Today Apple will host the much anticipated “Back to the Mac” media event, in which Jobs & Company will tell us what’s new for the Mac will preview the next version of Mac OS X. Let's look at the speculation and see what's likely.
We'll definitely get some info on the next version of Mac OS X and, based on the logo on the invitation to the event, it will be dubbed Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion"). Although some folks are skeptical, I think we'll see the beginning of a merge of Mac OS X and the iOS that will bring touch commands to future Macs.
Now I don't think Apple will make touch the main way for us to interact with Macs. But it will be an option along with keyboards, mice and trackpads. I also think Lion will sport an iOS emulator environment that lets Mac users run iOS apps. I also suspect we'll see AirPlay implementation and ways of integrating the Mac OS file system into mobile devices. But don't hold your breath; Lion isn't likely to prowl until summer or fall of 2011.
The "MacStories" site (http://www.macstories.net/mac/exclusive-ios-scrolling-coming-to-os-x-10-...) makes this forecast: "iOS scroll bars and scrolling behavior are coming to OS X. That means you’ll have to say goodbye to the current Aqua scroll bars and get ready for a more minimal look. Also, the 'rubber band' elastic scrolling iOS is famous for is making its first appearance on the desktop ... Quick Look is also getting a new UI: instead of translucent black, 10.7 will feature an all-new white Quick Look UI ... Last, Apple has implemented a Quick Look popover for items in the Spotlight menu."
There's big anticipation that we'll see a revamped version of the MacBook Air, which will be sort of a hybrid MacBook/iPad and come in 11-inch and 13-inch versions. Among the rumors is that it will sport some sort of SSD drive built from Toshiba flash chips and controller that will allow the device to boot up almost instantly (a la the iPad). But like the MacBook the new MacBook Air will, some predict, have an extra USB port and an SD slot, as well as upgradeable RAM. I'm inclined to agree with these predictions, though earlier I've felt the MacBook Air will go the way of the dodo bird with the success of the iPad.
Also expected are upgraded versions of iLife and (somewhat less likely) iLife and iWork. I think we'll see both. I think the former will (unfortunately) drop iDVD and will replace it with a revamped iChat that implements the FaceTime technology now present in iPhones and new iPod touches.
As for iWork 2011, I think it will sport a revamped Keynote that will make it more attractive now that Microsoft has updated PowerPoint. I also think -- or at least hope -- there will be some way to better share files with Mac and iOS versions of the iWork apps.
What we won't see (or hear) announced is a Mac mini-tower or (and please disappoint me, Steve) Blu-ray playback support for Mac OS X. I'm also skeptical that we'll see HDMI ports on iMacs and laptops -- but, again, I hope I'm wrong. Finally, we won't see a Mac app store. Not yet, but it's coming.
-- Dennis Sellers