Mac OS 10.7

Once again, late to the blogsphere as usual.

Yesterday Apple announced it’s plans for the next iteration of OS X - 10.7 “Lion”. Lion will concentrate on bringing technologies “back to the Mac”, indeed this phrase was the tagline to the event on Wednesday.

In 2007 Apple released the first iPhone with what it called “iPhone OS”, this was a stripped down, mobile OS modelled on OS X. iPhone OS has jumped from iPhone to iPod Touch to the next generation of these devices - bringing the App Store, better email support, a more optimised Safari - and then found it’s way onto the iPad where it was renamed “iOS”. Through all of this Apple has brought little of it’s knowledge back to the Mac platform where it all began. Lion will put this right.

Mac OS 10.7 will have some iOS like features like an App Store for finding, buying, installing, and updating apps; Launchpad which gives an iOS-like interface for organising and launching Apps; Edge-to-Edge full screen apps; and more.

The Mac App Store raises some interesting questions, notably those mentioned by Greg over on his Managing OS X blog. It’s a great way to simply manage a whole range of applications. I’m in two minds about Launchpad, it doesn’t sound necessary on a Mac, but then again with many Macs having a trackpad (and a multi-touch trackpad at that) it could feel natural. Edge-to-Edge full screening gives you the same experience iOS apps do, you only do one thing at once; you concentrate on organising your photos, or creating that presentation, or whatever. I’m not sure this works on the desktop, I have two 22" monitors to spread many windows around, but then again I’m not an average user…

I’m interested to see more of Mac OS 10.7 “Lion”, and I don’t have too long to wait, Apple are scheduled to release it in Summer 2011. See here for the Apple page about Lion.

A few months ago I wrote a post about how I thought Apple could see a time when the humble desktop was less important than mobile computing. I think Apple have perhaps stated with Lion that they are still working on the Mac, but that they are going to shake it up and make it easier to use. I have commented to many people that the iPad is a great standalone computer for people who aren’t computer literate or are afraid of using a computer. They can’t easily delete things that they shouldn’t, they can’t download viruses easily, etc. The iPad offers a safe environment for users to install, uninstall, and update applications, and it gives a simple, consistent interface to use applications. Lion is doing the same for the desktop.

Imagine a time when the consumer desktop is easy to use, with one click you’ve bought and installed an application - it appears on your Dock or on the Launchpad - you just have one or two clicks and you’re using it. There is no need to understand that applications should live in the Applications folder (I’ve seen all too many people using applications out of Disk Images stored on their Desktops ), no need to know that your settings are stored under ~/Library/Application Support/AppX, you just have an application that is completely contained - If it goes wrong, uninstall with one click and reinstall with another. I feel that the future will see the consumer being less concerned with where their data is and more concerned with how they use it - No need for Peg files, mp3 files, or mpg files, one will simply have images, music, and movies - just like on the iPad.

All of this means that Apple could lose Power Users, users who half live (or completely live) on the command line, routing through Library files, and the such. These users may migrate away - But then again they may appreciate some of the simplicity too… Apple will gain market from the masses if they create a simple system that is extra intuitive, but they must remember that developers and power users will want more than some images, music, and movies.