Screenshot And Feature Tour Of Mac OS 10.7 Lion

Apple's newest iteration of their desktop operating system is coming mid-year, but we got a chance to play around with the developer beta to see some of the new features coming to Mac OS X. Here's what you can expect.

The main goal of Mac OS 10.7 Lion is to bring iOS-like features—particularly touch-based features—to the desktop. After some time with the upcoming OS, we can verify that it certainly does that, but it also adds a few other neat features—both for beginners and advanced users—to the desktop OS.

Below we'll walk through the new features and all the iOS-ified interface updates. Click any of the screenshots for a closer look.

NEW FEATURES

Apart from the iOS-style tweaks we knew were included, Lion actually has some pretty great new features coming. Here are a few of our favourites.

Full Disk Encryption

FileVault can now encrypt an entire disk, which is more secure than its current implementation. It even asks you if you want to encrypt your drive as soon as you install OS X—which we've learned is one of the only ways to keep an SSD secure. And, seeing that Apple's really starting to push SSD usage, it's nice to know they're thinking about it (incedentally, Lion also contains TRIM support, to keep those SSDs running in tip-top shape).

AirDrop

AirDrop is a cool new feature of the Finder that makes it really simple to share files between computers. Before, this was a somewhat confusing and frustrating process, but now you just open up Finder, see all the nearby computers with AirDrop enabled, and you can send them files just by dragging them onto their icon. AirDrop will create an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network between the two computers and transfer the files for you—fantastic for less tech-savvy users that don't know how to share files with someone sitting next to them.

Built-In Version Control

One of my favourite new features is built-in version control, which lets you roll back to previous versions of a file, just like in Time Machine. Every time you save a document, it saves a new version of it. If you want to revert (or just review) an old version of the file, you can hit a button and enter a Time-Machine like view of the file's history, which is really, really great.

Resume

Another really nice feature is session saving. When you shut down your computer, you can choose to save your session, so when you turn your computer back on, it restores all your windows, exactly as they were when you shut down. Of course, if you're on a MacBook, you can always achieve a very similar result by just closing the lid of your computer, but it's nice to have this feature for desktops, too. Similarly, when you quit an app, it will resume to the same state you left it when you restart it, which is new (and pretty convenient) for both laptop and desktop users.

THE INTERFACE

The interface is not unlike what you've come to expect from OS X. There are a few changes here and there (it looks like Apple's really going through with these monochrome icons they gave us in iTunes 10), but it won't shock you right off the bat—at least for most apps. Once you start using the desktop features, though, you'll notice some pretty big changes.

Launchpad

This is one of the features we knew was coming to Lion: an iOS-style application launcher. You can still browse applications in the Finder, but if you hit the Launchpad icon in your dock, it presents them in a nicer way. That's pretty much it. It's full screen, which means you can fit more apps on the screen and do less scrolling, which I suppose is nice, but I'm not sure why it's that necessary. You'll also notice that it displays folders in the /Applications folder like folders on iOS. Again, pretty, but not super exciting.

Mission Control

Exposé, Spaces and Dashboard are have all been combined into one view called Mission Control, and it's actually a nice improvement. Instead of spreading out all your windows, Exposé separates them by application, which makes it a bit less overwhelming when you have a lot of apps open at once. Your spaces are displayed across the top of the screen, and you can drag windows to and from spaces easily from this view. The dashboard is still the dashboard, and it's still just as isolated and useless as it was before...nothing exciting there.

Other Neat iOS-Style Elements in the Interface

These are all features we knew were coming. What we didn't learn about at Apple's presentation were the small interface tweaks that make everything a little more iOS-like. Some of these tweaks are pretty cool—the new version of Mail, for example, looks much more like the iPad app than the old version of Mail, which makes it a bit easier to browse through your messages. Threading support still isn't great, but it's pretty.

The other big thing in Lion is the focus on full screen apps. Some of the apps are just maximised versions of the window, while others, act a lot more like an iOS app in full screen mode. In Preview, for example, you can full screen a PDF or group of images and flip through them with multitouch swipe gestures, just like you would on an iPad. It's pretty neat if you want to give a specific app your full attention, but again, it seems weird for a desktop or laptop computer. It seems to me like if I was reading something in a leisurely enough style that I wasn't paying attention to anything else, I'd actually be doing it on iOS instead of my computer.

iOS-Style Elements That Are a Little Confusing

By the same token, what we didn't learn about at Apple's presentation were the small interface tweaks that, frankly, are a little confusing. For example, the dock doesn't show any lights under running applications. I have no idea why this was necessary, nor what we gain from it. In iOS, you can only really run one application at a time, but OS X isn't iOS—so it doesn't make any sense that it wouldn't tell you what apps are running alongside one another. Thankfully, if you head into System Preferences, you can put the dock lights back on.

Secondly, the whole OS has iOS-style scrollbars. What's weird, though, is that if you're used to two-finger scrolling on a trackpad, it's now backwards by default. Instead of dragging your fingers down on the trackpad to scroll down—as you do now—you drag your fingers up, like you would to flick up or down on the iPhone or iPad. Some of the writers at Lifehacker HQ found it pretty off-putting at first; others kind of like the idea. Currently there doesn't seem to be a setting to switch it back to the old style. Of course, this is a pretty early beta of the OS, so I wouldn't get too upset until we see the full version.

These likely aren't the only new features coming to Lion, but they were certainly the most prominent we found playing with the beta. Keep in mind all of this is subject to change, since it is still in the development stages, but hopefully this gives you a more in-depth view of what's in store for this summer. Got any thoughts, rants, loves, or hates about the new OS? Let's talk about it in the comments.


Comments

    There's an option in the Trackpad pane in System Preferences to turn of the backwards scrolling...

    Can i just update from my current 10.6 for free? Or do i have to buy a new OS like Window's transition from vista to 7

      You will have to pay something of course,
      this is Apple we're talking about

      Or Like Leopard to Snow Leopard

      I would guess that it is like the change between all 10.X versions and will cost money (ie the changes between 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6), hopefully it is as cheap as 10.6, although from the sounds of it, I might just stick to having the desktop version of OSX on my desktop and not this sudo iOS version.

    This is the beginning of the end for Mac. I thought Macs were supposed to be aimed at professionals like software developers, graphic designers and filmmakers. Not technophobes.

      what!!!lol...you are delusional..."beginning of the end for mac"...you wish

        See here's the thing 'bored', Apple is fashion. It is no longer niche, it is actually pretty mainstream and boring. A Cliché maybe? Like all of the lycraclad cyclists clogging our roads? No longer cool, just common. Yeh there will always be technodummies who thank Apple for letting them feel comfortable around anything with a power switch and a non-analogue interface but no-one should confuse this excitement/relief with intelligence.

      Macs are pretty much perfect for technophobes.

      Also, its nice to see OSX taking ideas from Win7. I find it amazing that it didn't have resume/hibernate support until Lion.

        Uh OSX has had Hibernate/Sleep support for Ages, what the Resume feature is talking is suspending the state of an application and resuming the application on the go. Similar to what iOS does to conserve CPU usage/battery power.

        This feature isnt new either as its a Unix thing, Apple's just decided to take advantage of it

    So the big question is, does OSX have window snapping yet?

    For scrolling direction change, I confused at first, but after a few hours of working, I began to adapt and now it's make sense.

    Since they get rid of scrollbar, what we control while using app is the page itself. So in traditional way, we drag (or scroll) down to get scroll bar down, in order to move the page up.

    Now we don't control scroll bar. Instead, we drag (or scroll) up to move the page up on the screen, like the way we interact with touch screen.

    All the confusing here is just we get used to our old way. Those with open mind will adapt quickly to the new way Apple offer us.

      No No NO! You can't say these sort of things about Apple - 'but after a few hours of working, I began to adapt,..' Apple just works! Please learn the mantra!

    Well they are almost catching up to the modern UI features of Win7. Just need them to add AeroSnap, AeroPeek... oh... and get rid of Finder and replace with something that's pleasant to use... like Explorer.

      Haha what the hell is this guy smoking?

        Sean. Don't be a cliché. Rather than knee-jerking a response to defend your preconceived ideas actually examine what Tim has written. Pretty much all of these features have existed in other OS's (and yes including Win7 - the one your parents use,..) for several years now. Apple is the world leader at making people feel special while selling them old ideas in stale hardware with a bit of lipstick and making them thank them for it. Gain some self-respect boy.

          you are starting to sound like a "cliched" apple hater que. Cliched is your favourite word , isn't it? why are you reading an article about apple if you don't like them? are you a troll??a man of your intelligence is surely not an internet troll??? or is it because no one would even give a cursory second glance to an article about microsoft/hp/toshiba/sony/compaq/asus/windows xp/vista /win7 or whatever boring generic crap is out there. Its funny how you keep bringing up windows 7. An os whose claim to fame is " Its not as S@#T as Vista" . lol

            Bored, I'm really sorry I undermined your self worth by questioning the apple sticker on your rear window (please don't tell me that is true BTW). FYI I use them all - Linux, Apple, Win7, BSD. Each have their pros and cons. Apple IMHO is a cut down OS, a 'mini-me' if you like for those who struggle with computers. It's all right, there are plenty of you. Don't feel bad.

              why would i feel bad??i have an apple

                Lollipop?

      HyperDock does all of this, and really well! http://hyperdock.bahoom.de/

        That Hyperdock looks really useful! Very much worth the $9.95, and from the above Lion upgrades is a good investment for the short term.

    But can you maximize a window to fill the whole screen? Or tile windows to fill all the available screen real estate? How about cascade? No? Okay once you've got some basic window management I'll have another look.

      oh come on...I thought you apple haters are supposed to be "TECH SAVVY" . Ok i will help you out. go to this really cool website , www.google.com. type in " HOW TO MAXIMISE a window to fill the whole screen on a mac". Follow the simple one step process.

        Bored who said OSuX is an Apple hater (:-)) Have you seen the 'Black Swan'. Worth a look. Could help you work through your paranoia.

          lol..you obviously have trouble grasping the obvious... or maybe you are suffering from an " unknown error ###"????

            No. I'm just really enjoying getting a rise out of you. You're such an easy target.

              haha..you wish troll

                Thanks for making my point so eloquently.

                  I get very much irritated by apple fan boys.. I use apple and windows myself, but i hate it when people go to the extremities to say everything apple is correct and everything else is not, may be not so bad, but gets sarcastic when people point out the things mac os x lack in a forum or post related to apple's product. They tend to jump to apple's defence without really thinking through.

    About closing the lid of a Macbook... that's just sleeping it. Sleep being something the desktop Macs do as well (available through the Apple menu, cmd-opt-eject, or power button followed by s). Resume actually re-opens applications when the computer reboots.

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