Lion. The undisputed king of the jungle. The biggest, most dominant, of all the big cats, and that fact alone leaves little doubt that Mac OS X 10.7, will be the last iteration of the operating system that market the resurgence of Apple in the personal computer scene. Mac OS 9 wasn’t Apple’s finest moment, yet the strides made since then have been phenomenal, and here we are. The last hurrah from the animal kingdom. The last hurrah from Mac OS X.
And though it’s pulled into the station at the end of the line, this is certainly not the end for Apple software. New passengers are just boarding, sales figures for Mac’s are better than ever and by large, that has to be attributed to the overwhelming success of Apple’s mobile devices: the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. The whole ecosystem has contributed to the emergence of a brand so globally renowned, that it’s very difficult to escape. So, let’s not look at this as an end, but as a new beginning, because Apple is leading the Macintosh on a whole new voyage, starting with Lion.
We’ve already taken a look at the developer previews of Lion, but today being WWDC, we’ve been treated to an official look at a whole lot more of what’s coming with Lion. What’s been clear from the outset, though, is that this iteration of OS X is bridging the gap between desktop and mobile. OS X and iOS have never been more closely related than they are now, with the arrival of Lion.
If you want to take a good look at everything we’ve seen so far, then check out developer previews of Lion this screenshot tour of all the new features that have been packed in since the outset, and come back here for all the glorious, never before seen stuff that’ll have your mane standing on end.
New Gestures and Full-Screen Apps
We commented on the gestures in the screenshot tour, but there have since then been some new additions to the huge inventory of multi-touch gestures in Lion. Basically, every app that comes packed in, as well as a lot of the core OS and window transitions, will be controlled using multi-touch gestures. Not exclusively, but it is being strongly encouraged by Apple.
When in Safari, you can simply use 2-finger horizontal gestures to flick quickly through your history, going back through all your previous pages, for example, and similar gestures are implemented throughout.
The gestures are particularly useful now that apps are going full-screen à la iOS. You can now transition between open apps using 4-gesture swipes, without leaving full screen. One of these apps if Photo Booth. A simple, but popular Mac app, and Apple has demoed it at WWDC with a whole range of new animated effects, some of which attracted widespread laughter from the audience in Moscone.
Resume and Auto-Save
This latest feature simply allows you to get back to work quicker after leaving an application or restarting your machine. Upon closing the app, resume will remember exactly what you were doing, right down to the last detail, for example which text is highlighted and which documents were open. It’s allowing you to get back to work more quickly. Simple.
Sticking with productivity features, we have Auto-save, a self explanatory new feature that keeps your work up-to-date as you go so you don’t lose critical documents. In the same vain, we’ve informed you before of ‘versions’ a feature which will keep incremental versions of your latest project or document, so you can see how it has evolved since its creation or revert to an old idea.
All in the name of security and productivity. Wonderful stuff.
Apple’s answer to the flash drive. Replacing the manual method of copying, transporting and delivering data, is ‘AirDrop’, a new feature in Lion, which we have spoken about before, but worth mentioning again. It allows you to create a virtual link between yourself and another Lion user, and simply send them files and folders over the air.
Again, nothing new in its entirety, but there are new features, such as a new search tool, which not only allows you to search for people or messages, but allows you to filter your search using other criteria, for example only what’s in the subject or the body of the message, and on top of that Mail will suggest results for you as you go, much like Spotlight.
Conversation view is also nice, keeping each thread separate from another so you can see every reply within a conversation in one view, and when you’re done, simply discard the entire conversation. It’s something we’ve seen with other clients such as Postbox before, but it’s neat to have it in the built in Mail application.
Safari Reading List
This upgrade also brings with it an intriguing change to Safari, a new feature called ‘Reading List’, which is similar to Instapaper or Read it Later, which allows you to simply save all your articles that you don’t have time or inclination to read on the spot and sync them to your iOS device or keep them in OS X for reading later.
Overall, there are 250 new features in Lion, we’ve only touched upon some of them here, but if you want to check them out for yourself then Lion is coming through the Mac App Store only for an extremely aggressive price of just $30. Incredible. Coming out in July.