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Lion OS

Apple Notes By Mike Watkinson

Apple have just released their latest OS upgrade, Lion. So just how wild is the beast?

Apple's new big cat, Lion, is now well and truly amongst us, and at £20.99$29.99 from the Mac App Store, the temptation to download and install is great, but what do you get out of it? Let's take a look at some of Lion's enticing new features:

  • Scrolling has been supplemented by the equivalent of swiping. So when you move your finger across the surface of a Mighty Mouse or Magic Trackpad the window's content will now move in the same direction as your finger (and opposite to what happens with traditional scrolling!) If this behaviour is unacceptable (say, for example, if you don't use iOS devices), you can turn off 'natural scrolling' by going to System Preferences/Mouse/Point‑and‑Click. The default behaviour for scroll bars in Lion is that they disappear when scrolling is not taking place, reflecting their diminished significance. However, this doesn't happen in Logic Pro — whatever System Preference is ticked — where the scroll bars, thankfully, retain their traditional look and feel, as they also have the function of zooming in both horizontally and vertically. If you're not used to the iOS way of scrolling and swiping, you can change this functionality in the System Preferences. Bear in mind, though, that this won't affect what happens in Logic Pro, which needs specific functionality to zoom in and out.If you're not used to the iOS way of scrolling and swiping, you can change this functionality in the System Preferences. Bear in mind, though, that this won't affect what happens in Logic Pro, which needs specific functionality to zoom in and out.
  • Mission Control lets you create 'Desktops' (which used to be called 'Spaces') and 'Stacks', which group currently open windows by application.
  • Full-screen mode allows applications to use all available screen space, reducing distraction from things like the menu bar and dock. Logic Pro 9.1.5 is full‑screen 'aware', though you do lose sight of the menus and the toolbar, both of which are basic requirements!
  • Auto Save allows applications to create and save incremental backups whenever you pause working on them, all stored as part of a single file. You can then choose to 'Browse All Versions' from the drop‑down menu to the right of the file name in the window's title bar, in a Time Machine‑style interface. Older versions can be restored, and content can be copied and pasted from old to new versions. Sounds great, but it is only available in applications that have been recoded to take advantage of this feature; Logic Pro has its own autosave feature already, of course. Lion's Auto Save feature allows applications to save incremental backups, which can then easily be browsed.Lion's Auto Save feature allows applications to save incremental backups, which can then easily be browsed.

Musicians keen to embrace the bleeding edge might be tempted to brave the teeth of the Lion but, as with any major upgrade (and moving from 10.6 to 10.7 is certainly a more significant step than 10.5 to 10.6), caution is advised. Firstly, make doubly sure you are fully backed up in case you need to restore your previous system; the forums are full of horror stories from people (who really should know better) who have upgraded only to find their tools of choice are no longer operational!

Compatibility

So what of software compatibility? Here's a quick rundown:

  • Logic Pro has been updated to version 9.1.5, which Apple state is fully compatible with Lion. Obviously, the main purpose of this update is so that Logic plays nicely with Lion, but it also finally fixes the behaviour of the 'Toggle Zoom' function (in case that's been keeping you up at night!).
  • MainStage requires updating to version 2.1.3.
  • Software Update also announces the availability of Pro Kit version 7, which is highly recommended for all pro apps users.
  • Just as the ink was drying on this copy, Avid announced Pro Tools version 9.0.5, which, while not fully qualified with Lion, adds what they call 'public beta support' for Lion for users of Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD, in addition to full qualification of both with Snow Leopard version 10.6.8.
  • Steinberg have released Cubase version 6.0.2, which they state is fully compatible with Lion.

Where you will run into problems is with some plug‑ins. Those legacy plug‑ins that required the Rosetta component under Snow Leopard will no longer function, as Rosetta is no longer provided with Lion (reminiscent of the time when 'Classic' was no longer provided with Mac OS X). Users of software such as Microsoft Office 2004 will also (finally) have to look for alternatives.

With Logic Pro running in 64‑bit mode, 32‑bit plug‑ins should still run under Logic's 32‑bit Bridge (falsely rumoured to be losing functionality under Lion) but, if they refuse to validate on the first time of running Logic Pro after updating, you will need to go to Logic's Audio Unit Manager window, highlight the offending plug‑ins and choose 'Reset and Rescan Selection'. If this doesn't work, you could try removing the relevant component file(s) from Macintosh HD/Library/Audio/Plug‑Ins/Components and reinstall using the latest versions from the manufacturer's web site, followed by the Reset and Rescan tip above.  

Published October 2011