I upgraded my MacBook Pro to Apple OS X Lion in a lunch hour. Okay, it wasn't a lunch hour—I couldn't wait that long—but even more astonishing than the expediency (30 minutes to download and 35 to upgrade) was the effortlessness of the process.
At 9am yesterday morning, I opened the Mac App Store, clicked purchase, and let the installer work its magic. When I returned to my machine, it donned a fresh new log-in screen and a new OS. As tech journalist, this ought to have delighted me. Instead, I was left hungering for more.
It's not that Lion isn't a graceful creature; Apple's latest OS adds poise to an already agile predecessor. The 250 new features—Mission Control has already changed how I work—touch every corner of the OS and surpass the 150 additions of the refinement-focused Snow Leopard. Yet I can't help feel that something important is happening—has already happened—to very concept of the OS.
During today's Apple earnings call, CFO Peter Oppenheimer announced that Mac OS X 10.7, better known as OS X Lion, will be launching tomorrow on the Mac App Store. Lion will be available as a 4 GB download, and will sell for $29.99. Once purchased, you can install it on all Macs that you own at no extra cost, and without any sort of authorization key. Apple is touting 250 new features in Lion, with things like Launchpad (an app launcher that is reminiscent of iOS,) Mission Control (a replacement for Expose,) Resume, touch gestures, and more included. Lion Server will also be available as a $50 add-on.
Today I was given a sneak peak at the current state of OS X Lion. It's now looking smoother, though it's still a work in progress.
A few nifty features have arrived since my first viewing of the nascent operating system. As has been mentioned, Lion borrows a lot from iOS, but don't forget that iOS started out as a whittled down version of Mac OS X, so the tides have turned.
Never-before seen features announced today include AirDrop, a wireless file-sharing utility; a redesigned Mail app; Resume, which presents the OS and Apps in the exact state at shutdown; Versions, which allows app developers to implement a feature that saves multiple snapshots of any document being worked on; and AutoSave, which does what its name suggests, saving documents automatically.
Apple also announced today that FaceTime for Mac is no longer beta, and is available in the Mac App Store for $0.99.
I also got a closer look at some of OS X Lion's major new interface tools: LaunchPad, Mission Control, and multitouch support, which works across the other two. Before delving into the previously unknown features, I'll share some impressions of these, which will change the way we interact with our Macs in significant ways.
Inspired by the success of its iPad tablet, Apple is transferring ideas from that platform to its next full-scale desktop operating system, Mac OS X Lion, where they make sense. Among these are the Launchpad view of all installed app icons, a full-screen view for apps, and multi-touch gesture support. Apple has said that the new OS, which is the eighth major release of OS X, will arrive this summer, but today the company made a preview version available to developers.
The update also introduces some new concepts for navigating applications and OS features. Mission Control is probably the most radical, all-encompassing of these. Combining features of Exposé, Dashboard, Spaces, and full-screen apps, Mission Control is just what it sounds like, a place to quickly access all running applications, workspaces, and gadgets.
"The iPad has inspired a new generation of innovative features in Lion," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Developers are going to love Mission Control and Launchpad, and can now start adding great new Lion features like full screen, gestures, Versions and Auto Save to their own apps."
Launchpad looks and works very similarly to the iPhone and iPad's home screen—a grid of icons for every app installed. Users will be able to reorder and group the app icons into folders, and multiple pages of icons will be accessible with a swipe, just as on the smaller iDevices.