Thanks to my new employer, Ning, I am in possession of my first Apple computer. After spending my first week with a shiny new MacBook Pro and OS X, I thought I would jot down some notes about my experience.
There are several things that I am sure have affected my expectations, likes, and dislikes. I am not your average computer user. Being a software developer, I believe I fit into the category of “power user.” For the past two years, I have been primarily using Ubuntu as my operating system, but I come from a long history of Windows usage (and continue to use it when absolutely necessary).
The MacBook Pro
Package and Product Design
Apple’s package design blows me away. It was almost enough to make me stop removing the product, but the MacBook Pro inside was too sexy to keep wrapped up. The exterior of the MacBook Pro looks and feels durable. I have always been afraid of snapping a laptop in half when picking it up by one corner, but not this thing. It looks like a smooth slab of metal, but weighs next to nothing. I drag it with me to every meeting.
Attention to Detail
Apple’s attention to detail is astounding, especially when it comes to the power plug. I know. You are thinking, “It’s just a power plug. So what?” Instead of the plug snapping into the laptop, it is magnetic. This makes it easier to plug in and stay plugged in, but is not as disastrous when you decide to run away with your laptop while it is still plugged in. Also, the plug is symmetrical. You can plug it in upside-down or right-side up. Both sides have a light to indicate the power status (charging, charged, etc.). This also means that you can see the power status while the laptop is closed. Each of these things probably go unnoticed by many people, but that is kind of the point. It is just easy.
I was quite pleased to find that almost every application I use is already available for OS X (Firefox, Eclipse, KeePassX), or there is a viable alternative (Pidgin/Adium). This probably has something to do with the fact that I have been using Ubuntu for the past couple of years, so I have disconnected myself from Windows-only software.
Application installation has been the most disappointing part of my experience. At first, I had no idea what to do with a .dmg file. I assumed what I was doing was wrong, so I did my due diligence and researched it a bit. Apparently you are supposed to mount the .dmg file, drag-and-drop the application into the Applications directory, and then you can safely unmount and delete the .dmg file. This is hardly intuitive. Many applications display a UI with the application file and Applications directory when the .dmg file is mounted, but it varies from application to application. Maybe I have been spoiled by Ubuntu’s package manager, but I would argue that installing most Windows applications is far more user-friendly.
Multi-touch is best new feature that I have encountered. My problem was that I never bothered researching the various ways to interact using multi-touch, so it was three days before I realized you could trigger a secondary click by pressing two fingers at once. Clicking and dragging is much more intuitive using multi-touch, as is zooming and scrolling. I have owned an iPod Touch for two years, but interacting with a full-blown OS in this way is amazing.
Differences between OS X, Ubuntu, and Windows
What happened to my home and end keys, and do I really need control, alt/option, and command? These are things I will cope with over time, but they are causing me much pain for now. Also, pressing print screen is much easier than command + control + shift + 3. I was not going to figure that one out by myself.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with the MacBook Pro and OS X. I have already been discussing getting the Mrs. a MacBook since her HP laptop committed digital suicide several months ago.