Apple has released a preview version of its next Mac OS X software, showing the influence of the iPad and iOS on the flagship computer UI.
The "Lion" release gives users a view of everything running on the computer, and a single home for Mac applications. Applications will now be able to fill the entire display screen, and can make use of multi-touch gestures. Also included is the recently introduced Mac App Store, modeled after the iTunes App Store for iPhones and iPads, which run iOS.
HISTORY: Evolution of the Apple MacBook
The new Mac OS version likewise is being influenced by the success of the iOS model. It includes:
• Mission Control: which brings together a number of existing features such as Expose' and Dashboard, to create a single view of all active applications and windows on the computer. Gestures let users swipe the screen to zoom out and see all open windows grouped together based on their application, and see thumbnails of full screen applications.
• Launchpad: one click now shows a full screen display of available applications; users can start, re-arrange them, and group them in folders. Another addition is putting groups of apps onto separate pages and allowing users to swipe between them.
• Full screen apps: this feature of the iPad is now available to Mac users. Click on the application window, and it expands to fill the display; swiping the screen shifts from one full screen window to another or to the Mac Desktop or Dashboard.
With Lion, Apple's Multi-Touch gestures introduced by iOS for smartphones and tablets, now will be available on the Mac line.
The new OS version includes the Mac App Store application, which lets users browse and select applications from the online catalog, pay for them via their linked iTunes account, and have them download and install automatically to Launchpad.
Other Lion changes include:
• A new version of the Mail application, with an iPad-inspired widescreen format; grouping related messages into a timeline; improved search; and support for Microsoft Exchange 2010
• AirDrop, a new way to wirelessly copy files from Mac to Mac with no setup.
• A new version of a control application, called Versions, for saving, managing, editing documents as they change.
• A feature called Resume, which, after you quit an application or restart the computer, will bring you back to where you were in the application at that point.
The preview is available now to members of the Mac Developer Program. The final version of Lion is scheduled to be released this summer.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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