Some of the features of the upcoming Mac OS X 10.7 Lion were announced today. I am very disappointed in the changes Apple is making to the OS and the UI.
I used to really like Mac OS X, but in recent years I have been liking it less and less. I don’t actually use Mac OS X, except when I visit my mom and use her iMac with version 10.3 on it. Even so, I like to follow its development.
It’s been hard for me to describe, but I think today’s announcement finally made it clear to me. I think the original idea of Mac OS X is wonderful. There is a windowing UI with lots of drag and drop. It has great default settings and appearances. There is pretty much one way to do everything: UI is Aqua, software installation is drag and drop, and so on.
What I mainly don’t like about recent versions of Mac OS X is the “layers”. Apple keeps adding layers and layers to the UI, and it looks like a mess to me. Spotlight adds search to the desktop which should be in the file manager. Dashboard adds a literal extra layer of tiny applications that run on top of your other applications. Time Machine “takes over” your entire desktop with a space theme. That springy thing in the dock is the “answer” to having too many icons down there, and it isn’t even consistent in appearance with itself all the time. Newly announced features include super-fullscreen mode for some applications that breaks the established window model, a new method of cycling through open applications (while leaving the old methods), and a new screen to store and launch applications from. It all looks very nice and flashy and like a load of crap to me. You see this screenshot from the Mac OS X early public beta? It looks fabulous. I wish it still looked like this.
Another thing I greatly dislike is the tendency for applications to do everything. iTunes, the music player, now plays movies, stores mobile applications, and includes a store. iPhoto, the image viewer, connects to Facebook and can send emails. Garageband, the music writing software, now teaches you how to play an instrument.
Lastly, the “transition” from Aqua to brushed metal is terrible in my opinion. The UI doesn’t look nearly as nice and consistent as it used to.
My general feeling after hearing about the updates was for how grateful I am for Haiku. I started using Haiku because it was free and open source software and it was unified like Mac OS X. Now I’m thinking Haiku is a better Mac OS X than Mac OS X.