I recently switched from a full-time Windows 10 user to using a MacBook Air. My Windows laptop, which is my second, and has lasted me almost 6 years through a hectic school life finally gave up the ghost, after keyboard keys began flying off left, right and centre in some crazy Buckeroo-style game. Having used Windows for 10 years or so (bearing in mind that I’m 16, this is a majority of my lifetime), I expected the transition to Mac OS to be difficult at best. Now, in fairness, I received the MacBook by fedEx yesterday afternoon, so I definitely have plenty more to learn. However, thus far, I am pleasantly surprised — which, in itself, is an understatement.
I just thought I’d mention the highlights of Mac OS for me so far, from the perspective of a Windows switcher (although not a Windows lover, in all honesty.
I’ve used an iPhone and an iPad since 2012 and 2013 respectively, using VoiceOver full-time, as I have no vision to fall back on. I’ve also used these devices with bluetooth keyboards, and was therefore pleasantly surprised to realise that these skills definitely made for a smoother transition to voiceOver on the Mac. Many keyboard keystrokes are similar/the same, and the same modifier keys are used in Mac OS and iOS. If I had come from JAWS and NVDA on Windows, with no VO experience on iOS, the transition would have been a nightmare: there are very few similarities when it comes to basic OS navigation.
Voiceover’s ability to use the trackpad for input, using gestures similar to those on iOS, with some additional Mac-specific ones, is potentially one of my favourite features of the Mac. Navigating by touch feels so much more natural and comfortable for me, and I’m so glad that the accessibility team at Apple retained the consistency between iOS and Mac OS when it comes to gesture control.
Handoff and continuity
I’ve had some experience of this before, between iPad and iPhone, but I honestly think that this feature cannot be truly appreciated until a Mac/MacBook is brought into the equation. Even within 24 hours, I have found myself several times looking at a page on safari, and needing to go somewhere else, only to pick up my iPhone and find the page ready and waiting for me there. As well as this, being able to make phone calls via my iPhone from the Mac is simply incredible: it makes life just that little bit easier if you’re already on your Mac, and need to contact someone.
Yes, I know — I’m the obligatory individual who subscribes to Apple Music, but I never really thought about it being on the Mac. The fact that it is — albeit in the mess that is iTunes — is great for me. It’s made easier to access through the inclusion of Siri; I can ask her to play one of my playlists, and iTunes pops up and we’re off. Playlists also sync between devices, which is super helpful.
Finally, potentially my favourite little gimmick on the MAcBook — the ability to authenticate oneself using the Apple Watch! Being able to switch on the Mac, and have it ready to use straight away, without need for a password etc is unbelievably useful, and feels very futuristic. It provides me with yet another reason to wear my Apple Watch!
Most, if not all of, these features are new to me, as a Windows switcher, and I’m loving them. Yes, there have been some learning curves involved, and I’m still trying to get my head around a few of the VO keyboard commands, but on the whole I’m really happy. The jump from windows has been made all-too-easy due to my experience with iPhone and iPad, particularly using a bluetooth keyboard, and I would therefore recommend anyone with any iOS experience and an urge to investigate the Mac to give it a go!