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Summary:

The invite from Apple’s “Back to the Mac” event clearly shows an image of a lion, which strongly suggests that the next iteration of OS X is going to be announced. But what new features will “Lion” bring? Here’s a list of interesting possibilities.

OSX-Lion-feature

The invite from Apple’s “Back to the Mac” event clearly shows an image of a lion, which strongly suggests that the next iteration of OS X is going to be announced. But what new features will ‘Lion’ bring? Here’s a list of some things to expect (and some you shouldn’t).

Most Likely

A UI redesign. The release of iTunes 10 brought some graphical changes, namely the rearrangement of the “traffic light” window controls, and the lack of color in the sidebar. It’s likely we’ll see changes similar to this across the board in 10.7, as this has happened before; first the UI of iTunes gets a makeover, then OS X follows suit a while later. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing this, as the colorless sidebar has sort of grown on me.

An update to iChat. When FaceTime was announced, we were told it wasn’t just going to be for the iPhone 4. The latest iPod touch can now do FaceTime, so the next obvious move would be to include it in iChat, the built-in IM client of OS X. Since iChat already handles video calling, adding FaceTime should be easy. Having FaceTime on Macs would really extend the reach of the service.

Probable

Front Row refresh. Front Row has been neglected for the past few years; it hasn’t seen an update since OS X 10.5, back in 2007. iTunes U and other newly introduced iTunes content doesn’t work in Front Row. Even if the interface doesn’t get changed (it needs a new look, but Apple kept things pretty much the same with the new Apple TV), support for iTunes LP and iTunes U should at least be introduced so you can enjoy all your content from across the room.

Changes to the Finder. While it would be nice to see some new features such as tabbed Finder windows, I think it’s more likely that we’ll just minor changes to the Finder. For example, maybe a Dock-like auto-hide for the sidebar. Speaking of the Dock, I’d like to see features like those in HyperDock made native, especially the Windows 7-esque window previews. Won’t hold my breath on Apple taking a cue from Microsoft, though.

Unlikely

Virtual machines. I know that 10.5 introduced Boot Camp, where you can dual-boot into another OS besides OS X, but even though it’s something users would appreciate, somehow I can’t see an implementation of something like Parallels or VMWare (where you can run two operating systems at once) being added to 10.7. I think Apple would see it as a memory hog, and appealing to only a relatively small audience.

Absolutely no chance

Running iOS on a Mac. For a while now, the rumor’s been making the rounds that Apple will soon announce iOS compatibility with Mac computers. Heck, I’ve even heard that OS X is going to be replaced by an upscaled version of iOS. While it may sound good in theory, in reality, there’s just no way it could work.

On the iPad, we’ve already seen that iPhone apps run at twice the size in compatibility mode can look horrendous. Now imagine if you were running one at triple or even quadruple size to run it on a Mac. It would be unusable. And another thing — what about multi-touch? How would you go about emulating a two- three- or four-finger gesture using a computer mouse? Yes, the Magic Mouse and the new trackpads can recognize gestures, but only in general. They can’t work out the position of where you wanted the gesture to be on screen. Unless Apple reveals a whole range of touchscreen computers on Wednesday, iOS on a Mac will remain a pipe dream.

Our Personal Wish Lists

  • High on my priority list would be a UI refresh, new Finder features (tabbed windows especially), and fixes for the bugs that have sprung up since Snow Leopard.
  • Geoffrey Goetz would like to see Apple tie up the loose ends that have shown up in its products.
  • Bryan Schuetz wants an update to Spaces, the virtual desktop feature of OS X.
  • Charles Jade has been thinking about Front Row, and whether it’s turned into abandonware since Apple TV 2 was released.
  • Darrell Etherington just wants FaceTime to come to the Mac so that he can actually use it on his iPhone 4 somewhere outside of the Apple Store.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

  1. I’m pretty sure that Lion will have native multitouch support, so that when the multitouch screen iMacs and Macbook pros are released (didn’t Apple patent something like that recently?) you’ll be able to interact with them directly by moving your fingers on the screen!

    1. This won’t happen. Apple made a new OS for touchscreens – iOS, because Mac OS isn’t for that. And an iOS Macbook? Ain’t gonna happen.

      1. Agreed. Even if touch senstitve workstations do appear. they will not be running iOS. iOS’s primary reason for being is NOT multi touch events, its mobile computing. have you ever wondered why iOS is 200MB and OSX is 4GB. its cause 90% of OSX is gone because its uneccessary. iOS was designed from the ground up for a complete and total different hardware platform then anything that would be useful as a workstation.

        Rather then thinking iOS is going to replace OSX, how bout just adding touch events to the first responder chain in a future OSX release…duh. And i doubt thats gonna happen this year.

  2. The externals, like tabbed Finder windows, aren’t that important. What is needed are updates to the most ancient portion of OS X, which is text services. It’s a sad blend of WordStar circa 1982 (ruler bars) and Word circa 1990 (limited rtf support). That condemns all but the most well-funded of text apps to look and function like they were 20 years out of date.

    The lack of tagged text (named paragraph and text styles) is particularly galling, since it makes repurposing documents for paper, web, and digital devices much, much harder. It’s stupid almost beyond belief to assume that what a user wants to do is define various font sizes when the documents he creates may be displayed on everything from a 27-inch LCD to a 3.5-inch iPhone screen. We need to be able to define the meaning of a portion of text and let the device determine how that displays.

    And Apple needs to make sending files to iPhones, iPads and (yes) Kindles as easy as printing them to paper. The File menu needs a digital option that knows how to send files to our mobile devices as easily as it distinguished between several printers. And finally OS X needs to handle epub (and perhaps mobi) as easily and natively as it does PDF.

  3. It’ll probably include whatever this Apple job advertisement was about:

    “We are looking for a senior software engineer to help us create a revolutionary new feature in the very foundations of Mac OS X. We have something truly revolutionary and really exciting in progress and it is going to require your most creative and focused efforts ever.”

    http://www.macrumors.com/2010/07/29/apple-job-posting-suggests-revolutionary-new-mac-os-x-feature/

  4. tabbed finder windows i believe would be atop many people’s list

    i would like a hotkey that would make a finder folder et appear under the mouse button (kinda like the menu items that appear in 3d progs like maya and c4d when you hit the v key) – i like the sidebar but i don’t like having too many things in it.. i’d like to get to my ~user/music folder without havin to always go to the sidebar’s home first or to the sidebar itself

    another very important thing personally… i really enjoy my os experiences but i’d like some changes in parts of the ui that haven’t seen an upgrade in a while – especially the floating palettes and windows with the small toolbars – e.g. the font palettes, the colour palettes etc. These were a great way for 3rd party developers to use built in os apis to provide these widgts for their software without havin to code them.. but now they haven’t really seen a upgrade since tiger at best.

    i’d like more home server functions built in – i need to be able to stream from my mac without havin to buy an app! – also they should have more server features which will allow one computer act as a hub for the family… a central file storage and back up system… a single computer to serve media to all the other idevices and mac -and a centralised update system which means that i don’t need to download the same 1gb os update for 3 macs i have at home!

    facetime should not be a 10.7 upgrade but should be available to 10.5 and 10.6 users too

    i am expecting dashboard to become an ios compatible touch system layer that can run ipad apps.. not somethin i particularly care for but i can see it drive game apps sales even more but i hope it doesn’t hurt normal mac development

    add a mute button for safari

    change itunes to iconsume – maybe we’ll get a better icon

    add back and forth buttons to mail

    thus ends my xmas list for santa jobs

  5. Although I agree about tabbed finder windows, it doesn’t affect me because I’ve been using PathFinder for a while now, and I’m not looking back.

    What I’ve been waiting for is Resolution Independence. The new iTunes interface scales beautifully using Quartz Debugger’s scaling tool, so I’m hopeful.

    Here is my other idea: “Space”, not “Spaces”.

    First, when you press F8, instead of seeing some number of separate desktops, you see one large desktop with a rectangle showing your current window, your view. You would still have the same abilities of moving windows around, using expose. In addition, you could drag your view around. when you finish the drag, you would zoom into your view.

    Second, when in the normal working view, you could drag your view around to see things to the sides. Perhaps when dragging windows to the edge of the screen, your view would pan in that direction. The menubar and dock would remain in place, as in spaces.

    Apple could provide a simple option in the control panel letting users select “Space” or “Spaces”.

  6. Please don’t talk about ultimately minor color changes as if they are anything but minor.

    1. NTSF file system

  7. So it appears not much is being done, which is good news. I think the core OSX is pretty stable now. They would only need to do a proper finder, it’s incredible how crappy it is. Actually they should buy Path Finder.

  8. I see nothing in any of these suggestions that would cause me to cough up $129 or for that matter $29 for Lion. As a matter of fact, if it winds up a beefed-up iOS or includes iOS’s dictatorial software rules, i wouldn’t put it on my power mac or mac book if Apple paid me $129.

  9. Running existing iOS software – no (for the reasons you outlined, plus CPU incompatibility, etc).

    On the other hand, I can see a good argument for making it easier for people to port iOS apps back to OS X, especially if they intend to add touch-screens to some Macs – they’re going to want to make it easy for third parties to bring their touch-designed applications over.

    (There was a good reason why Apple renamed a lot of the APIs when forking iOS from OS X, but that reason doesn’t apply going the other way).

    What I’d like to see – a new ‘file system’ that builds on ideas from ZFS, Dropbox, BackToMyMac & Time Machine so that I basically stop thinking about where files are physically stored, but which automatically detects my ‘working set’ and keeps that on fastest most local storage, while infrequently used stuff can be aged out to slow storage. I don’t want to be manually managing space on portable devices.

    I also DON’T expect to see the fruits of the recent job advert – revolutionary features at the core of the operating system are not things you do in 3 months. .

  10. 1. Addressbook that could handle live twitter and other feeds. Better import and export features.
    2. Huge IWeb overhaul for better meta-tag creation and better SEO features. New Apple Ads? IWeb created pages are worthless to rank in Google as is.
    3. HDR creation feature in IPhotos.
    4. Have Spotlight as a larger movable window. HATE it in the upper right corner! Won’t stay open!
    5. Redo the downloads window view. HATE the black window preview viewer!
    6. Circular tower rotating dock with three sides for more app icons.

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