Apple's Mac OS X Lion Previewed for Developers

Apple has released a developer preview of Mac OS X Lion, its next PC operating system, which owes much to the company's mobile software.

Apple has released a developer preview of Mac OS X Lion, the next version of its PC operating system. Lion's new features demonstrate the growing influence of mobile on the company's other product lines, with iPhone- and iPad-like emphasis on applications and multi-touch gestures.

That's a comparison evidently embraced by Apple. "The iPad has inspirited a new generation of innovative features in Lion," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, wrote in a Feb. 24 statement.

Those features include Mission Control, which Apple touts as giving users "a bird's eye view of every application and window running on your Mac," with thumbnails of full-screen applications alongside Dashboard. In a similar vein, Launchpad displays all Mac applications in a full-screen layout. Lion also offers the one-click ability to display applications in full-screen mode.

Those applications come from the new Mac App Store, and are purchasable via the user's iTunes account. The Mac App Store launched Jan. 6 with more than 1,000 free and paid applications, including the always-popular Angry Birds and more productivity-centric programming along the lines of Autodesk. By porting its mobile-applications model to the PC, Apple likely hopes to attract users interested in downloading smaller programs with just one click, as well as third-party developers looking for a new platform for their products.

Other Lion features include AirDrop, which lets users copy files wirelessly from one Mac to another; Versions, which automatically saves successive versions of a document; Resume, which revives applications in their most recent state after restarting a Mac or relaunching an application; and Auto Save, which automatically saves applications while one works.

In addition, Apple is offering a revamped FileVault with high-performance full-disk encryption for local and external drives, as well as the ability to wipe a Mac's data instantly; and Mac OS X Lion Server, which adds support for managing, in addition to Mac OS X Lion, iPhones and iPads.

The final version of Lion will apparently ship to consumers this summer. In the meantime, Apple is prepping a March 2 event in San Francisco that media and pundits generally believe will officially introduce the next-generation iPad to the world. Apple is also expected to introduce the next version of the iPhone by summer, if it sticks to its traditional smartphone roadmap.

Mac Developer Program members can find the Lion preview in the Mac App Store.