like, then it may be hard to remember what things were like originally a few days down the line when you look at it again.
Versions in Lion aims to solve this problem by keeping track of every change made in your document since you first started it, so that you’re less likely to lose content that you want, and you can feel freer to play around with content layouts and text without worrying about whether it will turn out worse than it was before.
Coupled with autosave, which automatically saves a version of your document each time a change is made to it so you don’t have to remember to save it manually, Versions allows you to go back in time with your document in a Time Machine-like interface.
To enter Versions mode whilst you’re in your document, go to ‘File’ > ‘Revert to saved…’ and the desktop will disappear behind your document, revealing a split view of the document in its current state and the previous versions of your document.
The great thing about this view is that the file you currently have open will remain editable. You can edit the text, re-arrange images and text boxes, and do everything you’d normally do in a regular window. Of course, you don’t enter Versions mode to carry on tinkering with your document with a nice space animation in the background – I mean, I’m sure some people do, but it’s not exactly “mucho productivo”, is it? – so there is another advantage to this view.
For some reason, you can’t simply drag and drop content at the moment, which makes it slightly more taxing to take content from one document to the other, but hopefully, this will come in a future version (sorry). Right now, if you just drag and drop and image it will fly off into space behind your document, so don’t try it at home!
As well as copying certain aspects back into your document, you can simply restore an entire previous version of it back to the present. Of course, the version that you were working on previously will be saved as a previous version, so if you change your mind then performing a u-turn is just a formality.
There’s no doubt that Versions is a great feature, and will save a lot of heartaches when writing up a long report or simply recovering an image you thought you’d lost when you got rid of it a few weeks ago. It’s currently fully compatible with TextEdit, as well as the iWork suite, so give it a go and let us know what you think in the comments!
New Features In ‘Mail 5’
Truth be told, I’ve never been a massive fan of Mail in Mac OS X. If I wasn’t having a technical issue with it, I’d be yearning for more advanced features such as conversation view that I needed a program such as Postbox to access, and more often than not I’d revert back to Postbox every time I chose a mail client on my computer.
With Mail 5 in Lion, however, Apple has made some major strides with its e-mail client, tweaking the UI to better fit widescreen layouts, offering full-screen support and adding a host of other new features which make it one of the best mail clients available. In fact, I’ve been using it for a few months now and I haven’t even installed Postbox in Lion…
The main change to the UI in Lion is the widescreen layout, which places two or three, depending on your preference, columns on the screen. The column to the far right-hand side is a preview column which shows your messages when you click on them in your inbox so that you don’t need to open them to view their contents. In the first column is a view of all your folders and different account. If you have more than just a regular inbox set up then you’ll want to have this visible. In a three column setup, the middle column houses the contents of whichever folder you’re currently viewing.
If you’re reading a string of emails, Mail 5 now places them in one thread in your inbox to keep it tidy and avoid clutter. Within the email, there is also a conversation view which is new to Mail and allows you to read all the previous emails which have been sent. If you want to see your replies – by default, only emails received in the thread are shown – then you can click on the “See more” text to expand the thread. Apple has put a little eye candy in here as the page actually folds out to reveal your text, which does look very cool.
There’s no doubt that Mail 5 has placed Apple’s e-mail client way ahead of most of the competition – especially the free competition – and it’s made up a lot of ground against applications such as Postbox, which people are now far less likely to pay for if they have a free client from Apple that does just as good a job.
New Features In ‘Photo Booth’
If apps were in the dictionary, Photo Booth would probably lie somewhere in between recreation and procrastination. It’s an Apple Store favourite, and its effects are pretty good at breaking the ice over a video call too when the situation arises.
Fans of the application will be glad to know, then, that it has been given a fresh lick of paint for its Lion debut, and it has some pretty cool new effects that you will want to goof around with as well.
Before we get to the effects in Photo Booth themselves, one of the major changes in the new version is the ability to launch the application in full-screen mode. This is a trend with many Apple applications in Lion – Safari, Mail and iTunes, just to name a few, all take advantage of this ability too – and Photo Booth is no exception.
When you’re in full-screen mode in Photo Booth, the traditional window is replaced by a graphically rich interface, with red curtains lacing the side of your screen and a wood panel providing a backdrop behind your frame. As you could in Snow Leopard, you can take a single picture, four pictures in quick succession, or record a video.
All of the effects from Photo Booth in Snow Leopard are present here too, including the popular backdrops such as the Eiffel Tower, Yosemite and even the Moon. If you were hoping that these had been updated, you will, unfortunately, be left disappointed, but they’re still fun to play around with nevertheless.
Two such effects are ‘Lovestruck’, which makes hearts float over your head – just because your manliness couldn’t sink any lower – and ‘Dizzy’, in which birds are rotated around your head. Both effects are capable of tracking your location within the frame, and they follow you around pretty well.
The other new effects which use facial recognition include ‘Space Alien’, which is fairly self explanatory; ‘Nose Twirl’, which makes your nose looks like it’s just taken a punch from Mike Tyson; ‘Bug Out’, which makes you look like a character off Disney’s ‘Antz’; and ‘Frog’, which can make you look like Kermit’s double, but can’t guarantee that you’ll get to kiss a princess.
If you used Photo Booth a lot before upgrading to Lion, then you’ll no doubt love the new effects which come with the new version of the application. The full-screen interface works really well whether you’re using a Mac with an 11-inch display (MacBook Air) or one with a 27-inch display (iMac), and some of the additional face tracking effects are quite impressive too. If you’re in the mood to brighten up an iChat conversation with these new effects, then knock yourself out! They’re bound to keep you entertained for a while, and they’re a great way to show off your Mac when you have visitors, too.
What Is ‘iCloud’?
Our Lion in the Spotlight feature has been pretty comprehensive; we’ve talked you through no less than 14 features, all of which deserve to be spoken about, but I think we’ve saved the best service ’til last in this case. Strictly speaking, iCloud isn’t exactly a feature of Lion, but a separate cloud offering outside the realms of Mac OS X and iOS. It does, however, work very well with both.
Currently, in limited beta to developers, iCloud is expected to be released to the public around the same time as iOS 5 and will be compatible with Mac OS X 10.7.2. We’ve been able to get a little sneak peek at the iCloud beta running in Lion, so let’s take a look!
At the moment, iCloud is placed in the ‘Mail, Contacts & Calendars’ section of System Preferences next to the existing ‘MobileMe’ entry, but by the time we get to the final version of iCloud and Mac OS X 10.7.2, I’d be willing to bet that the MobileMe entry might be replaced.
When you set up iCloud, you are given the choice of using an existing Apple ID with your iCloud account or creating one with a brand new ID. If you choose to create a new one, you will be able to register a @me.com email address for free, which is a nice added bonus if you don’t currently have one.
Once you have set up your email address and iCloud account, you can choose what you want iCloud to sync. I set the service up on my iMac before I set up my MacBook to see how everything would transfer across. I chose to sync my e-mail and notes, as well as all of the contacts in my Address Book, my Safari bookmarks and iCal events. On this page, you can also set up Photo Stream, documents and data syncing, and enable ‘Back to my Mac’ as well as ‘Find My Mac’ features.
This is great right now if you have two or more computers running Lion, but the real advantage will come when you’re out and about running iOS 5 on your iPhone and iPad. Current MobileMe subscribers will already be accustomed to this, but the convenience of being able to add events to your calendar and new contacts to your Address Book and then come home to see them already synced up with your Mac cannot be understated. Simply put, and you’ll have to excuse the cliche, it just works.
There’s no doubt that iCloud will be a hit with Apple users whether they’re on Mac OS X and iOS, and it will also do a great job of further enticing people into the whole Apple eco-system as well. I’ll certainly be using it more often, at any rate!
Apple To Offer Mac OS X Lion On USB Drives
Apple only offering a digital download of Lion has been one of the main talking points throughout the build-up to the release of the new OS, and it caused quite a stir among the traditionalist tech buffs who’d still rather install their new operating system via physical methods rather than digitally. If that sounds like you, then don’t worry, Apple’s got you covered.
It has been confirmed by Apple that when next month comes around, it will retail Lion in the stores, but not on the usual optical discs we’ve come to know and love, but rather on USB memory stick/pen/flash drives (or whatever else you might call these particular devices). Predictably, this will mean you have to dish out a little more money to get your hands on the latest Mac OS, to the tune of £55 in total.
So essentially, you’re parting with an extra £34 for a USB drive from Apple that has Lion pre-loaded onto it. If this sounds a little extortionate, but you’d like to have your own hard copy of the OS, then you can pick up a standard USB memory stick much cheaper and then follow our simple how-to guide at the start of this very article!
However, we are assuming that this is only aimed at those who don’t have the means to download the image in the first place, so perhaps creating your own bootable drive isn’t as viable as it would seem. For example, we still live in a world where many people don’t have super-fast broadband, and many more have data caps. In which case, this is ideal, as the 4GB download of Lion from the app store could leave you with some pretty hefty charges on your next bill.
Alternatively, Apple has said that you can take your machine down to the retail stores and borrow their connection for the download if you so wish, though this isn’t ideal if you’re a desktop user.
It’s a little interesting that this wasn’t the case from launch, and perhaps this has been thrown up as a result of a U-turn by Apple after sensing the discontent at those who needed a physical copy to load from, and a way to make a quick buck from any put off by the original delivery method via the App Store. It’s also a further indication of Apple’s determination to get away from optical media entirely, arriving with the news that they’ve ditched hard copies of much of its software entirely from the retail stores.
Would you pay more than double the digital asking price for your own hard copy of Lion?
Hoping to study Computer Science at University in the near future, you’ll seldom see John without a computer in touching distance! His interests include building computers, reading all sorts of literature and of course writing for Zath to keep you updated on all the latest in the world of tech! You can follow John on Twitter as @british_geek.