If you could choose only one word to describe Apple’s overarching design goal in its recent versions of OS X, there’s no doubt about what it would be: iPad. That’s right. In this software, Apple has gone about as far as it could go in trying to turn the Mac into an iPad.
Two things made the iPad the fastest-selling electronic gadget in history. First, it’s so simple. No overlapping windows; every app runs full screen. No Save command; everything is autosaved. No files or folders. No menus. All your apps are in one place, the Home screen. To beginners, technophobes, and even old-timers, the iPad’s software represents a refreshing decluttering of the modern computer.
The second huge iPad sales point is that multitouch screen. You operate the whole thing by touching or dragging your fingers on the glass. For example, you cycle through screens by swiping. You zoom out on a map, photo, or Web page by pinching two fingers. You rotate a photo by twisting two fingers, and so on.
So Apple thought, if simplicity and touch gestures made the iPad a megahit, why can’t we do the same for the Mac?
And it set out to bring as many of the iPad’s features and as much of its personality to your Mac as possible. Today’s OS X features like Full Screen mode, Auto Save, and Launchpad are total iPad rip-offs; if Apple hadn’t stolen these features from itself, it would surely be suing for copyright infringement. In Mountain Lion, even the app names became the same as what’s on iOS: Reminders, Notes, Notification Center, Game Center, and so on. And in Mavericks, iPad apps like iBooks and Maps make their way to the Mac, too.
Apple even brought over the whole multitouch thing to the Mac. No, you don’t touch the screen; you’d get screaming arm pain if you had to spend the day with your arm outstretched, manipulating tiny controls on a vertical surface three feet away. (The resulting ache actually has a name in the computer biz: gorilla arm.)
Instead, you use all those same iPad gestures and more, right on the surface of your laptop trackpad, Apple Magic Trackpad, or (if you have Apple’s Magic Mouse) the top surface of the mouse.
All of OS X’s big-ticket features are intended to work together. For example, suppose you’re looking at a document in full-screen view (feature #1). How are you supposed to switch to the next app? By swiping across the trackpad in the “next app” gesture (feature #2). Then you might pinch four fingers together to open Launchpad (feature #3) so you can open another program.
It’s a new way to work, for sure. And it’s optional. If it doesn’t float your boat, you can ignore all of it (full-screen, gestures, Launchpad, Auto Save). But you should at least make an informed decision—and this book should come in handy that way.
Truth is, Mavericks represents only a gentle continuation of the iPadization that began with OS X 10.7, known as Lion. Often in this book, you’ll read references to “Lion/Mountain Lion/Mavericks,” because they’re fundamentally the same software. Even so, there are enough nips, tucks, and improvements to justify the free Mavericks download you just enjoyed.