Touch is a big deal in the mobile world. You can't lug a keyboard and mouse around with you everywhere. That's why tablets, smartphones and other gadgets are touch-based.
Well, Apple is bringing that to Macs. Its laptops already have built-in multi-touch trackpads. Apple also sells a multi-touch trackpad for its desktops and iMacs.
That's why Lion will have full support for multi-touch gestures. You can zoom, pinch, scroll and swipe. It gives you an easy way to control your on-screen content. You'll find it popping up a lot as I go through Lion's features.
Next up are full-screen applications. OS X has always lacked a true full-screen mode for programs. You don't have the maximize button like you do in Windows.
Now, however, OS X allows programs to go full-screen. The program will even cover the dock and top Finder bar. You can use a swiping gesture to move between full-screen applications.
To start, it will mostly be Apple programs that have this feature. However, developers will be integrating this with future third-party programs. Soon, it should be available in all applications.
Mission Control is the next new feature. It's actually a conglomeration of several existing features. It combines Expose, Spaces, Dashboard and better previewing.
You can enter Mission Control using an upward three-finger swipe. It lets you view all your open programs and documents. Plus, you can easily create and manage workspaces. You can even preview running programs using touch gestures.
Next up is the Mac App Store. This isn't actually a new feature. You can visit it right now. However, it is now fully integrated into Lion.
That makes finding and installing new applications much easier. It also allows in-app purchasing, push notifications and extra security. So it will be similar to the App Store in iOS.
Lion is going to feature a new option for launching programs. It's appropriately called Launchpad. You open it using a pinch gesture. (I told you gestures would keep popping up!)
Launchpad shows you a grid of installed applications. It looks somewhat like the home screen in iOS. You can quickly browse for the application you want to run.
OS X now supports a feature called Resume. When you open a program or system window, it will appear exactly as you last left it. That includes size, position, toolbars and highlighted text.
This is supposed to increase productivity. You don't have to spend time arranging things just as you like them. Once you set them, they'll always open that way.
Similar to that is the new Auto Save feature. Every document you create will be automatically saved. You don't even have to think about it.
Auto Save is controlled through the document's name on the top bar. For example, you can lock the document to prevent auto saving. You can duplicate the file or revert to the last-opened state.
There is also an option to Browse All Versions. A new document version is saved every time something changes. You can also create manual snapshots. This means, you can review all the versions at any point.
If you accidentally changed something, just go back and get it. Changes can be copied and pasted between versions. Multiple versions of a document are stored within a single file. It keeps you from creating clutter with multiple files.
Next up is AirDrop. This is a peer-to-peer sharing system. It makes it simple to share files with other AirDrop users.
Your computer will auto-detect any other users on your network. Just drag a file to that user. It will send them a notification; they can start downloading the file. The transfer is fully encrypted to prevent snooping.
Finally, Apple has upgraded its built-in Mail program. It has a new layout with two or three columns. You can more quickly browse through your mail and folders.
Searching through your mail is easier with intelligent searching rules. There is also a conversation view for following a thread of email. Neither of these is revolutionary, but it's nice to see Mail finally include them.
Those are the main features Apple covered in the keynote. However, there are still over 200 more. This includes things like better searching, system-wide spelling auto-correct and streamlined file dragging. A lot of the new features really tweak and polish existing features.
The good news is that Lion will only cost $30! Plus, you only need to buy one copy for all your authorized Macs. That means you can install it on any Macs linked to your iTunes and Mac App Store account.
Apple is also offering an Up-To-Date upgrade. Any Mac purchased on June 6 or after gets a free upgrade to Lion. However, you will need to request the upgrade within 30 days of purchase.
Now for the not-so-good news. Apple says you need to be running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard to upgrade. There is no information yet on upgrades from other versions.
The reason you need Snow Leopard is that Lion won't be available on a disc. It can only be acquired from the Mac App Store. The App Store was added in Snow Leopard.
Apple says the Lion upgrade will be 4 gigabytes. That's a very large file. You'll need a fast Internet connection or a lot of patience to get it. A 1.3 megabit-per-second connection will take over 7 hours to download it.
There are also some hardware restrictions to consider. Unlike previous OS X versions, Lion only runs on Intel Core 2 Duo processors and newer. If you have a PowerPC or Intel Core Duo processor, forget it. However, any computer purchased after 2006 should be okay.
There are still some upgrade questions to be answered. What do you do if you don't have Internet? How do businesses and schools go about upgrading? Apple hasn't commented on this yet. I'm sure it will before Lion is launched, however.
Macs are great computers. You might be considering getting one. Learn more about what you should know before you buy:
- There are several types of Macs available. Find out which one is right for you.
- Macs are reputed to be immune to viruses. Unfortunately, this isn't true. Learn how to secure your Mac from threats.
- Mac has almost all the software you could want. However, you might need a Windows-only program. Get instructions for installing Windows on your Mac.