Developers Get Early Look at Next OS X

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Mar 27, 2011
Developers Get Early Look at Next OS X

Preview of OS X 10.7 includes a new version or mail, AirDrop file sharing, and more

In late February, apple released a new developer preview of Mac OS X 10.7. aka Lion, the next incarnation of the Mac operating system. The new version sports a number of features that weren’t showcased when Apple offered a sneak preview of Lion back in October.

Leading the new feature charge is AirDrop, which sounds like a Dropbox alternative. In press materials announcing the developer release. Apple describes AirDrop as “a remarkably simple way to copy files wirelessly from one Mac to another with no setup.”

Another new feature called Versions promises to automatically save successive versions of a document as that document is created, which Apple says will make it easier to revert to previous versions of a file. Versions automatically records a history of changes made to your documents and lets your app display a Time Machine like interface so you can browse through previous versions. The Versions feature seemingly dovetails nicely with Auto Save, which automatically saves documents as you work.

Also new is Resume, which re-creates the last state of your apps when you relaunch them or restart your Mac, much like multitasking apps do under iOS 4.


The iOS similarity is no accident. Apple has touted lion as an operating system that takes the best features of its mobile OS and delivers them to the desktop. Not surprisingly, Lion’s look and feel will differ a bit from previous incarnations of OS X. Several iPad interface elements pop overs and overlay scrollbars among them will make the leap lo the Mac, in what Apple (nostalgi cally) calls Lion’s Aqua experience.

Lion also offers full-screen support for applications, as well as support for new multitouch gestures such as swiping and pinch-to-zoom on Web pages. The latter is a particular focus of Lion, according to Apple. “Full-screen experiences are a very important part of what we’re doing with Mac OS X Lion,” says Apple‘s Wiley- Hodges, director of Mac OS X Product Marketing. “We’ve had it in the past, but we’re making it systemwide now.”

Other previously announced features include Mission Control, which provides a view of open full-screen apps, and Launchpad, which displays apps on screen in a fashion similar to the way they are displayed on the iPhone. There’s also a revamped version of FileVault for securing all your data on both internal and external devices, and it allows you to quickly wipe those drives if you need to.

Other new features that Apple disclosed include version 5 of Mail, which will bring the iPad’s layout for managing your e-mail to the desktop. Message previews run down the narrower left pane, with the full message body on the right side. Apple says that Mail 5 will also sport a new way to quickly search even the largest inboxes. A new Conversations view in Mail 5 doesn’t just offer traditional conversation threading; it can also keep track of e-mail threads even when subject lines change. It also adds support for Microsoft’s Exchange 2010 protocol.

Instead of offering a separate server version of Lion. Apple is building Lion server directly into the OS. Lion server guides you through the configuration of your Mac as a server, and it provides tools for both local and remote administration. The new Profile Manager will make it simple for server administrators to remotely set up and manage OS X 10.7 installations, along with iOS devices. Wiki Server 3 and easier file sharing for the iPad are botn also part of Lion server.

Registered Mac Developer Program members can get Lion directly from the Mac app Store. The final version of Lion will be available to everyone this summer, according to Apple.

“The iPad has inspired a new generation of innovative features in Lion,” said Phil Schillcr, Apple‘s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, in a statement announcing the developer release. “Developers are going to love Mission Control and Launchpad, and can now start adding great new Lion features 3 like full screen, gestures. Versions and Auto Save to their own apps.”

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