Apple confirmed today that it will begin selling OS X Lion, the company’s next-generation operating system for traditional computers, tomorrow, July 20th. I hope you have your $29 ready, you’ll want to get this upgrade.
This announcement, which was made official at the company’s quarterly earnings call, follows Apple’s promise to ship Lion "in July". Starting tomorrow, millions of geeks will be able to finally upgrade their macs to the newest operating systems.
But what’s new in Lion exactly? A lot. Unlike Snow Leopard, Apple’s previous upgrade for OS X, Lion includes several major new features that will impact everyday users. Most innovations are centered around usability and the user interface, bringing some interface paradigms from iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system, wherever it makes sense. In Apple’s own words, the goal of this release was to take some lessons the company had learned from building the iPhone and the iPad and porting them to traditional computers, or more specifically, the Mac.
LaunchPad, for example, is a Mac port of the "Home Screen" in iOS, allowing users to access all the applications installed on the machine. Previously, users were required to access the applications folder, which is still necessary to remove apps that haven’t been downloaded from the official Mac App Store.
There are also features designed to make the operating system more reliable, such as Resume, which memorizes the state of all the running apps once the system is shut down so they can be launched after the system boots back up. Another new feature, known as Autosave, will automatically save files as they’re edited, even if the user doesn’t voluntarily save them.
All of these features are blended together with an improved user interface that takes cues from iOS. Scrolling, for example, works the way iOS users have been used to for years by taking advantage of a multi-touch TrackPad or mouse, which is supplied with new Macs but can be purchased separately as well.
Lion is also the first OS to be distributed exclusively as an online download, as opposed to previous versions which were only sold in stores. The download will be available on the Mac App Store, which came to Mac OS X earlier this year through an update. Before installing Lion, you’ll need to get the Mac OS X 10.6.8 update from Software Update. You can read our write-up here on what you should do in order to prepare your Mac for the OS X Lion upgrade.