So I got the opportunity to play around with Lion yesterday. In case you missed all the press Lion is the new version of OSX expected to be available for sale this summer. A developer’s beta was released about two weeks ago. I think most of the features have been reported at various blogs. Also YouTube has up a surprising number of videos of Lion in action. Short story about my experience: I love it. I think it’s a huge update. Some people have been upset about the appearance of Lion but when you actually use it everything feels surprisingly intuitive. Much more so than I expected. A lot of the UI is lifted from iOS devices like the iPhone or iPad. But it’s surprising how well it works on a laptop. Gestures really quickly become natural.
The one big downside is how absolutely horrible Lion’s Address book is. They tried to mimic the appearance of a book, much like the iPad’s address book. There really was no good reason for this. But what’s worse is that they limited functionality making what was already Apple’s weakest application significantly worse. Check out the YouTube video below to see Address Book in action.
Now compare it to the traditional three pane appearance from Snow Leopard.
Just looking at the difference gives you a bit of a clue as to how big a step back this is. However you actually have to try using it to really realize just how bad it is. Why on earth they didn’t want you to be able to see a three pane view escapes me. However if you are trying to decide what address cards to move into an other group it really helps if you can actually see the card’s data. As is you will have to click the red ribbon (what?) to see groups. So you’ll constantly be switching between views. Ugh.
I could somewhat understand not adding pro features that many have been clamoring for. I mean maybe I could see thinking that something simple like seeing all the emails or iCal tasks associated with a particular person in the address book might be confusing to casual users. (Although honestly, wouldn’t that be simple to put in a menu out of sight of casual users?) I just can’t fathom why on earth they had to make it look like a traditional paper and pencil address book. Let alone limit it to the same abilities.
Please, I beg of anyone who has a developer’s account to file a bug asking for the traditional three pane view to at least be an option. (The classic view is an option in Mail because Apple recognized that power users need those extra features)
Edit: I discovered a post at MacRumors which says the option for the classic view is available in the Debug menu. However while that’s great for folks like us who enable such things, it really should be a formal option in the Preference Pane.