Mac OS X Lion
Lion mines the previously unused capabilities of trackpads by refining finger gestures. Many gestures will seem
familiar to iPhone and iPad users, but Lion expands upon those with new three- and four-finger movements.
For example, swiping up with three fingers opens Mission Control, and swiping left or right switches between full-screen apps. A three-finger pinch plus thumb starts Launchpad, while spreading the same fingers apart presents your desktop. When you’re in an app with multiple open windows, a two-finger swipe down reveals all windows for toggling among them. Not only can you pinch with two fingers to zoom in and out in any window, a new two-finger tap lets you zoom in on a specific part of an image or web page.
Although these finger movements enable fluid navigation, you need to remember them. In addition, the default two-finger scrolling mode now defaults to mirror how iOS devices work, the opposite of normal Mac process. You can change this setting in Preferences.
Multitouch gestures on Windows 7 vary greatly based on the notebook and which company makes the touchpad. For our tests, we used a Synaptics ClickPad. In general, two-finger scrolling worked well, but pinch-to-zoom wasn’t as smooth on most Windows machines as it is on Macs. Three-finger flicking through photos was also hit or miss. However, assigning a shortcut to a three-finger press let us launch a program.
On newer Windows notebooks, such as the Samsung Series 9, you can perform four-finger gestures. Swiping down minimizes everything, and swiping up activates the Aero 3D window manager.
While gestures are customizable, making changes requires a multi-click drill down. In addition, some Windows notebook vendors disable helpful features by default.
Apple owning the hardware and software really makes a difference. Gestures just work better on Lion.