Blog Post

OS X Lion: Lessons Learned From iOS

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Yes, the name for Mac OS X 10.7 is Lion. Steve Jobs introduced the new OS today by going into the philosophy behind the new features. Lion is going to take what Apple (s aapl) has learned from iOS and apply it to OS X. As Jobs puts it, “Mac OS X meets the iPad.” The Apple CEO laid out six things they’ve learned from developing iOS that they want to apply to OS X:

  1. Multi-touch gestures
  2. The App Store
  3. App home screens
  4. Full-screen apps
  5. Autosave
  6. Apps resume when launched

Craig Federighi, VP of engineering for OS X, demoed four of the new features: a Mac App Store, a home screen-style app switcher known as Launchpad, full-screen apps, and a new way to “instantly navigate to anywhere” called Mission Control.

Mac App Store

The new App Store is going to be integrated into Lion. It works exactly the same way as the App Store on iOS, but with Mac software. It has icons in the toolbar that work the same way as the tabs on the iOS version. Jobs mentioned six characteristics of the new store:

  1. Best place to discover apps (but not the only one).
  2. One click downloads.
  3. Free and paid apps (Developers get 70% revenue).
  4. Automatic installation.
  5. Automatic application updates.
  6. Applications licensed for use on all personal Macs.

The Mac App Store is coming in 90 days to Snow Leopard, too, so we won’t have to wait that long to get our hands on it. It’ll probably require a system update when it does arrive.


Launchpad can be summed up as the iOS home screen for Mac; a full-screen grid of all your applications laid out over the desktop (but not obscuring the Dock or Menubar). It works the exact same way as on iOS: You even get folders and multiple pages. You can navigate around Launchpad by flicking left and right on your trackpad or Magic Mouse.

Honestly, I can’t see myself using this much. I mean, why not just use Spotlight to launch things? From the demo, it appears to be just a separate application in the Dock, so it doesn’t look like Apple will be forcing you to use it, luckily.

Full-screen Apps

Of course, on an iPad, every application is full-screen. But on the Mac, having everything work that way just isn’t practical, so Apple’s found a way to get the best of both worlds. In Lion, clicking on the green “zoom” button will make your application go full-screen. It wasn’t made clear whether the zoom button would always make an app full-screen, or whether it’ll be application-specific.

Mission Control

Jobs mentioned four things that they have in OS X now: Exposé, Full-screen apps, Dashboard, and Spaces. Lion will combine these elements into a new feature known as Mission Control. Basically, it’s Exposé on steroids.

There will be a new gesture to trigger Mission Control, and when you do, you’ll get all of your open windows, but with several new features. Full-screen apps appear at the top, along with a shortcut for the desktop and Dashboard. Regular windows appear below that, and windows from the same application are grouped together, much like stacks in webOS 2.0 (s hpq).

Availability and Other Features

The two features Jobs didn’t go into in-depth were autosaving and apps resuming when launched. Autosave is easy to grasp, but I wonder how it’s going to be accomplished. Say you create a new document in TextEdit. Where is the document saved? If my Mac crashes, and I haven’t given the document a name yet, then how do I get to the document?

The other feature, app resuming, is harder to imagine. OS X already has multitasking, so why do we need the kind of “not really” multitasking found in iOS?

As for availability, OS X Lion is coming Summer of 2011, and according to Jobs is right on schedule to make that release window.

Which new feature are you most looking forward to? What else do you want to see that wasn’t mentioned?

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

26 Responses to “OS X Lion: Lessons Learned From iOS”

  1. So Far BORING.The only thing here that would use is autosave, and that isn’t worth $.25. It looks Apple is going to use a pile of eye candy to persuade people to upgrade.

    That’s a Microsoft trick,but Apple’s has been going that route lately, so no big surprise.

  2. francisg

    So far unimpressed. Launch pad might be great if you have 20 or 30 apps. Full screen? No, thank you. I continually use multiple programs together for each what they do best.
    App store downloads? I wonder how long it might take to download Logic Pro with it’s many DVDs full of apple loops and sample files?
    The only thing that I like so far is that my APPLE stock will continue to go up.

    • To the haters: How can you people say things like “unimpressive, I won’t get Lion?” You may not need of be impressed by the features that have been made public but, as has been pointed out repeatedly, Steve Jobs has said at least 3 times that there will be more features. Maybe they will be the best features. Shouldn’t you wait until they make public all the features and specs before making up your mind? Oh, by the way, who do you think cares whether or not you upgrade to Lion? Upgrades aren’t mandatory and not for everybody. I know people running Tiger and Panther who are quite satisfied with it because it does what they need it to do. Why are you so egotistical and negative. You don’t have to like it but do you have to be a downer and a hater when expressing your opinions? What a rude society we are devolving into.

  3. Ames Tiedeman

    I am tired of downloading new software that only makes my MacBok Pro slower. I am going to wait and see if this thing roars like a Lion or runs like a snail. Also, is this really necessary? I need to research what capabilities I will gain and if I will ever utilize them..

  4. With the release of Lion in Summer 2011, that might stop me from upgrading to Snow Leopard right now. Should I be upgrading to Snow, one of the few reasons would be because of iLife 11. Other than that, I’d probably wait for Lion.

  5. I was not impressed by Lion but I wasn’t bored, rather I was shocked that Apple would tout such blatantly useless eye candy as the great new Apple OS. I don’t think even Microsoft has been that stupid– Although they have been close.

    I’ll pass on lion which perhaps would be better named Pussy-cat. Its certainly the only lion I’ve ever seen that meowed instead of roaring.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      Automatic app installs and updates and syncing between multiple Macs is eye candy? Autosave and auto resume are eye candy? More multitouch gestures is eye candy? Enhanced app and window switching is eye candy? A standard way to trigger full screen (which many apps already have, but they all get in and out in their own way) is eye candy?

      If you were distracted by the way things look and failed to grasp the amount of I-T overhead and busywork that was reduced by this short list of preview features, maybe you should read about the features or get someone to explain them to you instead of watching the video demo.

  6. Although I understand what you were getting at, the TextEdit example isn’t the best one—TextEdit already autosaves. If your computer crashes and you have unsaved TextEdit documents in play, when you open TextEdit again, all of them open up. You can see them in user->library->autosave information.

  7. I’m in two minds about Lion. The features do look useful, but I was trying to work out where the key new addition was. For Tiger it was Expose, for Leopard it was Time Machine, for Snow Leopard it was the interface changes and the speed improvements (Snow Leopard was only a minor upgrade after all). But where’s the thing that I’m supposed to go, “wow, that’s really going to change my whole computing experience”?

    I feel like there’s more to come. Let’s not forget the job that Apple had up for grabs in June. The one that’s looking for someone to work on “Something totally new. Something that has never been done before and will truly amaze everyone”. The job that requires a candidate who has “up close and personal experience with the HTTP protocol as well as other protocols layered atop it”. Do any of the new features fit this description? The only one that might is the Mac App Store, but that doesn’t seem to fit the bill since we’ve all seen the App Store on iOS.

    I think there’s more to come and they’re holding back.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      Mac App Store is the thing that revolutionizes your computing experience. It is an Exposé or Time Machine level feature. No more CD/DVD, no more apps telling you “update me” when you launch them, no more serial numbers, no more authorizations, no more disk images, no more helping your friend install Photoshop, no more suites of apps you don’t want filling out a CD/DVD (e.g. iWork is split up in Mac App Store, you can buy Keynote alone for $19.99), no more crapware installing along with the app you bought (hello Adobe you poor confused bastards), no more patchers, no more patchers that don’t work (Adobe again) and even with all that I-T work removed, we will all use more apps than we do today.

      Yes, there is more to come. Jobs said so at least 3 times.

  8. I am an Apple power-user and I was blown away.
    As with iOS, this is all about following Nintendo’s Wii strategy — bring people who don’t like video games (computers) into the fold, while not alienating hardcore gamers (computer users).

    1) Launchpad is not for us. It’s for our parents & spouses.

    2) There have always been many ways to install Mac applicatons, which is confusing to parents & spouses. The Mac AppStore solves that.

    3) Keeping your apps up-to-date has always been a pain, for everyone. The Mac AppStore solves that.

    4) Microsoft has nothing resembling an AppStore. They must be scrambling right now.

    5) I assume AutoSave will use a new (hidden) temp directory until you choose where to actually save. Maybe you never have to choose, but can if you so choose. This is killer for students (who always lose their work), parents, & spouses.

    6) Mission Control is great for everyone.

    I think Lion already has plenty of “ROAR”, and I can’t wait to see the rest.

  9. I suppose somebody will bring a Launchpad clone to 10.6. And I might just download it to try it out.
    Mission Control seems really interesting, but I hope the Dashboard will still appear on top of my desktop.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      That is ridiculous. Making it easier to install and launch Mac OS apps does not turn Mac OS into iOS. Full screen apps are already a growing trend on the Mac … some apps with full-screen modes include TextMate, Scrivener, Aperture, and Photoshop. Making a standard way to get into full-screen and switch between multiple full-screen apps does not turn Mac OS into iOS. Auto Save is also a trend on the Mac … the whole iLife suite does it for about a decade now, Aperture does it. Mac OS already does instant-on for a decade now … flash storage just makes it more instant.

      All we saw here is Mac OS continuing to evolve. A Mac OS Lion user running Photoshop and Illustrator and AppleScript Editor and BBEdit and Apache and PHP and Safari with a dozen Extensions is not running iOS.

  10. Good features for novices and switchers, but nothing that gets me as a power-user excited. Autosave would be nice, but I hope it will make an appearance in iWork before summer 2011.

    Speaking of iWork, am I the only one missing an update to that suite?

    • Rest assured, you’re nto alone: I miss it too…
      Seriously, the more I think about yesterday’s event, the more I feel disappointed. I was really looking forward to a revamped Pages and Numbers. I love those two applications, and use them on an almost daily basis.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      There was an update to iWork: the iPad versions. There are iPhone versions coming soon. iWork is moving faster and making much more progress than MS Office and is a quarter of the price.

  11. As of this moment, I must admit that I’m rather unimpressed with Lion. But I guess they are keeping the ‘wow’ for next year, during the unveiling…

    When it comes to iLife… iPhoto’s ‘new’ features are not that impressive, and I deplore the fact that– once more — iDVD and the fabulous iWeb have not been upgraded! I was really expecting Apple to bring life back to iWeb.

    Overall, I have some mixed feeling…. I was really expecting more! I wanted to be wowed, just like with the release of the iPad…

  12. Thoroughly uninterested. I’m not seeing how “Apps” really translate over to the desktop experience. Does this justify a new OS? I’m just checking in now on the update, so let’s hope there is some more actual news.

    • Apps translate to the desktop/iMac because I think that they plan on releasing a touch-screen iMac this summer. Do any of you remember the patent Apple filed for a swiveling iMac stand? I think that they are going to make the iMac into not only a regular desktop but also a touch device when oriented horizontally. That’s why they have integrated so much of iOS into Lion.

      • Jon, patents don’t necessarily mean real-world implementation, yet, anyway. I think the fact that the MacBook Air isn’t touchscreen shows that Apple is not currently interested in making that happen with the Macs. Like Steve said, it’s just a bit too cumbersome to even swivel the iMac up and down all the time JUST to use touch. There’s not enough of an advantage for Apple to do this. That’s why they released a big ass trackpad not long ago — to make all this “touch” stuff possible.

      • Bart Hanson

        Jon, I think you are bang on, the Magic Trackpad is also just another way to encourage the new input method. RIP the mouse. I don’t use one now, Magic Trackpad for the Desktop 27″ iMac and the Multi Gesture Trackpad built into my MacBook Pro. THIS is the future, App Stores, iOS and walled gardens are just where the money gets made. Mind you, that’s not shabby either!

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      No translation is required. The Mac also has apps … they’re the original. The filename extension of every Mac app is “.app”. But there are many problems with the Mac app platform that are fixed on iOS. Apps on iOS don’t tell you they need to be updated when you run them, they don’t have a variety of convoluted installation procedures, they don’t require optical discs, you don’t have to type in a 16 character hex code to get them to run. The idea that Apple wouldn’t fix those problems on the Mac makes no sense at all. If you want to use Photoshop, why should you have to do a ton of I-T work? Why not just click “INSTALL” and your credit card is charged and Photoshop appears in your Dock? Me, I’m still using CS3 because Adobe’s installers and process is so awful I stopped upgrading just for that reason. They install folders, a bunch of crapware, it is a disaster. You can’t move the apps out of the folders or they fail, the updaters sometimes take an hour to run.

      This is the best thing to happen to the Mac app platform since Mac OS X. People who have never installed a 3rd party Mac app will now buy and use 10 or more in the first few months of Mac App Store. And there will be less I-T work for everyone, more just using the apps.