Inside Mac OS X Lion: New Window Controls & Gestures

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
Apple is finally letting go of old windowing conventions that date back to the original Macintosh, allowing users in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion to fluidly interact with windows any way they like.



Back in 1984, Apple had to bundle new Macs with instructions on how to use a mouse. Today, users don't need the same kind of hand-holding, although the company now includes videos within System Preferences to demonstrate how various multitouch gestures work.



Apple has increasingly stripped the Mac OS Human User Interface Guidelines of unnecessary chrome designed to show them how to do things (like resize windows, or reposition information within a window) that are now easier to discover, thanks to smoothly animated graphical transitions.



Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs demonstrated some of the new features of Lion back in September.



Overlay scrollbars



Many of these advances were pioneered by iPhone's iOS, including the removal of full sized scroll bars that tend to take up a significant strip of valuable real estate, particularly on mobile devices.



As was only hinted at previously, Mac OS X Lion will similarly draw only subtle "overlay scrollbars" when necessary, allowing them to fade away to avoid consuming area within windows.



As demonstrated in the video below, Lion's scrollbars can be directly interacted with using the pointer while they are visible, a trick that isn't possible on iOS.



Flexible window resizing



The Mac now gains the ability to resize windows from any edge or corner, similar to features exposed over twenty years ago by Jobs' NeXTSTEP operating system, but which were removed from Mac OS X in order to preserve the look and feel of the original Mac UI.



Lion exposes flexible window resizing without resorting to resize controls however; the edges of windows remain borderless, with only a pointer change indicating the directions a window boundary can be resized. Movie on page two.



Update: A developer reports that window resizing also supports standard modifier keys, so holding Shift while resizing a window from any edge constrains the window resizing to its existing aspect ratio, while holding Option resizes the window from its center point.



On page 2 of 2: Enhanced Finder features.



Enhanced Finder features



Specific to the Finder, Lion gets a revised source list, with simple monochromatic icons that look borrowed from the iPad. Also, rather than using triangle disclosure controls to hide item lists, the revised source list simply offers a "hide" button that appears when the pointer is nearby.



The Finder's "Places" is also replaced with "Favorites," and "Search For" is removed, with search queries now added as a gear icon under the Favorites list. Icons in the source list no longer disappear in a poof of smoke; they now require a right click to open a contextual menu that offers to remove the item, a more deliberate action that is harder to enact by mistake.



Finder views are presented with a new virtual physical slider control reminiscent of the iOS, and more items are presented as Cover Flow listings that can be flicked through by the user, indicating a shift toward intuitive, "hands on" multitouch navigation items.



A new Quick View panel presents previews within a light grey window rather than the translucent black "heads up display" of the existing Mac OS X, providing both a new full screen icon in the top right (rather than at the bottom, as it is currently). This control is now standard on many windows, providing a way to make an individual window a full screen view that gets rid of both the window controls and the system's menu bar, while still easy to escape from using the reappearing menu bar that drops down from the top. Again, more iOS simplicity that focuses on content rather than a complex user interface.



QuickView windows also present a button that can open the item being viewed, such as a Preview link for graphics (as depicted in the video) or an option to open a volume or folder in its own window. The green Zoom button now works consistently as a control to optimize the size of the window to fit its contents, leaving the full screen button to do a separate task.











Enhanced Gestures



Apple has also demonstrated a series of gestures that can be used to open Launchpad, invoke Mission Control for moving between full screen apps (which are each located in their own virtual desktop via Spaces), Dashboard, and other open programs and their applications, as well as navigating between web pages and within pages using new Double Tap to Pinch to Zoom features borrowed from iOS.





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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 127
    irelandireland Posts: 17,685member
    Why do you insist in writing for AI under two names?
  • Reply 2 of 127
    It's good to see so much thought going into this. Most companies would declare their user interface a 'solved problem', and let it go at that.
  • Reply 3 of 127
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,595member
    Interesting. I think a lot of this stuff make take me some time to get used to, simply because the current processes are so engrained. However, most of that looks *very* cool.



    I'm definitely looking forward to Lion.
  • Reply 4 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    Why do you insist in writing for AI under two names?





    Quite laughable, indeed.
  • Reply 5 of 127
    I am using it now and it's polish so far is excellent, have no doubt that the retail GM will excite and put a smile on your face.
  • Reply 6 of 127
    tofinotofino Posts: 697member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    Why do you insist in writing for AI under two names?



    I know! Why bring 'Prince' back after all this time? I thought Daniel got over that around the same time 'The Artist formerly known as 'Prince'' did.
  • Reply 7 of 127
    just bought a 2011 macbook pro, will I be able to get osx lion upgrade for free? haven't they done that in the past for snow leopard?



    and also, could they please change the itunes stoplight back to horizontal? its getting really annoying when all other windows and programs are horizontal (will still be horizontal according to their previews) and itunes is it vertical. either vertical/horizontal, pick one!
  • Reply 8 of 127
    29922992 Posts: 202member
    I'm gonna buy Lion for "window resizing" only!



    )
  • Reply 9 of 127
    Hidden scrollbars and some of these other "new features" violate apple's own human interface Guidlines. One of the important ones is not to hide controls. I totally understand why they do it on a small screen like the iPhone, but for big screens it doesn't make sense.



    Full screen apps? What's next MDI?



    Sheldon
  • Reply 10 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by blueeddie View Post


    just bought a 2011 macbook pro, will I be able to get osx lion upgrade for free? haven't they done that in the past for snow leopard?



    and also, could they please change the itunes stoplight back to horizontal? its getting really annoying when all other windows and programs are horizontal (will still be horizontal according to their previews) and itunes is it vertical. either vertical/horizontal, pick one!



    If memory serves correctly, they'll often give it to you for free if it's very close within launch, like a week or something. If you bought it within 30 or 60 days, you get it for like $10.



    Something like that.
  • Reply 11 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by blueeddie View Post


    just bought a 2011 macbook pro, will I be able to get osx lion upgrade for free? haven't they done that in the past for snow leopard?



    and also, could they please change the itunes stoplight back to horizontal? its getting really annoying when all other windows and programs are horizontal (will still be horizontal according to their previews) and itunes is it vertical. either vertical/horizontal, pick one!



    Reverting the buttons to a horizontal layout can easily be done. With iTunes not running, open Terminal and enter the following code:



    defaults write com.apple.iTunes full-window -1



    To restore the vertical layout, simply use this command:



    defaults write com.apple.iTunes full-window -0



    (Courtesy of Macworld.com)
  • Reply 12 of 127
    guch20guch20 Posts: 173member
    I love that I'm on an Apple fansite with my iPod and can't view the videos because they're in Flash.
  • Reply 13 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stokessd View Post


    Hidden scrollbars and some of these other "new features" violate apple's own human interface Guidlines. One of the important ones is not to hide controls. I totally understand why they do it on a small screen like the iPhone, but for big screens it doesn't make sense.



    Full screen apps? What's next MDI?



    Sheldon



    For those who enjoy it, they'll be welcome features to help clean up the interface and have less clutter. If you like the current scrollbars, those are available too in the options.



    I look forward Lion!
  • Reply 14 of 127
    msanttimsantti Posts: 1,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stokessd View Post


    Hidden scrollbars and some of these other "new features" violate apple's own human interface Guidlines. One of the important ones is not to hide controls. I totally understand why they do it on a small screen like the iPhone, but for big screens it doesn't make sense.



    Full screen apps? What's next MDI?



    Sheldon



    And when did Apple come out with their guideline.



    I think it's safe to say that at least some stuff is getting thrown out.



    And from what I have seen, I think it's for the better.



    Just because certain ideas came up years ago, it does not make them the best ways to do it.
  • Reply 15 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The Mac now gains the ability to resize windows from any edge or corner, similar to features exposed over twenty years ago by Jobs' NeXTSTEP operating system, but which were removed from Mac OS X in order to preserve the look and feel of the original Mac UI.



    It's not just NeXTSTEP that had that, Windows has had it for donkeys years, and I would go so far as to say this is probably the only thing Windows has, that I wanted brought to the Mac! Seems like a trivial thing, but when you have to use a PC and a Mac on a day to day basis, it's surprising how irritating not having it on the Mac is.
  • Reply 16 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post


    It's not just NeXTSTEP that had that, Windows has had it for donkeys years, and I would go so far as to say this is probably the only thing Windows has, that I wanted brought to the Mac! Seems like a trivial thing, but when you have to use a PC and a Mac on a day to day basis, it's surprising how irritating not having it on the Mac is.



    Agreed...and the video was ridiculous how long they spent demonstrating it...I think I get it, you can resize from anywhere on the edge.



    Other features look very cool though.
  • Reply 17 of 127
    tony1tony1 Posts: 258member
    I like SL, but then again I liked Leo before that and so on. I'm always looking forward to what they come up with next, but to tell you the truth most of it seems to be eye candy that I play with for a week or so and then realize the work piling up on my desk, so I tend to forget most of it. I guess what sticks is what helps me get my work done easier/faster, yet everyone's different. I'm not sure where fluid windows will help me, but still looking for to the surprises of Lion.
  • Reply 18 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stokessd View Post


    Hidden scrollbars and some of these other "new features" violate apple's own human interface Guidlines. One of the important ones is not to hide controls. I totally understand why they do it on a small screen like the iPhone, but for big screens it doesn't make sense.



    Full screen apps? What's next MDI?



    Sheldon



    I think the justification is that with with trackpads being so excellent and magic mice and most generic mice having good scrollers integrated into them, the scroll bars are no longer considered a primary 'control'; they are more of guide for the user to know where they are in a stream of data. If you want to use them, they stay on the screen for a few seconds before they disappear and as has been said, you can stick with the current system if you prefer it.



    I think it's an improvement but it's not huge. Many of these new features are minor, but collectively could really make a nice impact on the user experience. I just hope there are more significant changes under the hood because these front end things aren't huge. It's testament to how good Leopard and Snow Leopard are that there is only minor refinement needed.



    All that I want to know before I buy my copy in the summer is will we have the driver problem that Snow Leopard suffered a little at launch? My music interface wasn't officially supported in Snow Leopard for months and months and it wasn't an obscure model.
  • Reply 19 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mister Snitch View Post


    It's good to see so much thought going into this. Most companies would declare their user interface a 'solved problem', and let it go at that.



    Not only that, but Apple has maintained the Human Interface Guidelines (HIG), and expanded on them. Instead of saying iOS is different and we need to start over, Apple is extending the guidelines developed for the first Mac. OS X brought about major changes, but the core of HIG remained. iOS is no different.



    Contrary to what stokessd has said, the guidelines haven't changed, they have evolved. And contrary for those looking for a revolution rather than an evolution: When it comes to HIG, evolution is good. The fact that so many ideas from 1984 are still relevant today, is a testament to how smart Apple is. Plus, I've been able to adopt the HIG in the Windows world to make it a little nicer. Resiliance, adaptability, extendibility, HIG has stood the test of time.
  • Reply 20 of 127
    tony1tony1 Posts: 258member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rockarollr View Post


    Reverting the buttons to a horizontal layout can easily be done. With iTunes not running, open Terminal and enter the following code:



    defaults write com.apple.iTunes full-window -1



    To restore the vertical layout, simply use this command:



    defaults write com.apple.iTunes full-window -0



    (Courtesy of Macworld.com)



    or



    Go here where it'll also show you how to get your colors back:

    http://www.macthemes.net/forum/viewt...d=16805795&p=1.



    I changed my traffic lights to horiz, but did not like it, seemed to squashed in. I also changed the categories back to the colored ones which I like much better.



    I forget how I went about it since it's been a while, but that should get you there.
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