The day has come! First shown back in October, Apple has finally launched Mac OS X Lion ($30), and brought with it a lot of goodies from iOS. It contains over 250 new features including multitouch gestures, full screen applications, Mission Control, new features for the Mac App Store, Launchpad, resume, Auto Save, Versions, AirDrop, and a new Mail.app. Time to start clearing out a few gigs on your hard drive—four, to be exact—for this one. But there are also a couple of surprises—it’s no longer “Mac OS X,” and Lion Server is a separate $50 download. Read on for more on what’s new.
Multitouch gestures eliminate the need for scroll bars, allow for Smart Zoom just like on iOS devices, and create an overall smoother touch-based experience. The Mac App store is now the number one channel for buying Mac software, passing Best Buy, Walmart, and Office Depot. Now apps support in-app purchases, push notifications, and more. Launchpad displays all of your apps, just like the home screens on your iPad or iPhone.
With new resume features, your Mac automatically remember all of your open apps and windows, opening them when you restart the machine. Auto save does just what it sounds like, eliminating the need to constantly be pressing command-s. Versions is like Time Machine for your auto saved documents; each time a document auto-saves, the changes are logged and you can go back to previous versions at any point.
AirDrop is for sharing files between Macs easily and efficiently, using drag and drop. And the new Mail application is based off of that on the iPad, with features like really cool search and threaded conversation view. Surprising many users, Lion Server is a separate app for $50. That’s not bad for either version, given that Apple’s past releases have cost $129 for the basic version and $499 for the server software.
Don’t expect to pick the upgrade up at your local Apple Store—at least not at first. Lion is only available in the Mac App Store. For $30. For all your personal Macs. Cool. If you don’t have access to broadband or just don’t feel like using all the bandwidth at home, you can stop in any of Apple’s retail stores to download the OS right now. Starting in August, you’ll also be able to buy it on a USB thumb drive for $69. For the price though, you’re definitely better off with the download.