Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) Due in July

Apple’s upcoming Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) is due in July. It will sell for $29.99 (Macs bought on or after June 6 qualify for free upgrades to Lion) and won’t be distributed on disc — only by download.

Apple says Lion includes more than 250 new features, including:

  • System-wide Multi-Touch Support, similar to iPad and iPhone finger-based gesture support. It includes momentum scrolling, the ability to pinch to zoom Web pages and images, and swipe gestures for turning pages in documents or moving to other apps. It takes advantage of the Multi-Touch trackpad built into newer Macs, as well as Apple’s Magic Trackpad.
  • Applications can now be viewed in full-screen mode, hiding the Mac OS X desktop and menu bar.
  • The Mission Control feature combines the earlier Dashboard, Spaces and Exposé features, and adds the ability to view all open apps that are in Full Screen mode.
  • The Launchpad feature displays applications much like the Home screen on the iPhone and iPad. App icons are arranged in a grid, and users can organize apps in Launchpad folders.
  • The Resume feature adds the ability to jump back to the final state of an application after it has been quit. Panels, document states and positions, and more are all exactly as they were — even after a restart of your Mac.
  • Auto Save is a new system-wide feature that saves documents as you work, and it saves document histories, much like Snow Leopard’s Time Machine feature keeps older document versions.
  • The Versions feature maintains the history of changes made to a document, lets you access those older versions, and even includes the ability to copy content from older documents and paste it into newer versions.
  • The AirDrop feature looks for other Macs within 30 feet (without a wireless network!) and lets you share files without setup time.
  • Screen Sharing now lets you log into a remote Mac and perform operations without interrupting anyone using a different login.
  • Windows Migration can migrate all the information from a PC to your new Mac.
  • New Mail application with substantially more robust search features, a redesigned two and three column layout designed for widescreen displays, Microsoft Exchange 2010 support, and more.

What it won’t do: Rosetta. If you have older software that requires Apple’s Rosetta environment to run, it won’t! (Example: Quicken For Mac 2007 and earlier.)

Since Mac OS X Lion will be available only as a download through the Mac App Store, which means you will first need to install Mac OS X 10.6, or Snow Leopard, before installing the Lion upgrade. Apple’s upgrade instructions hint that the 4GB updater will download as an installer that users run, so it may be possible to save the Lion installer for future use. Lion also creates a special restore partition on your hard drive for repairing or reinstalling the OS.

Note: Your Mac must have an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor to run Lion — that includes all Macs introduced in August 2006 and later, or August 2007 for the Mac mini. You can check your processor by choosing About this Mac under the Apple menu.