Lion: 8 things to know about Apple’s latest OS

Due for release in mid-2011, the new Mac Operating System is called Lion. There have been 7 previous releases of OS X: Cheetah; Puma; Jaguar; Panther; Tiger; Leopard and Snow Leopard. There have been rumours that suggested the King of the Cats could be the last version of OS X, although I wouldn’t bet against Snow Lion coming out.

At the Apple Keynote “Back to the Mac” event on the 21st October, Steve Jobs revealed several interface and navigation features of Lion. Here are eight insights about Lion and competitive operating systems which will soon be playing a central role in your life:

1. Lion will help you find applications (Launchpad), see what you have running (Mission Control) and view stuff much as you would on an iPad/iPhone (Fullscreen, Multi-touch Gestures).

2. The new Mac App store will also be part of Lion. This closed eco-system relies on Apple to approve the app before it can be sold, for which Apple takes 30%. What about people who work on Macs and don’t just want to edit home-videos? Will we get to choose how we install applications in in future versions of the OS? Let’s hope so.

3. Although Apple reported record revenues in its 4th quarter 2010, 67% of sales came from iPad and iPhones, which provide much lower profit margins. As Macs are more profitable for Apple, it makes sense to push consumers “Back to the Mac“.

4. Competition around PC operating systems is likely to increase dramatically with the imminent launch of Google Chrome OS. Google Android phones have recently outsold iPhones, and there is likely to be similar pressure in the personal computing market when Chrome OS arrives.

5. Although there was a lot of emphasis on the improved beauty (the adjective of choice at the Keynote) and usability of the Operating System, nothing was hinted at regarding the architecture. It may be good for recruiting new Mac users, but it’s not that inspiring for people who already have the white Apple sticker on their bumper.

6. Jobs didn’t mention cloud computing either, or tell us how Lion will help the Apple nerds sync up all their iDevices with their Mac (shouldn’t the Mac be Mission Control in the Apple Nerd’s universe?).

7. The reassurance that Apple is still investing in the Mac community is good to know, even if the new Lion looks like a Snow-Leopard after a trip to the hairdresser (lots of blow-drying).

8. Whichever way you look at it, Mac OS Lion is still so much better than Windows 7. Yes, I’m a mac snob.

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