10 new features in OS X Lion

Mission Control OS X LionToday, at WWDC, after Steve Jobs took the stage to highlight some new features in OS X Lion, Phil Schiller and others walked the audience through 10 important new changes to the OS. There’s something for both developers and users alike in the list below.

  1. Multi-touch gestures. As laptops with trackpads now account for nearly 75 percent of Apple computer sales, OS X Lion gives full consideration for multi-touch gestures. These gestures also help bring some UI conventions from iOS devices to the desktop OS.
  2. Full-screen apps. While developers have always been able to create full-screen apps, it takes quite a bit of extra work to get it right. Apple has added specific features to Lion to make it easier for apps to go full-screen. This is another nod to the importance of the laptop market with smaller built-in screens.
  3. Mission Control. Integrates the best of Exposé and Spaces and ties it to gestures to make it even easier to switch between apps. This type of quick switching is particularly important with full-screen apps.
  4. App Store. The Mac App Store has been a great success. Apple is adding new features like in-app purchase for Mac apps and delta updates to reduce the size of downloads.
  5. Launchpad. A new way to launch apps. My impression is that full-screen makes the dock less usable and Apple is experimenting with creating an easy way to use gestures to bring a list of apps up on screen.
  6. Resume. Developers can now take advantage of system-level features in Lion to automatically save the current state of applications. Now when you relaunch the app, it will automatically resume exactly where you left off, with window positions, pallettes, documents, etc. exactly as it was.
  7. Auto-save. We’ve all lost work at one moment or another because we forgot to save a document. Lion now brings auto-save to every application and integrates closely with the next feature…
  8. Versions. Because apps are auto-saving documents frequently, Lion keeps track of all the previous versions of that document. You can browse old versions much like Time Machine for backups of older files.
  9. AirDrop. A simple way to share files over a local-area network, Airdrop will automatically discover other Macs nearby and help you securely transfer files with your permission and confirmation from your colleague.
  10. Mail. The new Mail app has been updated to use all these new features of Lion and work well in full-screen mode. There’s a new Conversation view that brings threaded email to the Mac and some new search magic to make it easier to find the message you are looking for.

I’m not sold on full-screen apps and the associated changes to Mission Control and Launchpad, but Resume, auto-save and Versions will make users’ lives much easier. What is your favorite new feature in OS X Lion?


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