Top 10 New Features in Mac OS X Lion

by Reads (6,405)

Numbers 6 – 10

Mission Control
We’ve talked about Mission Control before, but with Lion rapidly approaching, it’s time to take another look.  The new utility, like so many in Lion, improves upon Snow Leopard’s featureset in an exciting way. Just swipe three fingers upward on your trackpad or Magic Mouse, and all of your running apps coalesce along with Dashboard, in elegant piles and squares.

Apple Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

All of your open windows are grouped by application, and full-screen apps get thumbnail views. See something you want? Just click to it and you’re on your way.  Apple seems to be doing their best to remove the need for opening and closing applications from the end user, imploring them to let the OS handle all of that while they go merrily clicking on their way.

Full-Screen Applications
I feel a little annoyed for having to write about this as a feature.  After all, the maximize button has been available on Windows and Linux computers since, oh, I dunno, ALWAYS. Still, Apple does a great job of making things pretty, and their new take on full-screen applications is no different.  This is yet another influence of iOS on the desktop, focusing the user totally on the task at hand instead of distracting them with competing apps.

Apple Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

The real feather in the cap here is the style that Apple gives each of their homegrown software titles – when they maximize them, they really do an excellent job of conscientiously using up the extra space. Cupertino explicitly pointed out that this is yet another system-wide hook, which means that if they want to put the hours in, third party developers can access the new full-screen icon and app switching functionality.

Apple Mac OS X 10.7 LionAirDrop
AirDrop is frankly a little bit brilliant. Making local file sharing easier than ever, AirDrop is Apple’s war on USB drives. With Wi-Fi turned on, start up AirDrop – anyone who’s also using it will appear in a list on your screen.  It works a lot like the Pictochat functionality on Nintendo’s DS handheld consoles.

If you’re pals, or at least Contacts, with the people, AirDrop will pull their info from the system’s Address Book. If you want to transfer something to them, such as a file or photo, just drag it on top of their name. When they accept the transfer, the software will start sending it automatically.

Apple Mac OS X 10.7 LionFileVault
FileVault has been around since at least OS X v10.3, but the new version in OS X v10.7 is better than ever. The new software encrypts all of the information on your system at the disk level using high-security XTS-AES 128-bit algorithms. Apple claims that the initial encryption process is “fast and unobtrusive”, though how much faster remains to be seen.

The software’s functionality isn’t limited to internal storage media, either. FileVault can encrypt any or all of the external drives you might hook up to it.  Perhaps most powerfully, however, is the deletion mechanisms it provides to Mac users.  Put in your password and with a couple of keystrokes – BAM! – all of your data is wiped from your Mac.

Price
Price seems like an odd feature for an operating system upgrade, but hear me out.  When Apple released Snow Leopard last year, they made a point of pricing the upgrade at just $29.99.  Part of that was to shoot an arrow across the bow of Microsoft, who typically charges a minimum of $99 to upgrade to the latest and greatest Windows OS, and part of that was because Snow Leopard was considered by most to be an incremental upgrade at best, and not really worth the exorbitant pricing costs.

What’s fascinating, then, is how Apple is charging the same price – just $29.99 – for Mac OS v10.7. Lion. The new operating system has a large list of changes (Apple likes to brag about there being over 250 new features, and no doubt fanboys will start counting on release day), and certainly enough that no one would bat at eye at a $50 or $70 upgrade charge.  The fact that the new OS is only $30 shows that Apple is playing to win, and it means that Microsoft should consider themselves put on notice. Buying a cheaper PC is fine, but when the next OS might cost you an extra hundred+ dollars over the equivalent fact, it could be enough to change customers’ minds.

There are a number of features, big and small, that we didn’t have time to get into today, like how iOS’ word auto correction feature is hitting OS X, or the new Mail client that brings new threaded conversations to the party.  A noticeable absentee from all the hoopla was FaceTime, so it’ll be interesting to see how deep Apple incorporates the video-chatting software. Did we miss out on your favorite new reason to buy a Mac? Sound off in the comments below.



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