In July, Apple released its new operating system, Mac OS X Lion, and pulled a Frank Lloyd Wright. The architect would return to the homes he had designed and rearrange the furniture as he saw fit, often in the middle of the night. You like the piano there? Too bad, it has to go in the center of the room! Similarly, 1 million Apple users downloaded Lion the first day and noticed something odd when their computers restarted: Down was up, up was down. Apple had decreed that "natural scrolling" was the new standard, overturning 25 years of convention. This was more discomfiting than rearranging furniture. This was pulling out the chair as you were taking a seat.
With natural scrolling, a trackpad or a mouse wheel no longer follows the direction of the scrollbars. Rather, the pointer responds as if your finger were touching the screen. One reason Apple made the change is to integrate the way we interact with our iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. The secondary effect is to bind us more closely to the Apple way of computing. The trackpad is rapidly developing its own complicated sign language; I’m addicted to the two-finger swipe to flip between web pages. Using a Windows machine with a mouse suddenly feels very 1997.
OK. At least I know it’s not just me.
It didn’t take me that long to figure out that the scrolling in Lion mimicked scrolling on the iPhone and iPad, since a few of the other additions to Lioin were also ports from iOS. In fact, it got me wondering if at some point Mac computers will incorporate touchscreens, like the iPhone and iPad. If that’s the case, it’s probably a change that will make more sense further down the line, and since Apple knew they would have to introduce it anyway, and some people would hate it no matter when they rolled it out.
Unlike the author the Slate article, I didn’t find it all that bothersome. In fact, it took me a short while to get used to it. Now, I have to remind myself to use "normal scrolling" on my Windows machine at work.
I’m not surprised, however, that some Mac users don’t like the change, but at least there’s a way to turn it off.
I’ve decided to just leave it the way it is. After all, at this point the only time I use a Windows computer is at work, and even then I end up working on my MacBook Pro. I already have an iPhone, and will probably (finally) get an iPad soon. So, why not just get used to it?