Apple provided a sneak peek today at the next upgrade for its Mac OS X operating system, called "Lion," that is heavily inspired by the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch's shared iOS operating system.
At an event billed as "Back to the Mac," Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed how some key software and user interface insights gained in the production of the smash hit tablet computer will now be rolled out for Apple's desktops and laptops.
The new operating system is dubbed Lion in keeping with the big cat naming theme the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has used over the last decade.
Mac App Store
First up is a new App Store for the Mac. Software applications, or apps, have taken the mobile world by storm in recent years: Jobs said that there have been over seven billion downloads from the App Store for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Now Apple's personal computers users will be able to get in on the smorgasbord. Although Lion will not actually come out until summer 2011, Jobs said, the Mac App Store will open within 90 days and Apple will begin accepting developer's app submissions in November. The current Mac operating system, known as Snow Leopard, will be able to handle the App Store until Lion roars on in.
These new apps will also have a full screen mode, replicating the obviously well-liked experience users have had on their mobile devices and tablets.
Another way in which the iPad has influenced the next version of the Mac OS is a new feature called Launchpad. By clicking the Launchpad icon in the Dock -- the icon-filled navigation bar at the bottom of the screen -- users can see all of their Mac apps at once. This menu is navigable using multi-touch gestures on an Apple Magic Mouse or on the Apple computer track pads.
Users can make folders as well to group similar apps and newly downloaded apps show up here as well.
Another new Mac OS X Lion feature is called Mission Control. It is an updated version of a tool called Exposé that lets users quickly find an open window for a running program on their machine. Other standalone features called Dashboard (for desktop widgets) and Spaces (for making virtual desktops) are now unified under Mission Control as well.
A single swipe on a multi-touch interface brings the user this "bird's-eye view," as Apple describes it, of everything presently running on the machine.
Overall, Apple has learned a great deal for its desktop and laptop computers -- at this point a third of the company's revenue -- from its successful forays into the mobile world of phones, music players and tablet computers.
"We think bringing these things back to Mac . . . will really delight Mac users," Jobs said.
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