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Although Apple provided a pretty good look at its next-generation Mac OS X months ago, WWDC 2011 was the place to be to hear all of the remaining details that Cupertino has been keeping from us all this time, including when you can finally get your hands on 10.7 Lion at last.
Following a brief introduction by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller came on stage to demonstrate Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, the next generation of the desktop software we all know and love. Lion will introduce more than 250 new features to the operating system, Schiller will be presenting 10 of them at WWDC.
First up are multi-touch gestures, which are now built into the entire Mac notebook lineup. Schiller demonstrates tap-to-zoom, pinching and two-finger swiping, “all with an incredible, physical realism that’s never been possible in a PC operating system before.” Full-screen applications make up the second part of the Lion presentation, which will include Safari, iMovie, iCal and dozens of other standard apps. Schiller calls full-screen in Preview “a beautiful experience.” Mission Control also promises to finally unify Exposé and Spaces into one central area, allowing you to quickly create new Spaces or delete them by simply clicking the X in the upper-left corner.
Following a quick demonstration of Mission Control, Schiller moves on to talk about the Mac App Store. “It is the best place to purchase and discover new Mac desktop applications,” Schiller notes, touting the service as the number one channel for buying PC software -- even above Best Buy, Walmart and Office Depot, which make up the next three spots.
Next, Launchhpad is the company’s iOS-style method for making apps appear with a pinch gesture in multiple pages and folders. Resume, another feature borrowed from iOS that will make reloading your last-used documents a thing of the past. With Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, you’ll be able to simply exit an application and when you open it again, you’ll be right where you left off before. Resume also extends to window placement, Spaces and most everything else within OS X.
Auto Save also promises to bring iOS simplicity to Mac OS X. “The one time you forget to save what you’re doing, something goes wrong,” Schiller laments. “Why can’t the computer help you? That’s what Lion does.” Lion is about more than simply saving so you don’t have to, offering full control on the menu bar for locking, duplicating, reverting to the last opened version and even browsing prior saves. Schiller demonstrates the Auto Save feature in the company’s own Pages application.
AirDrop features peer-to-peer sharing without the need for using a thumb drive or what Apple calls “sneakernet.” Simply go into AirDrop and you’ll see who’s already using it -- just drop a file onto the user you want to send to and done. “There’s nothing to set up,” Schiller notes. “It’s auto-discover, auto set-up.”
Finally, Schiller gets to the belle of the ball with number 10, an all-new version of the company’s Mail application. Complete with a two or three-column view and a favorites bar to get you to the folders you use most often, search has also been revamped in the latest version. “Mail recognizes whether that’s a person or a subject,” Schiller explains. “Select one and it becomes a search token.” Mail also adds a new conversation view, and both features appear to be receiving some substantial applause from developers.
So how will Mac OS X users upgrade to Lion? The software will be available in July as a 4GB download from the Mac App Store, which installs right in place on all of your authorized Macs for one low price of $29.99.
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