The keynote address from Steve Jobs at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference today has revealed 250 new features for the next version of its operating system – OS X Lion. Highlights include multi-touch gesturing, system-wide support for full-screen apps, a new way of viewing everything on your Mac called Mission Control, an overhauled Mail app, a new Launchpad home for apps and the inclusion of the Mac App Store directly in the OS.
The first new feature of the eighth major OS release to be highlighted at the Conference was multi-touch gesturing. Users will now be able to use a multi-touch trackpad for momentum scrolling, tapping, and pinch zooming of web pages or images, and can flip through documents or switch between apps by swiping left or right.
With a single click, users can make use of the entire display for surfing with Safari, reading emails with Mail or scheduling appointments with iCal – something that’s sure to please 27-inch iMac users. iWork, iLife, iTunes, FaceTime, and others also make the most of the new full screen functionality. With a single touch, Launchpad can be expanded to full screen view – and also benefits from multi-touch swipe functionality to move through different pages to find the desired app.
The new Mission Control interface brings together Exposé, full screen apps, Dashboard and Spaces into one place. Users can swipe the trackpad to display open windows or thumbnails for full screen apps, and to look at what’s on the Dashboard. A tap then launches the chosen feature.
The Mail app has been given a new look and some new features, including built-in support for Microsoft Exchange 2010 and a new Conversations function that groups related messages into one timeline, keeps any graphics or attachments as they were originally sent, and hides any repeated text for easier viewing. Conversation view is available even if those you are hooking up with don’t have Lion. A live, as-you-type search feature suggests topics or people that may be of interest.
Apple has built the Mac App Store directly into the operating system itself, allowing purchased apps to install directly into Launchpad (just like with iOS). Smaller Delta updates can now be delivered without needing to re-download the whole app, and all purchased apps are listed for easy re-download if required. Newly installed apps can take advantage of things like In-App Purchase and Push Notifications.
If you quit and relaunch an app or restart your Mac, the newly-introduced Resume feature will restart the app in exactly the same state as you left it. OS X Lion now includes Auto Save, which automatically and continuously saves documents in the background so that when you close a file, you’re no longer prompted to save it as it’s all taken care of behind the scenes. Users can revert back to an earlier version of a document through a Time Machine-like interface, switch between different variants, or even cut and paste between versions.
The new AirDrop Control Panel will show up any other Mac AirDrop users in the vicinity and allow you to share files with a friend or colleague over a local peer-to-peer network. Data is encrypted on transfer, and confirmation of actions appears at both ends. Files are swapped between Macs by drag and drop.
The OS X Lion upgrade is promised to be the easiest ever, will be 4GB in size and benefits from a reboot-free install. The new OS requires an Intel-based Mac with a Dual-Core i3, i5, i7 or Xeon processor and at least 2GB of RAM. Once purchased, it can be used to upgrade all of your authorized machines.
OS X Lion will be released to consumers only through the Mac App Store in July as a download for US$29.99.