Mountain Lion. Clever?

Apple just announced the next version of (Mac) OS X: Mountain Lion. And they did so in an rather unusual fashion. Grubes has the scoop:

The recurring theme: Apple is fighting against cruft — inconsistencies and oddities that have accumulated over the years, which made sense at one point but no longer — like managing to-dos in iCal (because CalDAV was being used to sync them to a server) or notes in Mail (because IMAP was the syncing back-end). The changes and additions in Mountain Lion are in a consistent vein: making things simpler and more obvious, closer to how things should be rather than simply how they always have been.

But a lot of the chatter (chirping?) on Twitter concerns the name:

I “get” what Apple’s doing with the name. Mountain Lion (10.8, presumably) is to Lion (10.7) as Snow Leopard (10.6) was to Leopard (10.5): a refinement, a continuation of the same direction in OS X’s evolution as the version that preceded it.

But it is rather odd, if you think about the actual cat names involved, especially since a mountain lion is essentially the same thing as a cougar, also known as a puma or… a panther, which Apple already used as the “big cat” codename for Mac OS X 10.3 way back in 2003.

Beyond that, Lion always seemed like something Apple was building up to… the “king of the jungle.” That version 10.7 was named Lion seemed to suggest the “big cat” lineage, version 10.x of Apple’s Mac OS, and perhaps even the “X” (which is pronounced “ten” after all) was done. And here we have… Mountain Lion? A decisive step backwards in the awesomeness of the big cats. Heck, mountain lions have even been spotted here in Minnesota for crying out loud!

So… anyway… I think the point is: Apple is not taking this whole “big cat” thing too seriously, and neither should we. Mountain Lion looks pretty great. I can’t wait to try it out!

Update: After some research, it turns out Apple already used Puma, too, for 10.1. But as I recall, they didn’t start using the big cat codenames in marketing until 10.2, Jaguar. And I still have the Jaguar mousepad on my desk to prove it!

I kind of wish I didn’t notice things like this

I spend a lot of time with my Mac. In fact, I stare at my Mac’s screen for so much of the day that I have become intimately familiar with the nuances of Lucida Grande, the humanist sans-serif font that has been Apple’s default system font since the introduction of Mac OS X roughly a decade ago.

I’m not a huge fan of Lucida Grande, as I’m not a huge fan of humanist fonts in general. I prefer geometric fonts, even if they’re not as easy to read. I just prefer their mathematical precision because, well, I’m a geek. But I think the biggest reason I don’t love Lucida Grande is just that I’m sick of it. Even though it’s way better than Chicago (the original Mac system font) or Charcoal (the system font from Mac OS 8 and 9), I’ve just seen too much of it over the last 10 years. I want something new. The encroachment of iOS interface elements on the newly released Lion (Mac OS X 10.7) suggests I may be seeing even more of Helvetica Neue in the future, which is fine by me.

But in the meantime, we still have Lucida Grande. Lots and lots of Lucida Grande. And since I know it so well, I notice even the slightest change to it. For instance, I noticed immediately that something was… different… about the contextual menus in the latest version of iTunes, even if I couldn’t immediately put my finger on it:

It didn’t take too long though before I realized what it was. It’s ever so slightly smaller than the font in the contextual menus I’m used to seeing, including, unfortunately, those still present in the current version of the Finder:

The change is extremely subtle, but I like it.

Apparently the 10.7.1 update is out now. I’m sure I’ll begin downloading it within the hour. I’m not sure what changes it contains… but I suspect that despite my deepest desires, they will not include a 1-point reduction in the size of the Finder’s contextual menus.

Still, one can hope.