Apple releases Mac OS X Lion developer preview

Apple releases Mac OS X Lion developer preview

Apple announced today that the next version of their desktop operating system, Mac OS X Lion -- the one that takes iPhone and iPad features back to the Mac -- is now available for developers to preview.

“The iPad has inspired a new generation of innovative features in Lion,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “Developers are going to love Mission Control and Launchpad, and can now start adding great new Lion features like full screen, gestures, Versions and Auto Save to their own apps.”

There are the features they've mentioned before, including the Mission Control system that replaces/unifies Spaces and Exposé, Launchpad which lets you have a grid of apps like iOS, full screen apps also like iOS, more multitouch gestures like iOS (sensing a trend?), and some new ones like a new, iPad-inspired version of Mail, AirDrop which sounds like AirPlay for files, Resume which is saved-state for Mac OS, Auto-Save, a new File Vault, and more.

No mention of 10.7, does that mean Apple thinks version numbers aren't even developer-facing information anymore? Press release after the break and feel free to speculate if we'll see things AirDrop show up for iOS at next week's iPad event...


CUPERTINO, California—February 24, 2011—Apple® today released a developer preview of Mac OS® X Lion, which takes some of the best ideas from iPad™ and brings them back to the Mac® for the eighth major release of the world’s most advanced operating system. Lion features Mission Control, an innovative new view of everything running on your Mac; Launchpad, a new home for all your Mac apps; full screen apps that use the entire Mac display; and new Multi-Touch™ gestures. Lion also includes the Mac App Store℠, the best place to discover, install and automatically update Mac apps. The Lion preview is available to Mac Developer Program members through the Mac App Store today, and the final version of Lion will ship to customers this summer.

“The iPad has inspired a new generation of innovative features in Lion,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “Developers are going to love Mission Control and Launchpad, and can now start adding great new Lion features like full screen, gestures, Versions and Auto Save to their own apps.”

Mission Control is a powerful, entirely new feature that unifies Exposé®, Dashboard, Spaces®, and full screen apps to give you a bird’s eye view of every app and window running on your Mac. With a simple swipe, your desktop zooms out to display your open windows grouped by app, thumbnails of your full screen apps as well as your Dashboard, and allows you to instantly navigate anywhere with a click.

Launchpad makes it easier than ever to find and launch any app. With a single click, Launchpad displays all your Mac apps in a stunning full screen layout where you can launch, re-order or organize apps into folders. You can also arrange apps into multiple pages and swipe between them.

Lion brings the full screen experience that iPad users love to the Mac. With one click, your application window goes full screen, taking advantage of your Mac’s brilliant display. You can swipe from one full screen window to another and even back to your Desktop or Dashboard.

New Multi-Touch gestures and fluid animations give you a natural and intuitive way to interact with your Mac. New gestures include pinching your fingers to zoom in on a web page or image, swiping left or right to turn a page or switch between full screen apps and swiping up to enter Mission Control.

Lion also includes the Mac App Store, where you can find great new apps, buy them with your iTunes® account, and download and install them in just one step. Apps purchased from the Mac App Store are installed directly into Launchpad.

Additional features in Lion include:

  • a new version of Mail, with an elegant, widescreen layout inspired by the iPad; Conversations, which automatically groups related messages into one easy to read timeline; more powerful search; and support for Microsoft Exchange 2010;
  • AirDrop, a remarkably simple way to copy files wirelessly from one Mac to another with no setup;
  • Versions, which automatically saves successive versions of your document as you create it, and gives you an easy way to browse, edit and even revert to previous versions;
  • Resume, which conveniently brings your apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app;
  • Auto Save, which automatically saves your documents as you work; the all new FileVault, that provides high performance full disk encryption for local and external drives, and the ability to wipe data from your Mac instantaneously; and
  • Mac OS X Lion Server, which makes setting up a server easier than ever and adds support for managing Mac OS X Lion, iPhone®, iPad and iPod touch® devices.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple releases Mac OS X Lion developer preview


Mail 5 finally looks good enough for me to ditch Outlook 2011 on my Mac. The conversation grouping (available on all iDevices) and preview windows are the main features I was waiting for.
AirDrop looks promising as well, only IF iOS 5 supports it.

"Finally" ditch Outlook 2011 for Mac? Didn't that just come out in October? Would you really classify that as "finally"?

For me, it's finally since I have been using Exchange on the PC and now the Mac for quite a number of years.

Yes, I know that. I have been using it for months now on the Mac and years on the PC. Practically the same thing on both platforms. I can "finally" shed myself from it on the home front but unfortunately not at work.

Outlook 2011 will continue to be my tool of choice until Apple can more properly support Exchange server features in Mail, iCal and AB. I tried them for about a year, and it's not a good experience in a MS Exchange server heavy work environment.
Probably fine for consumers, but for enterprise environments with an MS Exchange backbone, I question whether Apple will ever get there or is even trying to get there. For now, Outlook 2011, basically a Cocoa warmed over Entourage 2008, is probably the best "office automation" tool.
For Lion, I do love love love what Apple is trying to do. Very user friendly stuff. Trying to solve the basics for users. Users should backup (wish Apple would just ship all Macs with dual drives -credit John Siracusa for this). Users should not have to worry about lost data after an app crash or accidental document closer. Users should not have to worry about installation or finding where apps are.
Autosave, Resume, Versions, Launchpad, Mac App Store and previous things like Time Machine are quite cool for users. Curious how Versions is going to work. That can get FUBAR pretty quick. Airdrop sounds like a renamed and revved Bonjour.

Wow, full-screen apps and Mission Control allowing you to show all your open apps at once. Almost like WIndows Vista...

I was thinking that too. And doesn't AirDrop sound a lot like Homegroup?
Though I'm curious to see how FileVault compares to BitLocker.

SUMMER, WHAT?!?! If they already have a version that is downloadable and usable by the public(developers) then how is it going to take them till summer to release the commercial version?!?!

Summer is probably too early as I'd bet a lot money that the release will have its share of critical bugs and unfinished software. Some stated "features" may not even show up (I'm looking at your FileVault with full disk encryption). Not only that, it'll probably be 10.7.3 before it's a solid release.
It takes a lot time and effort to polish a product. A lot of time and effort. You know how it goes: the remaining 10% of work is 90% of the effort.

Worst use of Windows ever. I don't know why they even bother letting people keep so many icons on your desktop with the performance it it causes. The new Start menu pretty much eliminates any needs for icons on your desktop anyways.

Those aren't desktop icons. That's the display of launchpad, which turns your screen into a similar view of an iOS device.

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