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The Lion and the iPad

Mac OS X Lion wasn?t presented as a revolutionary product in October 2011. Lion?despite the name?was supposed to go out like a lamb. Installing it takes nothing more than a few clicks at the Apple store and $30 on your credit card.

Perhaps part of the lack of hype stems from CEO Steve Jobs declaring the PC was dead more than a year ago. The company has focused most of its publicity on the multiple versions of the iPhone and iPad that have come out since the last OS for Mac. Even the once-astounding iPods have fallen by the wayside.

Unsurprisingly, developers at Mac have reacted to the shift towards tablets and smartphones. Lion isn?t as meek as it seems when you consider that it?s not competing against previous OS versions?it?s competing directly with the company?s mobile prot?g?s.

Like any good competitor, it leeches off of the iOS?s best features. Most glaringly, it stole the direction users swipe on the touchpad to move a page up and down. The features are opposite of older versions, which essentially make your touchpad into a faceless iPhone. The gesture, which seems natural on a smartphone, doesn?t translate quite as well when you can?t see a screen. After all, you?re not dragging a screen to see more of a view; you?re dragging your fingers across a very blank gray square.

If the touchpad/PC combo is throwing you off, have no fear. You can actually turn your computer into a giant iPad with Launchpad. The program changes your interface to actually look and behave like on iOS. Apps can be erased by clicking and holding the icon down until it shakes, and switching between views can be accomplished with a simple swipe.

In another shift from competing with Bill Gates to competing within its brand, Lion has pushed towards having programs and apps fill the full screen. Macs traditionally have made more of a push for smaller screen sizes for applications to show off its processing speed and its ability to open app after app and tab after tab without slowing down. Screen size might be a subtle difference, but such a switch clearly shows how Apple sees the players on the field changing.

A few changes come straight from OS X?s heart. iOS hasn?t reached a place where it has replaced OS X?s ability to edit video and documents, and Lion has done its best to capitalize on these strengths. Quicktime has gotten a facelift and some additional capabilities, including a limited capacity to edit video. Quicktime certainly isn?t going toe-to-toe with iMovie, but it?s great for making a quick compilation. Endgadget reported that it only took them a few minutes to adjust to the touchpad, but some users will take longer depending on if you’re switching between older and newer Macs or if you’ve even ever picked up an iPhone.

Mac knocked it out of the ballpark when they created Versions and Auto Save. Auto Save works similarly to Google Docs where it will save every change you make and list the title as ?Edited? until you save the document yourself. Versions beefs up the capability by saving once every hour. You can go back to previous versions of the document while still saving your newest version. Sadly, the features are only available on native Apple programs.

Another new program basically mimics Dropbox, but is only compatible with other Mac users. The idea is essentially the same, just prettier: you drag a file into Airdrop, and added users can access it. For Mac?s first toe-dip into cloud computing, it?s not a bad product. It?s also not an incredibly useful product when Dropbox is already on the market for free.

In Apple?s internal struggle over what to get consumers to purchase, the iPad may get asked out on more dates, but Mac is still what most Apple users want to come home to at the end of the day. Mac is focusing more of its efforts on becoming a computing powerhouse and cementing its place in a brand that is seemingly done with its genre.

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