today announced that the next major version of its operating system -- Mac OS X Lion -- will ship in July for $29 and will only be available as a download (4GB) in the Mac App Store. That's substantially less than the normal selling price of $129, though it won't be offered as a boxed retail package.
What Lion will bring to the table are 250 new features, many of them representing Apple's "best thinking from iPad," with a handful of them talked about during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
Chief among them is a new Launchpad designed to give users instant access to apps, just like on the iPad. Open windows fade away and are replaced with a full screen display of all the apps on the Mac. Users will be able to swipe to see multiple pages of apps, as well as group apps using folders in the same manner as the iPad. Tying in with the new Launchpad is a "richer multi-touch experience." Apple is beefing up its touchpad gestures support to include things like rubber-band scrolling, and page and image zoom.
Another big feature addition is auto-save. Mac OS X Lion will automatically save your work -- and possibly your hide -- while you work. There's a lock feature to prevent inadvertent changes from being saved (it locks a document after two weeks), and a revert feature that returns you to the state the document was in when you last opened it.
One thing we wish would make its way to Windows is a Resume feature. This allows users to apply software updates and restart their system without worrying about saving work.
"Resume lets you restart your Mac -- after a software update, for example -- and return to what your were doing. With all your apps back in the exact places you left them," Apple says. "In fact, whenever you quit and relaunch an app, Resume opens it precisely the way you left it. So you never have to start from scratch again."
Other notable features include:
- Mail 5: A new mail layout that takes advantage of widescreen displays and looks very similar to the iPad. You can view messages in your inbox and see a full-height preview of the selected message.
- AirDrop: You can wireless send files to anyone in your vicinity, and without any setup or special settings. AirDrop automatically discovers nearby users who are using AirDrop, allowing you to drag-and-drop files.
- New FileVault: This features boasts XTX-AES 128 data encryption at the disk level, encrypting everything in the background while you work. It also works with external drives, and can wipe all data from your Mac instantaneously.
So what's the preliminary verdict? Do these new features make you more apt to consider a Mac, or will Steve Jobs have to pry your Windows/Linux box from your cold, dead hands?