Full Screen: My Favorite Feature
My favorite feature in Lion is, without a doubt, the ability to view apps in full screen. Most browsers offer this feature already (try pressing F11). It's great to be able to use it for other apps. The thing is, the borders of my Mac screen is cluttered with visual junk. I've got an army of icons on the right of my menu bar, for features I rarely use; I've got my dock tucked away on the left side of my screen with these microscopic icons that expand when I mouse over.
It's a significant amount of visual information, and frankly, for the vast majority of the time, it's just noise. I don't need access to all of that stuff when I'm trying to get something done. I want to be able to focus, and all that visual clutter just tempts me. Look at all the apps I've got running! Why don't I just pop over to my browser and see what's going on there? Look, it's Facebook! Here's someone I haven't seen in years! I wonder what they're up to?
And before I know it, I've completely lost track of what I was doing before. Now, with full screen, you can just focus on the app at hand. If you want any of those features, they are available just by running your cursor against the top or the sides or the bottom of the screen, and you are just a keystroke or a mouse click away from good old fashioned standard view, with your menu bars and docks and icons, icons, icons.
In this same spirit, Lion's overall visual style is much more muted. Gone is the lurid translucent eye candy, the scroll bars and window controls that look like Willy Wonka was hired to design the interface after he just finished his work on a new line of hard candies. The focus is now on what you are doing, not what an awesome looking operating system you have.
This was, I suspect, inspired by iOS, where your iPhone or iPad can only display one app at a time and you need to reach for the home button to switch to something else. I became quite attached to that approach on the iPad, and it's really the only way to go on a phone. Even iOS clutters the screen with a status bar across the top, so you can see what your signal strength is for Wifi, whether bluetooth is on, and of course, what time it is. So Lion's full screen mode is really superior, because everything is hidden, except for the app. It's gotten to the point where I find the standard view almost jarring, a riot of visual noise crying for my attention.