WWDC: Apple's Mac OS Lion will cost $29.99, more

By Jonny Evans

Apple [AAPL] today showed us what it has been working on for the last five years, as it made three key announcements which will inform its post-PC strategy for the next stage of its switched-on computer platform plans. And read all about Apple's newly-revealed iOS 5 announcements right here.

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[ABOVE: As the WWDC keynote began, many wondered what lay underneath that black banner. (Source, 'Steve')]

As Mac Publishing editorial director, Jason Snell, said, "What is announced today will impact on all Apple's products for the next few years."

[UPDATE: A tipster pointed out that Apple's Mac OS X Lion page no longer uses the Mac prefix, just OS X. Apple is really, really serious about this cloud thing, then. Perhaps you could see this as meaning, the Mac is becoming a device which runs the OS, while the OS is positioned to be something that runs on more than just a Mac (speculation).]

This is a key moment for Apple aficionados, and a huge opportunity for Apple's huge and growing community of developers. Reading the WWDC Twitter feeds I note that pre-show, attendees were all remarking at just how many people were in the keynote queue -- more than ever before. "They've got us all packed in like sardines," one developer quipped, "I hope they don't close the lid."

Even jailbreakers are interested in Apple -- look at it this way -- if the new age Homebrew Computer Club folks are into Apple's platforms, then that's a perfect circle, from consumer users all the way through to tomorrow's chief engineers.

Interest in Apple, its CEO, and all its many platforms is at the highest point yet, and today's revelations seem set to maintain this momentum, despite anything jealous competitors might say. Apple's focus on forging its own path is the biggest lesson to any competing product or platform. A design for life, you might say.

[This story is from Computerworld's Apple Holic blog. Follow on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.]

Apple rolled out some statistics to prove that when it comes to being a developer hoping to build a successful business, its platforms beat the rest.

-- WWDC sold out in two hours and attracted 5,200 attendees.

-- 54 million active Mac users.

-- The PC market shrank 1 percent this year; Apple climbed 28 percent.

-- Mac sales: 27 percent desktops, 73 percent notebooks.

Think about it.

If you build software you want an active and growing market to sell that software in.

That’s why developers wanted to hear Apple VP marketing, Phil Schiller, say, "It's because the products are so good. The whole PC industry wants to copy our hardware. We've been doing notebooks for awhile. But whether you want a notebook or desktop, these are the best we've ever made. Not just because of hardware, but because of software."

Lion: $29.99, Mac App Store, available July

Mac OS X is ten years old. To mark the moment, Schiller went through ten of a claimed 250 new features the company will introduce in Lion OS, including use of new two- and three-finger swipe gestures. And the best news yet -- Lion will be just $29.99 -- though it will only be available via the Mac App Store and ships in July (though a Developer Preview is available).

The OS will require an Intel Core 2 Duo processor,  2 GB of RAM and will require Macs which, as a rule of thumb, were purchased since December 2007.

  1. Multitouch gestures, including Tap to zoom and scroll bars which appear when you’re not using touch, but disappear when you do (as you don’t need them).
  2. Full Screen Apps -- you can run multiple full screen apps and move between them using touch gestures. All core apps in Lion are full screen.
  3. Mission Control: All your previous Expose and Spaces tools in one place.
  4. Mac App Store: Which, incidentally, now sells twice as much software as BestBuy, Apple claimed.
  5. Launchpad: Basically you navigate your apps using icons and launch them with a tap.
  6. Resume: When you launch an app in Lion, it remembers what you were doing and where you were, including what text you had entered. [I’d just like to say this makes me very happy.]
  7. Autosave: Just like is says - and you can revert to an earlier save using a menu accessed via the document name.
  8. Versions: And you can also duplicate documents, make snapshots, revert to earlier versions and copy and past between saved versions -- all through a Time Machine-like interface.
  9. AirDrop: Like AutoSave and Versions, AirDrop is a big deal -- it’s a peer-to-peer file-sharing utility using Wi-Fi, featuring auto-discovery and setup and fully encrypted permission-based file transfers.
  10. Mail: Two or three column view as Mail on your Mac turns into something like Mail on your iPad. It also features what in the demo appear to be extremely powerful search suggestions, conversation view and other features borrowed from the iPad version of Mail. Also a new logo. You can also file conversations for ease of finding later.

Apple also revealed a plethora of additional OS improvements.

  • Windows migration tools
  • Facetime built-in
  • Xsan inside
  • Time Machine Local snapshots
  • iChat services plug-in
  • Improved ‘About this Mac’ information
  • FileVault 2
  • Arabic, Czech and Turkish language support
  • Preview Signature support
  • All My Files in Finder
  • Merge Folders
  • Vertical Text
  • Lion Server as an add on
  • New process architecture for Safari, which also gains a new Reading List feature
  • We also learned of new animated effects in PhotoBooth, with animated birds appearing above a user’s head, face tracking and in-depth facial manipulation tools.

Drop by here later on when I hope to update this post with more information as it becomes available. You can also examine Apple's news on the future of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch right here.

Part of a multi-page report:

On page 1: "WWDC: Apple's iCloud is 'one cloud to rule them all'"

On page 2: "WWDC: Apple's iOS 5 eats RIM, gets 'Post-PC' updated"

On page 3: "WWDC: Apple's Mac OS Lion will cost $29.99, more"

Please do debate this in comments below, and I'd be most pleased if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I could let you know when new reports get published here first on Computerworld.  

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