Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: "Mac OS X meets the iPad"

Apple logoDuring today's media event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave the first sneak peek at the eighth major version of Mac OS X. Codenamed "Lion," Jobs said that the new version will bring new features and innovations developed for its iOS mobile operating system.

In particular, Jobs highlighted several features that Mac OS X 10.7 would incorporate from iOS: multitouch gestures, an app store, an app home screen, full-screen apps, auto save, and auto resume on launch. This should give both developers and users some idea of what to expect when Lion ships next summer.

With respect to multitouch gestures, Jobs said that Apple's research has shown that multitouch doesn't work on a vertical screen. "For a notebook, that's why we've perfected our multitouch trackpads over the years," Jobs said. "That's the best way we've found to get multitouch into a notebook."

He noted that Apple has brought multitouch to the desktop via the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad. Jobs didn't specifically mention how Lion would expand on the multitouch support already included in Snow Leopard, however.

Lion will also bring a new Mac App Store for all Mac OS X users. Like the iOS App Store, there will be one-click downloads, automatic installation, and automatic updates. Developers will be able to offer both free and paid apps, and will get the same 70 percent revenue split as they do now in the iOS App Store. For users, the apps are automatically licensed for all their machines.

Dispelling some fears that Apple might "lock down" app distribution on the Mac as it has with iOS, Jobs was careful to note that the Mac App Store won't be the only place to get applications—just "the best place."

Apple isn't waiting for Mac OS X 10.7 to launch the Mac App Store. Instead, it will launch in 90 days for Snow Leopard users. Developers will be able to access information about how to ready apps for the Mac App Store beginning today, and submissions will be accepted beginning in November.

Apple Mac OS X 10.7

Apple Mac OS X 10.7

Users will also have new ways to launch, run, and switch between applications in Lion. Launchpad, accessible from the Dock, will fill the screen with icons arranged in a SpringBoard-like grid. As with iOS, there will be multiple "screens" of icons, and they can be arranged by drag and drop.

Developers will now be able to incorporate a full-screen view into their applications. When set to full-screen mode, the Mac OS X toolbar disappears, giving the entire screen space to a single application. Several recent apps, such as WriteRoom, have incorporated a similar mode of undistracted work environments. Several Apple engineers demonstrated apps with a full-screen mode, including the new iLife 11 apps announced today.

To better manage currently running apps, Apple has combined windowed apps, full-screen apps, Exposé, and Spaces into what it calls Mission Control. Demonstrated using gestures on a Magic Mouse, swiping can access Mission Control to switch among apps, windows within a particular app, or to other virtual desktops. The effect is not unlike a mix of UI paradigms from Mobile Safari's "tab" switching, iOS 4's app switching, and Exposé.

Auto save and auto resume for documents and apps weren't demonstrated during the event today, but they are both features we were hoping might be coming to Mac OS X. After becoming accustomed to them in iOS, they could be a productivity boon on the desktop.

Though this sneak peek didn't reveal very much, Jobs promised that Apple will unveil more features as time goes on. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will launch in summer 2011—"we're on schedule to ship it then," Jobs said.

Tags: Apple, Mac OS X

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