Being an OS X 10.7 Lion skeptic and foot-dragger, I was fascinated to read that no less than Macworld senior editor Christopher Breen shares pretty much the same misgivings about the direction Apple has chosen to take with its latest Mac OS revision as I do. To wit: Breen’s an avowed “mouse guy” like me, and as he observes, one of Lion’s major themes is its iOS-style touch interface and gestures, which to fully take advantage of you’re obliged to use a trackpad or Apple Magic Mouse—input devices he finds to be to be less precise than a traditional mouse. When using them, more often than not he says he finds himself wrestling to accurately place the cursor. Tell me about it.
As real mouse guys, we don’t use gestures. At least not very much. I’ve owned a unibody MacBook with an oversized glass multi-touch trackpad for nearly three years, and have rarely ever used any of the gestures it supports beyond the basic tap-clicking and dragging that date back to the first Apple PowerBook trackpads in 1993. As Breen notes, most of the more useful gesture actions can be executed more efficiently with keyboard shortcuts, which, unlike the vague and erratic response you typically get with gestures, can be counted on to work predictably every time.
Apple’s so-called “natural scrolling” is likewise of no benefit to us mouse folks either. It’s okay on my iPad (although I would still prefer the option of having traditional scroll bars even there), but as Breen observes, “when you introduce a mouse’s scroll wheel, the conceit breaks down…there’s nothing natural or intuitive about moving a scroll wheel in the direction opposite to what we’ve used in the past.” Exactly.
Speaking of scroll bars, I’ll go along with Breen to the extent there’s perhaps a case to be made for leaving them out of the all full-screen all the time iOS, but doing likewise with OS X makes zero sense to me, and I fail to grasp how removing the arrow buttons from a scroll bar and making it clumsily tiny amounts to any sort of improvement at all, save for perhaps an aesthetic one in the eyes of some beholders. Form trumping function again. As Breen observes, “the aesthetic of a less cluttered scroll bar (or no scroll bar at all) is interesting, but I don’t need my Mac to be aesthetically interesting…I need it to provide me with controls for easily navigating windows.” Amen, brother.
Personally, I also still need support for several key applications and utilities that require Rosetta PowerPC emulation to run, with known potential workarounds and substitutes all entailing a substantial productivity and efficiency hit, but that’s another movie. Lion’s iOSified input angularities are bad enough in their own right.