At today’s WWDC keynote, Apple executives previewed the next version of the Macintosh operating system dubbed Lion and announced that it will be available for purchase only via the Mac App Store as a compact 4GB upgrade from Snow Leopard priced at $29.99.
The Mac has outpaced the PC industry every quarter for five years running and with OS X Lion we plan to keep extending our lead,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “The best version of OS X yet, Lion is packed with innovative features such as new Multi-Touch gestures, system-wide support for full screen apps, and Mission Control for instantly accessing everything running on your Mac.
With over 250 new features in Lion only a handful were highlighted today, several of which had already been previewed by Apple at other events and on Apple’s site. Retail sales head Phil Schiller demonstrated multi-touch gestures, applications in full-screen mode, the new Mission Control application and window management system, and more.
Photo Booth will get facial recognition features while the Mac App Store will be built into Lion and in-app purchases, which are already common in iOS apps, will be possible for Mac apps. The new Resume feature will re-open applications to the way they were when last used and Lion will automatically save documents to prevent data loss and actively manage versions to preserve disk space.
Another new feature is AirDrop which is a way to share files wirelessly between computers. Macs on the same Wi-Fi network running AirDrop will be visible to each other and files can be dragged and dropped onto the icon for each user to be shared.
Mail will receive a major overhaul in Lion, getting an interface much like the Mail app on the iPad with a split view showing a message list on the left and individual message content on the right. The display of email conversations also gets an upgrade as does searching capability.
Lion will be available some time in July.