As expected, Apple showcased Lion, the next edition of OS X, at WWDC 2011 in San Francisco. The Lion is a major release with more than 250 new features. Due to time considerations, Apple didn’t detail all of them. However, it did give a rundown of the top ten features. We have already discussed most of them in the past; nevertheless, here’s another quick look at some of show stealers in OS X Lion.
Multi-touch gestures: Apple (correctly) believes that touchscreens are simply not feasible on notebooks and desktops. The vertical form factor makes them unintuitive and annoying. Instead of trying to add touch support to the Lion, Apple has chosen to integrate multi-touch gestures. All new Apple notebooks feature multi-touch trackpads, and desktop users can use the Magic Mouse to enjoy the goodness of multi-touch. All popular gestures including pinch-to-zoom and two finger zoom will be present in the Lion. The Lion will do away with scrollbars, which will now show up only when you are scrolling.
Full Screen Apps: Lion will feature a new full-screen mode, which can be easily leveraged by application developers. Several inbuilt applications like iPhoto, iMovie, and Safari will have full screen support. Full screen mode can be triggered via a control present in the upper-right corner, and applications can be switched by simply swiping.
Mission Control: Two of the best productivity enhancing features of Mac are Expose and Spaces. Expose provides a quick overview of open applications, and Spaces groups those applications in a neat and customizable manner. Mission Control marries these two features. Mission Control displays all open applications, along with widgets and spaces, and multiple instances of open applications are grouped into stacks. Essentially, it is a task switcher on steroids.
Mac App Store: The Mac App Store has already surpassed big names like Best Buy and Walmart, and is currently the #1 channel for buying Mac software. The App Store will be built into the Leopard, and will feature automatic updates, push notifications, and sandboxing (isolation of untrusted apps from the system).
Launchpad: Apple has taken the application screen in iOS that we are already familiar with, and added it to Lion. Launchpad displays all installed applications in a full screen, multi-page, grid layout.
Resume, Autosave and Versions: These three are my favorite features in Lion simply because they can be a real time and life saver. Lion is capable of automatically saving your work across the system. It also saves the application state. So when you quit an application and then relaunch it, everything from the opened documents and toolbar placement to highlighted text is same as before. Lion supports versioning, and multiple copies of the same document are maintained. It is essentially per-document Time Machine, which allows you to go back and restore past copies of a document, or even mix and match different versions of a document. The versioning system is storage efficient as only changes between different document versions are saved, instead of the entire document.
AirDrop: This is a peer-to-peer (P2P) application that makes sharing files over the Wi-Fi a breeze. You can share any file with a fellow AirDrop user by simply dragging and dropping the file on the user’s thumbnail in the AirDrop application interface.
Mail: Lion features a significantly spruced up Mail. Apple has taken oodles of inspiration from Google, and has added conversations, search suggestions, labels, favorites and folders to Mail. Search in particular is quite powerful and flexible. The interface has also been changed. The new Mail sports a two column layout that looks quite similar to the iOS email client.
Although, Mac is still way behind Windows in terms of market share, it has been making steady progress. According to Apple, it has outgrown the industry every quarter for the past five years. Mac has a user base of 54 million around the world. While the sales figure of Windows 7 alone dwarfs the entire Mac user base, it is worth noting that while PC has shrunk 1%, the Mac has grown 28%.
The developer preview of OS X Lion will be released later today, while the final build will be available in July. Snow Leopard users can purchase the Lion directly from the Mac App Store for as little as $29.99. In other words, Apple is releasing Lion as a standard Mac application. This means that Lion will be available on all authorized devices, and will weigh less than 4 GB. The upgrade process will be seamless for Mac users, while for users migrating from Windows, there will be a Windows Migration Assistant.
The Lion takes ample inspiration from iOS for iPhone and iPad, and builds on the already strong foundation of OS X. It’s an attractive operating system, which seems to have the right combination of beauty, grace, brains and power.
Images via Engadget