Lion debuts a new era of multi-touch computing, with features designed for devices like the Apple Magic Trackpad and the Magic Mouse. Users of Lion will be able to naturally flow through work using simple swipes and gestures.
The ease of use extends to autosave, a feature that enables applications to automatically start up again where you last left them. We take a look at tools you can use to experience this more user-friendly era now.
Raskin for Mac (www.raskinformac.com)
Price: £34.95 Min Specs: Mac OS X 10.6.3
Named after Jef Raskin, the interface guru responsible for many of the Mac’s user interface innovations, Raskin is a Finder replacement for the iPad age. It incorporates concepts that Jef designed for his final project, ZUI (Zoomable User Interface).
Raskin scans your system at startup and generates a series of easy-to-navigate columns. Contained within are your folders, applications and files, ordered hierarchically by how frequently accessed they are. Your text files are readable directly from the interface, your media files are playable. Quick Look never looked so good. On a MacBook with multi-touch or any machine using a Magic Trackpad, this is all very intuitive and impressive – a step towards the kind of interfaces dreamed of in movies like Minority Report.
Smart Scroll (www.marcmoini.com/sx_en.html)
Price: $14 (£9) Min Specs: Mac OS X 10.4
Early previewers of Lion have noticed something unusual about some of the screen shots. No scroll bars. It looks like, as part of the push towards a touchscreen interface, the scrolling UI in Lion will be closer to that of iOS.
How can you have that grab-and-scroll experience right now? Smart Scroll will do the trick. It’s been around for a while, but the most recent updates add iPhone-like Super Scroll behaviour to any version of Mac OS above 10.4. That means that you can flick through documents just like on an iPad.
There are also keyboard scrolling, auto-scrolling and Hover Scroll, a feature that enables you to speedily scroll documents up and down without a click.
Price: £24.95 Min Specs: Mac OS X 10.4
Like Snow Leopard, Lion is expected to be a leaner, faster version of OS X optimised for modern machines. For the time being, CleanMyMac will be able to fillet your system effectively and quickly. On test machines a full scan didn’t take long at all, identifying megabytes worth of legacy code and useless fluff.
The software looks for the data your applications leave in their wake and don’t need. Spotlight, nib and DS files, language packs and the like. CleanMyMac enables you to select specific clean-up tasks, scanning for and removing any unneeded data it finds.
As a bonus, CleanMyMac also comes bundled with application removal tools similar to AppZapper – unlike Lion.
Price: $14.95 Min Specs: Mac OS X 10.5
Formerly known as EverSave, ForeverSave adds automatic backup capabilities to all your Mac applications. Lion will have autosave built in, so if programs crash or you forget to save a file before you shut down, you won’t lose hours of work. It’s a feature that’s catching on from implementations on iOS tools and cloud applications, like Google Docs. ForeverSave adds the same functionality and more, right now.
As well as backing up your work as you go along, ForeverSave’s control centre enables you to track and manage a database of saved files. A configuration wizard walks you through the steps required to set up new applications with ForeverSave, but most of the time you can simply forget that it’s there, until you need it.