Mac News Review

OS X Lion Available, Mac mini Updated, Using Snow Leopard and Lion, Safari Updates, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.07.26

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

OS X Lion Available from the Mac App Store

PR: Apple on Wednesday announced that Mac OS X Lion, the eighth major release of the company's OS X operating system with more than 250 new features, is available immediately as a download from the Mac App Store for $29.99. Some of the features in Lion include: new Multi-Touch gestures; systemwide support for full screen apps; Mission Control, a view of everything running on your Mac; the Mac App Store built right into the OS; Launchpad, a new home for all your apps; and a completely redesigned Mail app.

MacBook Air running OS X 10.7 Lion
MacBook Air running OS X 10.7 Lion

"Lion is the best version of OS X yet, and we're thrilled that users around the world can download it starting today," says Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Lion makes upgrading a Mac easier than ever before; just launch the Mac App Store, buy Lion with your iTunes account, and the download and install process will begin automatically."

Additional new features in Lion include:

  • Resume, which conveniently brings your apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app;
  • Auto Save, which automatically and continuously saves your documents as you work;
  • Versions, which automatically records the history of your document as you create it, and gives you an easy way to browse, revert and even copy and paste from previous versions; and
  • AirDrop, which finds nearby Macs and automatically sets up a peer-to-peer wireless connection to make transferring files quick and easy.*

Mac OS X Lion is available as an upgrade to Mac OS X version 10.6.6 Snow Leopard (a relief for those of us who have balked at installing the bug-plagued OS X 10.6.8 update) from the Mac App Store for $29.99. At around 4 GB, it is about the size of an HD movie from the iTunes Store. Users who do not have broadband access at home, work or school can download Lion at Apple retail stores and later this August, Lion will be made available on a USB thumb drive through the Apple Store for $69. Mac OS X Lion Server requires Lion and is available from the Mac App Store for $49.99.

System Requirements

Lion requires an Intel-based Mac with a Core 2 Duo, i3, i5, i7, or Xeon processor and 2 GB of RAM. Lion is an upgrade and can be installed on all your authorized personal Macs. Details regarding Business and Education licensing can be found online.

The OS X Lion Up-to-Date upgrade will be available through the Mac App Store at no additional charge to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after June 6, 2011. Users must request their Up-to-Date upgrade within 30 days of purchase of their Mac computer. Customers who purchased a qualifying Mac between June 6, 2011 and July 20, 2011 will have until August 19, 2011 to make a request. Additional information can be found at http://apple.com/macosx/uptodate

* Publisher's note: Although AirDrop is a feature of OS X 10.7 Lion, it is not compatible with all Macs that can run Lion. Specifically, you need a 2008 or newer MacBook or MacBook Pro, 2009 or newer iMac or Mac Pro (with AirPort), or 2010 or newer MacBook Air or Mac mini. dk

Migration Assistant Update for Snow Leopard Supports Upgrade to Lion

PR: For those migrating to a new Mac with OS X 10.7 Lion, the Migration Assistant Update for Mac OS X Snow Leopard 1.0 update addresses an issue with the Migration Assistant application in Mac OS X Snow Leopard that prevents transfer of your personal data, settings, and compatible applications from a Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard to a new Mac running Mac OS X Lion.

System requirements:

  • Intel
  • Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later.

Apple Updates Mac mini

PR: Apple on Wednesday updated the Mac mini with next generation Intel Core processors, new discrete graphics, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O technology, and OS X Lion. The new Mac mini delivers up to twice the processor and graphics performance of the previous generation in the same amazingly compact and efficient aluminum design.1 Starting at just $599, the new Mac mini is available now.

2011 Mac mini"Mac mini delivers the speed and expandability that makes it perfect for the desktop, living room or office," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "With faster processors, more powerful graphics and Thunderbolt in an incredibly compact, aluminum design, the new Mac mini is more versatile than ever."

2011 Mac miniAt just 7.7" square and 1.4" thin, the new Mac mini maintains its compact aluminum design while delivering high performance and graphics capabilities. Available in three different configurations, customers can choose a Mac mini with the latest dual-core Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 processors, AMD Radeon HD 6630M discrete graphics, or a quad-core Intel Core i7 powered server configuration. Designed without an optical disc drive, Mac mini can access the optical drives on other PCs and Macs, and works with the MacBook Air SuperDrive. Configure-to-order options include up to 8 GB of memory, a faster 7200 RPM hard drive, and a 256 GB solid state drive (SSD).

2011 Mac miniMac mini now comes with Thunderbolt I/O technology for expansion possibilities never before available to Mac mini users. With a Thunderbolt port, Mac mini can connect to peripherals such as high-performance storage devices, RAID arrays and the new Apple Thunderbolt Display, a 27" IPS widescreen display that's great for making FaceTime HD video calls, surfing the Web and viewing movies and photos.

With ultra-fast WiFi, you can wirelessly download apps from the Mac App Store, get music and movies from iTunes, back up data to Time Capsule, and share files with AirDrop, which makes transferring files quick and easy. Mac mini includes Bluetooth for wireless peripherals and four USB ports for easy connectivity for the wired and wireless devices you use every day.

The new Mac mini remains the world's most energy efficient desktop, meets Energy Star 5.2 requirements and achieves EPEAT Gold status.2 Mac mini has a highly recyclable aluminum enclosure, PVC-free components and cables, no brominated flame retardants and features material-efficient system and packaging designs.

Every new Mac mini comes with Mac OS X Lion, the latest major release of Apple's Mac OS X, the world's most advanced operating system, and iLife apps for creating and sharing great photos, movies and music. Lion introduces more than 250 new features to the Mac, including Multi-Touch gestures and systemwide support for full screen apps; Mission Control, an innovative view of everything running on your Mac; the Mac App Store, the best place to find and explore great software; Launchpad, a new home for all your apps; and a completely redesigned Mail app.

The new Mac mini is available through the Apple Store now and in Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers starting July 21.

  • The 2.3 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 Mac mini with 2 GB of memory and a 500 GB hard drive starts at a suggested retail price of $599, with options to add memory up to 8 GB and a 750 GB hard drive.
  • The 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 Mac mini with 4 GB of memory and a 500 GB hard drive starts at a suggested retail price of $799, with options to upgrade to a 2.7 GHz dual-core Core i7 processor, up to 8 GB of memory, and a 750 GB hard drive with an option to add or replace with a 256 GB solid state drive.
  • The 2.0 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 Mac mini with Lion Server, 4 GB of memory and dual 500 GB hard drives starts at a suggested retail price of $999. Options include adding memory up to 8 GB, two 750 GB hard drives, or up to two 256 GB solid state drives.
  1. Testing conducted by Apple in July 2011 using preproduction Mac mini configurations. For more information visit www.apple.com/macmini/features.html.
  2. EPEAT is an independent organization that helps customers compare the environmental performance of notebooks and desktops. For more information visit www.epeat.net.

3 Ways to Install Lion over OS X 10.5 Leopard

Macworld's Dan Frakes notes that one of the requirements for installing Lion is that you already have Mac OD X 10.6 Snow Leopard version 10.6.6 or later installed, the main practical reason for this requirement being that Lion is currently available only via the Mac App Store, which debuted in Mac OS X 10.6.6, so you'll need Snow Leopard just to purchase and download Lion.

However, once the Lion installer is in hand, the operative question is whether you can install it onto a Mac or a hard drive containing Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Frakes discusses the legal and technical aspects of Lion-over-Leopard installs for personal, noncommercial use, noting that there are some gray areas, and observes that while the letter of the law says you need to install Snow Leopard before installing Lion, the spirit of the law seems to be that a particular Mac just needs a license for Snow Leopard before you can install Lion on it. In other words, in his view you should be well within your rights to install Lion on any of your computers for which you have a valid, current Snow Leopard license, even if you don't install Snow Leopard on it first. As for technical obstacles, while the Lion installer refuses to install Lion onto a drive containing Leopard, it will install onto a blank drive, so Lion clearly doesn't need any of Snow Leopard's files or settings, but, while the Lion installer will freely install Lion onto a blank drive, the installer itself must be run from within Snow Leopard or Lion.

However, according to Frakes there are three ways: the official way, the brute-force method, and the quick-but-techie way. Instructions are offered for each.

Publisher's note: Site statistics for Thursday, July 21, show that over 28% of Intel Mac users visiting lowendmac.com were already using Lion the day after it released, almost 61% were using Snow Leopard, and over 9% were still running OS X 10.5 Leopard, so there's a fair number of Leopard users who may be considering migrating to Lion. dk

How to Keep Using Snow Leopard After Upgrading to Lion

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler says that while OS X Lion's features and advancements make it an enticing installation, unfortunately Apple is doing away with some key features that have maintained compatibility with some popular applications. Some of these, such as the lack of Java, can be remedied by installing support for them, but there's no workaround for others like Rosetta and support for 32-bit system extensions in the default 64-bit boot environment. And a number of applications will not run, as can be seen on the RoaringApps (below) Lion compatibility database. As a result, he notes, it may still be useful for some users to maintain their current Snow Leopard installations, even if they would like to install Lion to take advantage of its features.

There are a two routes to running both Lion and Snow Leopard, virtualization (mentioned in last week's Mac News Review) and dual-booting.

RoaringApps, Application Compatibility for Mac OS X Lion

If you're unsure whether a favorite or mission-critical piece of application or utility software will run on OS X 10.7 Lion, RoaringApps brings you a collaborative wiki community to track, discuss, and dissect application compatibility for OS X Lion.

RoaringApps is also a great place to stumble across the next great addition to your Dock, with hundreds of applications compiled into one simple table.

OS Identity Crisis: The iOSification of Mac OS X

Technology Review's Christopher Mims notes that both Apple and Microsoft's new desktop operating systems borrow elements from mobile devices - in sometimes confusing ways - with both reflecting a tectonic shift in personal computing, incorporating elements from the companies' mobile operating systems alongside more conventional desktop features.

Mims suggests that demos of both operating systems suggest that users could face a confusing mishmash of design ideas and interaction methods, and cites Peter Merholz, president of the user-experience and design firm Adaptive Path, observing that while the iPad's runaway success has indicated the existence of a latent, unmet need for a new form of computing, "moving PCs in a tablet direction isn't necessarily sensible."

Independent software developer Cathy Shive is quoted by Mims saying she was "appalled" when she first saw Steve Jobs' demo of Lion, and surprised by the direction both Apple and Microsoft are taking, noting that a fundamental dictate of usability design is that an interface should be tailored to the specific context and hardware in which it lives, and a desktop PC is not the same thing as a tablet or a mobile device, but "It seemed like what [Jobs] was showing us was a giant iPad." She contends that "Apple has been seduced by their own success, and they're jumping to translate that over to the desktop . . . They think there's some kind of shortcut, where everyone is loving this interface on the mobile device, so they will love it on their desktop as well."

Editor's note: I agree, and I think it's fair to predict that a lot of desktop users aren't going to be feeling the love. I like my new iPad 2 and appreciate that within the constraints of practical handheld computing, GUI compromises needed to be made, but there is virtually nothing I find functionally superior or preferable in the iOS way of doing things compared with traditional Mac OS user interface conventions. The iOS's angularities are what I like least about the iPad. I dislike gesture based control, I don't like fullscreen application windows and the need to check out of one application in order to look at another. Text selection is a frustrating nightmare of imprecision, and so on.

I'm sure there will be many things to like about OS X 10.7 Lion, but the various iOSifications it will incorporate will not be among them in my estimation. A moot point in the near term, as I have too many mission-critical, legacy apps and utilities that probably won't run in 64-bit only Lion to consider upgrading any time soon. cm

Apple Aces PCMag Readers' Choice Survey Again

PCMag Staff have posted a quick glance at the companies they deemed worthy of receiving their annual Readers' Choice Awards for 2011. Awards are based on how users rated them. PCMag has also included it choices for Honorable Mentions.

In the Laptops & Netbooks category, topping the list is:

Overall/Work/Home/Less Than a Year Old: Apple Inc.

Apple once again has incredibly high overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend ratings in every category it competed in. This is despite a high number of units needing repairs.

[Ouch! I don't like the sound of that latter bit. cm]

And in the Desktops category:

All Categories: Apple Inc.

No other company's satisfaction ratings come close to Apple. Even its satisfaction with repair rating is unmatched, despite a big drop this year.

[Hey; is increased sales volume causing a decline in Mac build quality? Anecdotally, my bro-in-law's new iMac has been in for warranty attention already. cm]

Mobile Platforms? You guessed it: iOS is the winner:

There's little question that Apple's time tested iOS, paired with an unparalleled selection of apps, a great music player, gaming, and overall reliability is the favorite among PCMag readers.

However, it wasn't a complete Apple sweep. Apple's iPhone, the longtime leader in the AT&T Mobile Phone category, was bumped to second-place by Windows Phone 7, although the editors note, "People still love their iPhones, even if they don't like AT&T."

Back in the win column, though, for the Verizon Wireless Mobile Phone category, the Verizon variant of the iPhone finished number-one.

In the Network Routers category, Apple again, PCMag's editors observing:

Once again, Apple customers give satisfaction ratings that can't be touched by any router company. Despite a relatively high percentage of units needing repairs, respondents claim their devices to be very reliable and they're most likely to recommend the routers to a friend.

Apple Updates

Safari 5.1 for Mac OS X 10.6

PR: Safari 5.1 contains new features including:

  • Reading List: Easily add webpages and links to your Reading List to browse when you have time.
  • New Process Architecture: Safari has been reengineered for improved stability and responsiveness.
  • Resume: In the General pane of Safari preferences, you can now choose to launch Safari with the windows from your last browsing session.
  • Better Privacy: A new Privacy pane in Safari preferences makes it easy to remove data that websites can leave on your system.

Other improvements include:

  • Private AutoFill: Safari lets you fill out forms quickly while keeping your personal information private.
  • Find Option: When you use Find, you can choose whether you want to search for text that contains or starts with the text that you type in the search field.
  • Drag-and-drop Downloads: You can drag items out of the Downloads window in Safari, so you can easily place downloaded files on the Desktop.
  • Advanced Web Technologies: Safari introduces support for fullscreen webpages, media caching with the HTML5 application cache, MathML, Web Open Font Format, CSS3 Auto-hyphenation, CSS3 Vertical Text, CSS3 Text Emphasis, Window.onError, and Formatted XML files.
  • New Extension APIs: Developers can take advantage of new Safari Extension support for popovers, menus, new event classes, and interaction with Reader.

The Safari 5 (Mac OS X 10.6) update includes the following improvements:

  • Stability improvements for webpages when a plugin stops responding
  • Stability improvements for web applications that use WebSocket with certain proxy configurations
  • Improvements to the appearance and layout of text with HTML5 ruby annotations
  • A fix for an issue that could affect the layout of mail.yahoo.co.jp
  • A fix for an issue that could cause elements in frames to appear in the wrong place on pandora.com and other websites
  • A fix for an issue that could cause custom-styled cursors on some webpages to be positioned incorrectly
  • Automatic hyphenation of justified text in Reader view
  • A fix for an issue that prevented Safari from saving webpages with long titles as a web archive

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.6.8
  • Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7

Safari 5.0.6 for OS X 10.5 Leopard

PR: Safari 5.0.6 for Leopard contains improvements to stability, compatibility, and security, including the following:

  • Stability improvements for web applications that use WebSocket with certain proxy configurations
  • Improvements to the appearance and layout of text with HTML5 ruby annotations
  • A fix for an issue that could cause elements in frames to appear in the wrong place on pandora.com and other websites

For information on the security content of this update, please visit https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1222

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.8

Java for OS X Lion

PR: Java for OS X Lion installs Java SE 6 version 1.6.0_26. OS X Lion does not provide a Java runtime by default.

System Requirements: OS X 10.7

Software

75% Off Sale on Lion-Compatible TypeIt4Me 5.2 in Mac App Store

PR: Ettore Software Ltd. has slashed the price of its Now Lion-Compatible flagship product, TypeIt4Me, by 75% to a new low price of $4.99.

This time-limited promotion - exclusively available in the Mac App Store - is to celebrate the release of Apple's new operating system. TypeIt4Me version 5.2 is fully compatible with the eagerly-awaited Mac OS X 10.7, a.k.a. Lion.

Available since 1989, TypeIt4Me is the original text expander for Mac OS, allowing users to save keystrokes and time by defining short abbreviations (text macros) that when typed will expand on the fly to full words, sentences, paragraphs, or even pictures. Now in its 22nd year, it's still in active development and going strong.

Users who buy it now at this special price will also get a free upgrade from the Mac App Store when the iCloud-savvy version of TypeIt4Me becomes available later on this summer.

CrossOver Lets You Run Windows Apps on Your Intel Mac Without Buying Windows

PR: CrossOver allows you to install many popular Windows applications on your Mac or Linux computer. You can think of it as an emulator, but it's different, because there's no Windows OS license required. Your applications integrate seamlessly in OS X or Linux; just click and run. No rebooting, no switching to a virtual machine, and no Windows Operating System license required.

Adding new Windows software is easy. Just place your install CD in your machine, and CrossOver will recognize it and offer to install it. Once installed, CrossOver will configure your application to run on your computer. That's all there is to it.

CrossOver is capable of running a range of Windows software. To see if your favorite application is supported, please check the CrossOver Compatibility Center, or search for them using the search box at the top of their homepage.

System requirements - Mac Version:

  • Intel-based Macintosh system running Mac OS X (note: CrossOver will not run on PowerPC systems)
  • 120 MB of free disk space
  • Mac OS X Leopard (10.5.x) or later is recommended.
  • For CrossOver 10.x and higher, Tiger (10.4.x) is no longer supported.

New in version 10.1.0:

  • Fixed several known issues with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.
  • Don't move cursor on display mode change, start up, or quit.
  • Simplify user interactions when Quartz-WM is missing.
  • Fixed check printing in Quicken 2011.

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