Apple gave a sneak peek of Mac OS X Lion, the eighth major release of the operating system, at today’s “Back to the Mac” event. Shipping next summer, Lion is inspired by many of iPad’s software innovations.
The sneak peek highlighted just a few of Lion’s features, including the Mac App Store, a new way to discover, install and automatically update desktop apps; Launchpad, a new home for all of your Mac apps; system-wide support for full screen apps; and Mission Control, which unifies Exposé, Dashboard, Spaces and full screen apps into a new view of everything running on your Mac, and allows you to instantly navigate anywhere.
“Lion brings many of the best ideas from iPad back to the Mac, plus some fresh new ones like Mission Control that Mac users will really like,” says Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “Lion has a ton of new features, and we hope the few we had time to preview today will give users a good idea of where we are headed.”
Craig Federighi, vice president of engineering for OS X, demoed Lion at the Back to the Mac event. The Mac App Store brings the Apple App Store experience to Mac OS X, making discovering, installing and updating Mac apps easier than ever, he says. Like on the iPad, you purchase apps using your iTunes account and they download and install in just one step.
App updates are delivered directly through the Mac App Store, so it’s easy to keep all of your apps up to date. The Mac App Store will be available for Snow Leopard within 90 days and will be included in Lion when it ships next summer.
Federighi says Launchpad makes it easier than ever to find and launch any app. Similar to the Home screen on iPad, you can see all the apps on your Mac displayed just by clicking the Launchpad icon in the dock. Apps can be organized in any order or grouped into folders, and you can swipe through multiple pages of apps to find the one you want.
Lion includes system-wide support for full screen applications. With Lion, you can enter full screen mode with just one click, switch from one full screen app to another with just a swipe of the trackpad, and swipe back to the desktop to access your multi-window applications.
Mission Control presents you with a unified view of every app and window running on your Mac, so you can instantly navigate anywhere. Mission Control also incorporates the next generation of Exposé, presenting all the windows running on your Mac grouped by application, alongside thumbnails of full screen apps, Dashboard and other Spaces.
“The philosophy behind Lion: we started with Mac OS X and iOS spun off from it,” Jobs says. “Now we’re brining iOS innovations back to the Mac.”
— Dennis Sellers