OS X Lion: Lessons Learned From iOS


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 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.

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?

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