Designed for the Mac

One aspect of Apple's full screen mode we particularly like is the ability to toggle between full screen apps without going back into a windowed mode. This can be done either with a multi-touch swipe left and right through the various open screens, or via Launch Control, the next evolution of Expose.

As did Expose, Launch Control enables you to quickly toggle between your currently open applications and Spaces, but with a revamped interface that presents applications in what should be a more easily navigable manner. Less major aids to moving about OS X, but still nice, are a number of UI tweaks, including updated animations such as the 'bounce' effect when hitting scrolling limits and popovers are making the jump from iOS to Mac OS.

One feature inspired by iOS in particular is the ability for apps to resume their status in OS X Lion. Close an application down with a number of windows open, and the next time you start it up it will be as if you never left it - even through multiple reboots, and even to the extent that if you left text highlighted on closing an app, it will be highlighted when you resume it. Also aiding with productivity is a built in versioning ability. This lets applications hook into a Time Machine-like interface, showing your current document alongside a timeline of previous changes. Particularly useful is that you don't have to fully replace your current revision with a previous one, but rather can grab elements out of an old document to replace into your current one. Importantly, the versioning system only stores the differences between revisions, so file sizes are still manageable.

An interesting new addition is a feature called AirDrop. When accessed this hooks you into an ad-hoc wireless network, connecting your Mac to any other system in the vicinity. Once another system is found you can transfer files to that person (assuming they accept the transfer) without any configuration required on your end. It's probably not a feature that many will use very often, but it works very slickly.

Also on the upgrade list is a new Mail application, with a layout inspired by the iPad's 'widescreen' view. Message subjects and snippets will appear on the left, with the rest of the view area given over to the message itself. Conversations are merged together as you’d expect of any modern email client (with the quoted previous messages collapsed in the current view, out of the way, which is a nice touch). The killer improvement, however, is probably Mail's renewed search, which offers a great fine-grained way to find emails, filtering by date, contact, body text, among other options.

All told the updates to Snow Leopard that OS X 10.7 will be bringing are shaping up very nicely. And we've no doubt that between now and Lion's launch Apple will be adding even more spit and polish to an operating system that is, let's face it, already exhibiting a mirror-shine. Roll on the summertime!

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