Unified OS Advocates Are Out Of “Touch” With Reality

Last week, Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi and Bud Tribble were interviewed as part of the Mac’s 30th anniversary. They — in no uncertain terms — slammed the door shut on the idea that Apple was planning on merging iOS (the operating system for their phones and tablets) with OS X (the operating system for their notebooks and desktops).

“We don’t waste time thinking, ‘But it should be one [interface]!’ How do you make these [operating systems] merge together?’ What a waste of energy that would be,” Schiller said.

“To say [OS X and iOS] should be the same, independent of their purpose? Let’s just converge, for the sake of convergence? [It’s] absolutely a nongoal,” Federighi said.

“And that”, I thought to myself, “finally puts an end to that discussion.”

Boy, was I wrong.

The Loyal Opposition

Brian S. Hall makes an impassioned case for operating system unification, right here at Tech.Pinions:

I want my various “computers”…to essentially operate as similarly as possible, preferably with a unified user interface and application set across all.

It’s troubling to me that the world’s biggest computer company (Apple) can’t seem to make this work. When I hear Apple execs mocking Microsoft’s UI strategy I think it’s an opportunity lost.

(I)t bothers me that it is Apple which seems so determined to accept multiple OSes across multiple form factors. Here’s a case, frankly, where I hope Microsoft wins.

Kyle Russell, of Business Insider, reviews the various operating system comments made by the Apple executives and comes to a similar conclusion, here:

As much as a well-executed touchscreen MacBook could make for an amazing device — maybe even “redefine laptop computing” — it seems that Apple doesn’t want people to get caught up on the idea, even if it is true.

(Emphasis added)

Do you fully grasp what both of these commentators are implying? It’s not, they contend, that Apple CANNOT create a unified operating system, it’s simply that Apple REFUSES to do so. If only Apple would not be so gol’ darn stubborn and get on the unified operating system bandwagon, Apple could not only make a device that would run on a unified operating system but they could make a unified device that would be totally AWESOME!

Bull hockey

[pullquote]A word to the wise is infuriating. ~ Unknown Source[/pullquote]

I VEHEMENTLY disagree. Operating system unification is not a “lost opportunity.” It’s not an “opportunity” at all. It’s a disaster because A TOUCH OPERATING SYSTEM IS WHOLLY INCOMPATIBLE WITH A DESKTOP OPERATING SYSTEM.

We have at least the courage of our convictions to say we don’t think this is part of what makes a great product; we’re going to leave it out. Some people are going to not like that… ~ Steve Jobs

The Interview

Metaphors Matter

“An incredible amount of thought and creativity went into the original Mac metaphor,” Tribble said.

A Tool Should Work The Way We Think, Not Make Us Think About The Way It Works

(T)he underlying principles behind them—that the Mac should be easily approachable and learnable by just looking at it, that it should bend to the will of the person and not bend the person’s will to the technology—those underlying threads also apply to our other products.

One Size Does Not Fit All

And I think what we are focused on is delivering the tailored, optimal experience for those kinds of ways that you work, without trying to take a one-size-fits-all solution to it.

No Touch Screens on Notebooks or Desktops

“It’s obvious and easy enough to slap a touchscreen on a piece of hardware, but is that a good experience?” Federighi said. “We believe, no.” ((Dr. Drang (@drdrang) has a thoughtful essay, here, on why touch screens WOULD work on notebooks and desktops. MY TAKE: This issue confused me for a while. It was clear to me that the input methods for notebooks and desktops were, and should remain, distinct from those of phones and tablets. On the other hand, it was also clear that phones and tablets were training us all to touch our computing screens. Ultimately, I concluded that metaphor mattered most. Using touch on a machine designed for a desktop metaphor only works SOME of the time and would ultimately cause confusion in the user’s mind. Better to make a clean break and have users to gestures on a touchpad, instead.))

The Personal Computer Has Been Honed To Work With A Keyboard And Mice; The Tablet Has Been Honed To Work With Your Finger

“This device,” Federighi said, pointing at a MacBook Air screen, “has been honed over 30 years to be optimal” for keyboards and mice. Schiller and Federighi both made clear that Apple believes that competitors who try to attach a touchscreen to a PC or a clamshell keyboard onto a tablet are barking up the wrong tree.

“The reason OS X has a different interface than iOS isn’t because one came after the other or because this one’s old and this one’s new,” Federighi said. Instead, it’s because using a mouse and keyboard just isn’t the same as tapping with your finger.”

The Metaphysics

Aristotle drew a distinction between essential and accidental properties. The way he put it is that essential properties are those without which a thing wouldn’t be what it is, and accidental properties are those that determine how a thing is, but not what it is.

Touch is ACCIDENTAL to a Personal Computer. It may enhance its usefulness but it doesn’t change the essence of what it is. Touch is ESSENTIAL to a Tablet. It’s the essence of what it is.

Pixel specific input is ANATHEMA to a Tablet. It destroys its very essence. A Touch device can literally not work with pixel sized input targets. But pixel specific input is ESSENTIAL to a Personal Computer. A Personal Computer can literally not operate without it.

A touch input metaphor and a pixel input metaphor not only should be, but MUST be, wholly different and wholly incompatible with one another. It’s not just that they do not comfortably co-exist within one form factor, it’s also that they do not comfortably co-exist within our minds eye.

In plain words, it’s no accident that the operating systems for tablets and notebooks are distinctly different from one another. On the contrary, their differences — their incompatibilities — are the essence of what makes them what they are.

Motorcycle-Motorcar ((Why Motorcar instead of car or automobile? Because I like alliteration, that’s why.)) Metaphor

A car and a motorcycle are both motor vehicles but they employ two very different user interfaces.

On a car:
— You use your left hand to steer;
— You use your right hand to shift gears; ((At least, you did before automatic transmissions came into vogue.))
— You use your right foot to accelerate and brake; and
— You use your left foot to keep time with the radio.

On a motorcycle:
— You use your left hand to work the clutch;
— You use your left foot to shift the gears;
— You use your right hand to work the front wheel brake; and
— You use your right foot to work the back wheel brake.

[pullquote]The mythical unified operating system is an insoluble problem, masquerading as a great good.[/pullquote]

You could put a hand brake on a car or a steering wheel on a motorcycle or a foot clutch on a car or a stick shift on a motorcycle — but none of those additions would make much sense. All would be confusing and most would be dangerous as all get out.

Unifying the features of a motorcycle and a car or a tablet and a desktop is not the goal. User understanding and usability IS the goal.

The Theory In Practice

That’s the theory. So what’s the reality?

Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play. ~ Kant

The Tablet — Sans Desktop Interface — Is A Runaway Success

The iPad — and all the derivative tablets within the Android operating system — have only one operating system and only one input (touch) and they are fantastically successful.

By the end of 2014 the install base of tablets will be just over half that of PCs. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

Take a deep breath and re-read that again. It only took FOUR YEARS for install base of tablets to reach half of that of Personal Computers!


If the tablet is only half-a loaf — if the unified operating system is the Holy Grail of computing — then why has the tablet been SO successful and why has Microsoft’s 2-in-1 effort been such an abject failure?

The failure of Apple critics is not that they don’t understand that Apple’s iPad/iPhone are selling. It is that they don’t understand why. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)


The Surface 2-In-1 Approach Is A Train Wreck

Design makes what is complex feel simpler, and makes what is simpler feel richer.

[pullquote]Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is as pure as the driven slush.[/pullquote]

Ask yourself this question: “Is Windows 8’s 2-in-1 user interface simpler?” Heck no, Why, Microsoft can’t even get their own flagship apps to work well on Windows 8.

I’m really not sure that there’s a worse app to use with Windows 8 tablets than Outlook. The idea that MS thinks this is acceptable is crazy. ~ Ian Betteridge (@ianbetteridge)

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad in 2010, he asked “Is there room for a third category of device (between the phone and the notebook)?” Now Microsoft is trying to introduce yet another category between the tablet and the notebook. If it is to succeed, then it must pass the same litmus test that Steve Jobs proposed for the iPad:

The bar’s pretty high. In order to really create a new category of devices, those devices are going to have to be far better at doing some key tasks. Better than a laptop. Better than a smartphone. (Author’s note: And better than a tablet.)

[pullquote]You can’t sit on two horses with one behind. ~ Yiddish proverb[/pullquote]

Now let me ask you this: What tasks is the Surface FAR better at?

The Surface, which is the embodiment of combining two operating systems into one, has failed and failed miserably.


It turns out that Apple had long-ago asked — and long-ago definitively answered — the question of whether they would be combining a tablet with a notebook. And that answer was “Yes”:

QUESTION: “What would happen if a MacBook met an iPad?”

ANSWER: The MacBook Air. ((New MacBook Air announcement))

[pullquote]Microsofts strategy and products will appeal to millions while Google and Apple’s will appeal to billions. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)[/pullquote]

Tablet and notebook interfaces are not combining because it simply won’t work. Great products are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather, by the presence of clear strengths.

In 2007, when the iPhone was introduced, Steve Jobs famously said:

(A)re you getting it? These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.

When it comes to phones, tablets and notebook/desktops, we can reverse that and paraphrase Steve Jobs by saying:

Are you getting it? This is not one device. These are three separate devices, and we’re calling them the smartphone, tablet and notebook/desktop.

Phil Schiller put it this way:

“It’s not an either/or,” Schiller said. “It’s a world where you’re going to have a phone, a tablet, a computer, you don’t have to choose. And so what’s more important is how you seamlessly move between them all…. It’s not like this is a laptop person and that’s a tablet person. It doesn’t have to be that way.”


Wise men profit more from fools than fools from wise men; for the wise men shun the mistakes of fools, but fools do not imitate the successes of the wise. ~ Cato the Elder

[pullquote]It is hard to get to the summit, harder to stay on it, but hardest to come down. ~ Aleksander Fredro[/pullquote]

Apple showed Microsoft the way to do tablets right, but Microsoft refused to follow Apple’s example because they knew that it would mean the end of their existing Window’s monopoly.

Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Microsoft thinks they’re in the Windows business. They’ve forgotten their mission, their purpose. They’ve forgotten that they’re in the computing business.

ctrl-alt-delMicrosoft should Control-Alt-Delete their attempts at a unified operating system, but I don’t think there’s any chance that that will happen. Based on the statements coming out of Redmond, Microsoft is doubling-down on their current strategy which, in my opinion, is a tragic mistake. Besides, asking Microsoft to fix what’s wrong with Windows 8 is like making them the detective in a crime movie where they’re also the murderer.

Yogi Berra once famously said:

It’s not over until it’s over.

It’s over.

The Apple Ecosystem Just Got Stronger

Apple today at their World Wide Developers Conference released a number of things that have made their ecosystem even stronger. I am of the opinion that one of the best ways to analyze computing platforms is to look at them as ecosystems. When consumers purchase a personal computer like a desktop, notebook, tablet or smartphone, whether they know it or not they are investing into an ecosystem.

Related Column: It’s All About Ecosystems

Not too long ago computing platforms were islands unto themselves. Each product stood on its own and wasn’t connected to other devices in a meaningful way. But now that consumers are purchasing more and more computing products they began to demand that their devices begin to work seamlessly together for a more fulfilling experience. This demand has led to the birth of more holistic computing ecosystems. And interestingly software companies who offer platform software for desktops / notebooks, tablets, and smartphones are the companies building the most robust ecosystems on the market and right now only Apple and Microsoft fit that bill. Today Apple with the release of new and updated Mac hardware and software and the release of their newest mobile operating system iOS 6 just strengthened their ecosystem all together.

It all revolves around iCloud

Tim Cook said something that made perfect sense to an Apple observer like me. He said that iCloud isn’t just a product, it’s a strategy for the next decade. With that fundamental point in mind it becomes easy to see why Apple is integrating so iCloud into the core of their OSX and iOS software. iCloud is the glue that holds all of Apple’s hardware and software together. Take for example some simple features they have added with the newest Safari.

It may seem small but this little thing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value of Apple’s ecosystem. Imagine you use a notebook, tablet, and smartphone regularly. In the usage of all three of those products it would seem logical that you would browse the web frequently on each of them. Now what if you where on the couch looking for a recipe and you wanted to view that very same recipe on your tablet or smartphone. Most people would either have to re-search for that recipe on the other device or you could email yourself the link. With the latest version of Safari for OSX Mountain Lion every single web page you have open as a tab is available to you on any of your OSX or iOS devices. So if I want to look at a web page I have open on my Mac from my iPad, I simply click the new iCloud tabs button on the top of Safari and all the same tabs open on my Mac are available for me on my iPad or iPhone.

This seems like something small but it is extremely useful and demonstrates the value of iCloud integration across hardware and software to create a consistent and useful experience. This is just one of many new features and advancements Apple is making through software to better delight their customers by solving current and future problems.

The Vertical Advantage

The tight integration of software innovations with specific hardware innovations all around a service like iCloud is easier when you control all the moving parts. I have emphasized this time and time again but it is this fundamental point that gives Apple such an advantage. The Apple ecosystem has no external variables. Apple doesn’t need the support of hardware or software partners in order to advance their ecosystem. This point can not be stressed enough.

It is because of this vertical advantage that Apple can annually release a unified launch of new hardware and new software all designed to work better together. And it is this better together that creates the fundamentals of the Apple ecosystem, which just got stronger.

Making The Devices We Know and Love Better

The last key point about the strength of the Apple ecosystem is that with this latest software for Mac, iPhone, and iPad, Apple has made the experience even better. I would contend that many of the devices we know and love have become even more useful. Now many may argue that some of the new features released are available on other devices or platforms. That is all fine and good for customers of other platforms but the bottom line is I and hundreds of millions of other people have invested in Apple’s ecosystem when it comes to my personal computing needs. So for me the fact that Apple has developed new features to make my experience with their hardware even better is most welcomed.

At the end of the day it is those features that add to our experience, make these products easier to use, and more importantly make using these products in our daily lives that much better. It is the small things like being able to ignore an incoming call with a text message or reminder to call the person back is extremely useful. The improved maps and elegant navigation is also a welcomed additional improvement. Perhaps the biggest improvement of all is the major upgrade to Siri.

All of these things and more are focused on one singular thing, making the devices we know and love better and more useful. Apple is continuing to make their hardware more functional every year. I am not sure it is possible to say that any other company is delivering their customer base new and improved features and functionality to all their hardware on an annual basis.

This is just one more thing adding to the already strong Apple ecosystem and it will be very interesting to see how the competition responds.

Don’t Miss OS X Mountain Lion’s Potential in China

Many in the media who got an early preview of Apple’s new Mac OS Mountain Lion are notably excited about a range of features. I point out a few of them in my article sharing my experience with the developer preview. Given that much of the mainstream media, or at least the sites that get the most publicity, are not based in China it will be somewhat easy to not focus on the China specific features built into Mac OS X Mountain Lion. China is a significant growth area for Apple and the improvements made for China should not be missed. Here are some of those features.

Late last year I saw a survey from Morgan Stanley that looked specifically at the PC market in China. Now by PC they mean a clamshell notebook or desktop form factor. Based on Morgan Stanley’s survey of Chinese consumers, here are the data points that stood out to me.

— Consumers in tier 1-3 cities and enterprises are key to China’s PC growth. 45% of tier 1-3 residents plan to buy a PC in the next three years vs. 36% in tier 4-6 cities. Just over half of PC owners live in tier 1-3 cities and the rest in tier 4-6. Large enterprises plan to grow 2011 IT budgets by 10%, outpacing SMBs at 2%, and spend 37% of their budgets on hardware.

— Consumer PC purchasing behavior in China is similar to developed markets in several ways. Our survey suggests Chinese consumers (9% of global units) spent $700 on their current PC, same as the US. Encouragingly, consumers in China plan to spend 6% more on their next PC and half of them plan to upgrade to a new PC in the next two years (four-year cycle).

— Our survey suggests one in five consumers want to purchase a Mac as their next PC, four times Apple’s 5% share today. However, Apple’s share gains in the near term are likely limited to the 7% of respondents who are willing to pay over $1,100 for a PC. In the long-term, as Chinese consumers become more affluent, we believe Apple could see further share gains as it is the most desirable brand, according to survey respondents.

— Apple stands out as the strongest consumer PC brand, but it may take time to monetize its growth potentials. Chinese consumers rate Apple as the most desirable PC brand well before

When you look at that data, it becomes clear that Apple has been well positioned to succeed in China. When you look at the improvements Apple made specifically for Chinese customers with OS X Mountain Lion, you can argue that the case for the Mac in China is stronger than ever.

The data from the Morgan Stanley survey points out the need for affordability with Mac hardware to come down and that is true as still only a small amount of Chinese consumers are what should be considered “affluent.” So price will be somewhat of an issue in that region but you have to also consider a brand and aspirational purchases which sometimes trump affordability or cheap. Chinese customers are very brand centric and prefer items with high brand appeal. For that I would contend that if Chinese customers have to save a few more months to get a Mac, I am willing to bet a large percentage will.

Also, iPad and iPhone are hot in that region–and cost less than the Mac. This again will make the case for the Apple ecosystem in China. All of Apple’s products help sell the others. Once you get one you most likely want them all, or at least more. iCloud’s tight integration with OS X Mountain Lion will make the ecosystem even that much stronger in every region.

Lastly, it is important to point out is that all of these specific features for the Chinese market will increasingly become a key differentiator for the Mac in that market. Compared to other “PCs” in that region these new OS X features and more will make the Mac highly differentiated in China. This also sends two messages. The first that Apple is very serious and committed to China. The second is that Apple is telling Chinese customers that they are interested in innovating uniquely for them.

My Experience With The OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview

Apple is on pace to bring a new OS X release on an annual cadence. They released today the first bit of information as a developer preview for their latest OS X release called Mountain Lion.

The big story around Mountain Lion is iCloud. Apple, with Mountain Lion, has taken another step in tightly integrating iCloud into OS X the same way iCloud is tightly integrated into iOS 5. This is key because when OS X Lion came out last year iCloud was not yet released. iCloud is becoming the glue which ties all your Apple products together and with Mountain Lion that glue is coming to OS X.

The other key takeaway beyond iCloud is that OS X Mountain Lion brings many of the primary apps and iOS 5 experiences to the Mac platform. Things like Notifications, Notes, Reminders, iMessages, Game Center, Twitter and other quick share features, along with many more. Although this is an early developer preview, I am guessing there are a few surprises with Mountain Lion up Apple’s sleeve.

I have had the privilege of using an early beta release of the developer preview of Mountain Lion for a little while now and I want to share my experience with this latest release. Keeping in mind the software is still in beta yet it is a VERY solid Beta.

There are three key experiences I want to share along with one final point that should not be missed about OS X Mountain Lion and China.

I do a lot of texting. Other than email, texting is one of my primary forms of communications with a range of people in both my work and personal life. Having iMessage on my Mac has been a profound experience.

Perhaps this is because it feels as if it is the union of two things near and dear to me, Instant messaging and texting. From about 1998 to 2004 I used AOL Instant Messenger heavily. iMessage is like the union of texting and AIM and it is bliss for those deeply committed to the Apple ecosystem.

When someone texts me, the ability to quickly respond without having to pick up my iPhone or iPad is terrific. Primarily because when I am on my Mac I am generally writing a column or an in-depth analysis for a client. Responding to a message with iMessage on the Mac allows me to quickly respond and get back to what I was working on without fundamentally disrupting my work flow. This is probably the case because I am a part of the multi-tasking ADD generation and this was something I used to do with AIM as a part of my work flow. Also having all my message threads in sync across my Mac, iPhone, and iPad is tremendous as well. Basically I can pick up whatever device is most convenient at the moment to respond with and my conversation threads are always in sync.

iMessages on the Mac is something I have wanted since I started using it on the iPhone. I am glad Apple agreed.

Next up is how useful notifications on OS X truly is. Notifications were one of the features I was most excited about with iOS 5. Mostly because notifications are one of my favorite features with Android, but I don’t use an Android device as my primary phone for a variety of reasons related to personal preference. So this feature with iOS 5 was great for me as an Apple customer. Apple bringing notifications to OS X is equally exciting.

On this point, it is important to note that I have set my applications dock to hide and not stay visible all the time. Therefore having a “badge” show up on the application in the dock is not terribly useful for me. With that established, you can see why having a better notification for important things like email has always been a desire for me. In fact I have purchased at least three different third-party plug-ins for Mac Mail in order to notify me of email and many of them were more hassle than valuable.

While writing a column, analysis, creating a presentation, etc, being notified of new email from key contacts, as simple as it sounds, has been a great experience–and it works even while in full screen app mode.

AirPlay mirroring in iOS 5 was more valuable of a feature to me than I originally thought it would be–especially with the iPad. It turns out that I use AirPlay Mirroring from my iPad to my TV quite a bit. Whether it is playing a YouTube video, sharing photos from my iPad, playing a game, or sharing a website, I love moving content from my iPad to my TV. I wrote a column about that experience on how my iPad is taking over my TV.

Bringing this feature to the Mac opens up many new possibilities. For example, streaming TV shows from the web. Not all TV shows are available through things like Hulu+ or other network apps. However, nearly all network shows are available as a catch up TV solution through the web browser on a notebook or desktop. AirPlay Mirroring in OS X Mountain Lion will bring the full web in all its glory to your TV wirelessly. And in HD since OS X Mountain Lion AirPlay mirroring supports streaming 720p HD as well as resolution matching of your display to the TV.

Apple products are also invading the enterprise and corporate accounts in large numbers and this includes Mac products as well. I will bet that AirPlay Mirroring within OS X Mountain Lion is going to be a very handy feature for many conference rooms and work place settings.

Even creating Mac OS X apps that work in conjunction with your TV to give you a “two-screen” experience, similar to apps that do this on iOS, is exciting un-explored territory.

Don’t Miss Mountain Lions Impact to China

Lastly, I want to point out something that I think is very important. Because Apple so tightly controls not only the hardware they sell around the world but also the software, they are able to make very specific regional solutions as a part of their operating system. They have done just that by tightly integrating some incredibly useful features for the Chinese market.

A few key features for China:

  • Better suggestions: As you type, Mountain Lion offers more up-to-date and relevant candidates for words and phrases.
  • English and Chinese: You can now type English words in a Pinyin sentence without switching keyboards.
  • Better handwriting: Mountain Lion more than doubles the number of Chinese characters supported in handwriting recognition.
  • Autocorrection: If you enter Pinyin incorrectly, Mountain Lion suggests a likely candidate for the word you meant to type.
  • Fuzzy Pinyin: Mountain Lion adds support for Fuzzy Pinyin, which makes text input easier for users who type Pinyin with regional pronunciations.

Also full support for many popular services in China like Baidu search in Safari, Sina weibo, Youku, Tudou, is integrated right into Mountain Lion.

What is important to point out is that all of these specific features for the Chinese market will increasingly become a key differentiator for the Mac in that market. This also sends two messages. The first that Apple is very serious and committed to China. The second is that Apple is telling Chinese customers that they are interested in innovating uniquely for them.

Related: Don’t Miss OS X Mountain Lion’s Potential in China

Mountain Lion proves that Apple is still innovating specifically for the Mac. Yes the growth in iPhone, iPad and iOS is astonishing but the Mac remains an important part of the Apple ecosystem.

From what I have seen with the Mountain Lion developer preview, I see a myriad of things for Mac app developers to be excited about and many features consumers will find valuable.

The 13″ MacBook Air is the Perfect Notebook

I have used a lot of notebooks in my 11 years as an industry analyst of consumer technology products. In fact I have used nearly every type of design, form factor, performance, and screen size imagenable across notebooks and desktops. Because of that I am convinced that the 13″ MacBook Air is the perfect blend of everything required to be a great computer.

Prior to using the 13″ MacBook Air I used a 15″ MacBook Pro. In conjuction with that Notebook I also used last year’s 11″ MacBook Air. The primary reason for this was I wanted a notebook that was more travel friendly but I also wanted one with enough performance to handle the media processing I do.

After using the latest 13″ Air I have found it to be the perfect blend of portability and performance.


In my office I have a 27″ monitor that I hook my notebook up to when I am at my desk, making screen size when “docked” somewhat irrelevant. However, I move around a good deal as a part of my job. Whether it’s commuting to clients’ offices all around the Bay Area or traveling the country or the world my notebook is in my bag a lot. Because of that I used to travel with the 11″ Air.

Although extremely portable, arguably the most portable and powerful sub 12″ notebook, I still found the screen size a hinderence to long term use. It certainly sufficed in a lot of ways but I found myself desiring a slightly larger screen often.

The 13″ is the ideal size allowing for a larger screen experience without sacrificing portability.

I also found last years 11″ slightly underpowered when it came to the media processing that I do. I make a lot of HD videos of family and events and such so I need a certain level of performance or I will go insane. Apple says the new models are 2.5 times faster, but the 13″ model is faster still, and surpassed my expectations in handling video and audio processing.

The backlit keyboards are certainly nice but not all that necessary for me. The internal SD card reader is another feature the 13″ has over the 11″ that has been a very nice to have.

At the end of the day, the 11″ is “under-screened” for my needs and the 15″ Pro is just slightly to large for me to travel with comfortably. Fitting right in the middle, the 13″ Air is perfect.

Battery Life
Lastly i’ve been extremely impressed with the battery life of the MacBook Air line. Throughout the last year using the 11″ Air I was constantly shocked how long the battery would go. Especially with what I will consider general use.

It seemed as though I could shut the computer and leave it for a week then pick it up and nearly no battery had drained. I attribute most of this to a true state of “sleep” due to the solid state hard drive. It’s very similar to the iPad experience.

I don’t like to do battery benchmarks because there are so many usage variables. All I can say on the matter is that I can use it for a full day on a single charge. Granted this includes opening and closing my computer as I bounce around for meetings. I’m not sitting stationary working all day on a single charge.

In my opinion all that matters when it comes to battery life is that when you are mobile and not able to plug in you have enough battery to work. In that regard the 13″ Air delivers.

I’ll say it again. The 13″ MacBook Air is the Perfect Notebook.

My 5 Favorite New Features in OSX Lion

After spending some time working with Apple’s new operating system OSX Lion, I’ve landed on my top five favorite new features. Now granted, everyone uses computers differently. So for me and my computing habits these are the ones that lie at the heart of my upgraded experience.

Auto Correct

There are actually a number of very good new features for writing and typing. My personal favorite is a new and improved auto-correction feature that, like iOS, will fix a misspelled word or typo for you as you type.

Once a word is fixed a blue dotted line appears just under the corrected word to let you know it was fixed. This allows you to go back and edit the word if the in line edit was not what you wanted.

I type and write quite a bit and not having to backspace several times every sentence is extremely useful. Now that I have adjusted to the improved auto correction feature, I feel as though I can type more freely and clearly.

One other feature around text that I am coming to appreciate is the built in dictionary and contextual word search. You can highlight any word you see and right click with a mouse or triple tap on the trackpad to bring up a dictionary as well as contextual word search and wikipedia of the word.


I use spotlight for nearly everything. I do not have a very organized desktop nor do I organize my files very well so Spotlight saves me a huge amount of time. Primarily because although I don’t know where my files are most of the time I do remember the files name. I use Spotlight for more than just files but for programs as well.

The biggest edition to Spotlight that I absolutely love is called Quick Look Results. What this does is allow you to mouse over any of the Spotlight results and to the left of the Spotlight results drop down appears a quick view preview of the actual file. This way if you have multiple files similarly named or just want to make sure the result is the exact file you were looking for you can now see a quick preview before opening.

Another edition to Spotlight that i’m finding quite useful is the ability to drag and drop the file anywhere on your computer right from the Finder results.


I am a big Mail user and I have been for quite some time. I never could get used to Microsoft Entourage and even when they launched Outlook for Mac I still preferred Mail. Threaded messages, smart folders, integration with iCal and more were what had me hooked. So naturally I was quite pleased with many of the upgrades to Mail.

The upgrades to Mail’s search capabilities have to be my favorite new feature. Like my needs to search for files often with Spotlight, I also need to search for emails frequently. I don’t always remember the details of who a specific message is from, I only vaguely remember important things. The last upgrade Apple made to Mail helped be a good bit in this department but the latest upgrade to search has made it even faster and less work to find the email desired.

This is because of an advanced filtering process called search tokens. Search tokens let you filter your search down each step of the way and quickly narrows any and all search results until voila, you find exactly what you are looking for.

I’ve used the threaded messages options in Mail but the newest feature Conversations takes it to a whole new level. This has been fantastic because I tend to have very long conversations through email. By being able to see all the conversations organized and threaded in the same window pane has been a joy to use.

Mission Control

When Apple added Expose to OSX I became an Expose junkie. I keep many applications open frequently and I multi-task jumping between them all just as frequently. Expose drastically improved my work flow efficiency. Mission Control is the next step is multi-tasking efficiency and it certainly lives up to its name. I particularly like how Mission Control organizes all your applications and keep your desktop, dashboard and other workspaces at the top of the screen always accessible.

One of the more enhanced elements of Mission Control that is not possible with Expose is the laying of windows on top of applications. If you have multiple windows open from the same application, Mission Control layers the images on top of each other and allows you to select which you are trying to get to.

Auto Save and Application Resume

Most modern applications have some level of document recovery but Auto Save in OSX Lion makes the process standard. Not having to worry about whether or not a document is saved or work is going to get lost certainly eliminates some of the distraction to work efficiently.

Application resume is another great feature that is built into OSX Lion. This features lets you close an application and upon re-opening you are right where you left off. One of the areas where this is particularly useful is with Safari. I like to leave tabs open with some of my most frequented websites and being able to open Safari and have all my tabs re-open with my favorite websites or the last ones open has been extremely useful.

I’m sure as I use Lion more I will find more features that I love but for now those are my top 5. I’d be curious what those who have Lion think and what your top 5 new features are?