Hot on HuffPost Tech:

See More Stories
Engadget for the iPhone: download the app now
AOL Tech

Mac OS X Lion: the multi-touch offspring of Windows 7 and iOS

Windows 7 OS X Lion
Yesterday, Apple released the developer preview of Mac OS X Lion, the first major update to OS X since August 2009. Two major things have uprooted the computing world since then: the launch of Windows 7 in October 2009, and the iPad in 2010.

It's no surprise, then, that OS X Lion looks like the lovechild of Windows 7 and iOS. White box-thumping purists will claim, somehow, that this is revolutionary, world-changing, pivotal. Realists will acknowledge that, for the first time in at least a decade, Apple might be following Microsoft's lead.

Hyperbole aside, though, we should be excited: more than anything, OS X Lion is a glimpse of the future of tablet computing.

iOS on the desktop

Take a look at the major changes in OS X Lion. The first three -- the headliners! -- are almost exact copies of what can be found on every major smartphone and tablet: the Mac App Store, which is identical to the iTunes App Store; Launchpad, which is the iOS app drawer; and, my personal favorite, full-screen, it's-really-mazimized! apps

Yes, batten down the hatches and lock up your daughters: Mac OS X Lion will support real maximizing. Very soon now you'll be able to run your favorite iOS apps on your OS X PC without being confused by that troublesome menu bar at the top.

Mac OS X meets Windows 7

But while Lion has been pilfering from its mobile OS, it has also picked up features that have been floating around in Windows since XP and Vista. The Launchpad really is just a glorified panel with icons on it -- and you could even draw analogies between it and the 'kitchen sink' of Windows 7's excellent start menu.

Launchpad doesn't seem to include a search feature like Windows, either: you just get a huge screen full of icons that you have to sort through. Fun -- especially if you like to indulge in hundreds of apps from the Mac App Store. Let's hope that some sorting and filtering options are added before launch.

Mission Control, another new feature in Lion, is basically a riff on Windows' Aero Flip -- and let's not talk about maximization, which has been a part of Windows for a long, long time.


It wouldn't be fair to analyse OS X Lion without drawing attention to its new-and-original features, though. Resume will allow you to reboot your computer, but still pick up from where you left off -- just like suspending or hibernating, but cleaner. Not every app will support this feature out of the box, though.

Then there's Versions, which automatically saves documents as you work on them, and gives you Time Machine-like access to previous versions if you need to revert. Again, this will only work with apps that have been programmed to work with OS X Lion. There's FileVault, too, which sounds like a very easy convenient way to back up important documents to the cloud.

Finally, multi-touch gestures will play a huge role in Lion's interface. You'll be able to swipe to zoom out to Mission Control, or swipe to maximize your current app. It sounds like a lot of fun, and anything that removes the necessity of using your keyboard is a good thing.

Windows 8

The ultimate irony, however, will probably originate from software megalith Microsoft, which is currently working on a next-generation tablet-oriented and ARM-supporting version of Windows.

Windows 8, like OS X Lion, will be based on the best bits of Snow Leopard and Windows 7, with features from successful tablets, like the iPad.

Who wants to wager that it will look like Windows 7, feature an app store like OS X, an app drawer (read: a desktop with icons on it), and have the ability to maximize apps to full screen?

Tags: apple, lion, mac os x, mac+os+x+lion, MacOsX, macosxlion, microsoft, os x lion, osupdates, OsXLion, windows 7, Windows7