Apple didn't reveal too much about the next iteration of their operating system, but from what we learned today, here's a look at what you can expect when Mac OS X Lion is released in mid 2011.
In a nutshell: iOS.
Apple's clearly spent much more time with iOS than the Mac as of late, and they want to take what they've learned with mobile operating systems and apply it to Mac OS X. This means more multitouch gestures, an App Store and iOS-like interface elements.
Mission Control = Exposé + Spaces
Mission Control is basically an upgraded Exposé, adding new views and methods of organisation to make it easier to navigate through all the windows on your Mac. Windows are now grouped into application views and you can peek at each of them easily with the mouse. All these applications views are also organised by your spaces (virtual desktops), and you can now flick through spaces with multitouch gestures. These improvements are pretty minor, but seem like a more intuitive approach to navigating through the inevitable everyday window clutter on your Mac.
The scary part: From the language Apple used to describe it, it looks like Mission Control may do away with Spaces altogether. We love Spaces, so that could be unfortunate.
The (Mac) App Store and LaunchPad
Apple's iOS App Store has clearly made the platform what it is and Apple's decided to bring that to Mac OS X. The Mac App Store runs as its own app and automates both installation and updates for the user. Downloaded apps come with a licence for all your personal Macs. While it sounds like this is a good thing — in the sense that Apple isn't limiting installations — they didn't elaborate on copy-protection and how it'll work with the Mac.
Whether you download an app from the official App Store or you grab it elsewhere, all your apps are now accessible in your LaunchPad. LaunchPad is an application that's very similar to what you'd find on an iOS device homescreen, giving you a springboard for all your apps that can be organised by pages and into folders.
If you've used an iOS device and purchased apps, you'll find familiarity in the App Store-related features in Mac OS X Lion. On the plus side, if the App Store is something you're looking forward to, Apple plans to release a copy for Snow Leopard when launching the store in 90 days.
While Apple didn't elaborate too much on the other mentioned features (of which there were few), there are plans to bring fullscreen mode to applications — adding the ability to maximise a window.
Other app-centric features include auto-saving content so you don't have to worry about losing it in a crash and auto-resuming an app when you open it back up so you don't have to waste any time getting back to where you left off.
Presumably these features are simply new APIs for developers, but historically, Apple's made it pretty simple to integrate these sorts of things into apps so developers can add them in time for the new OS' release.
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is slated for release in mid-2011 and no developer preview is available yet, so there's likely a bit more coming as we grow closer to that date. Conveniently, Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) will happen right about the same time, so more details and other features may not be divulged until then.