Apple chatter: Lion, MacBook Air ship July 14

By Jonny Evans

Apple [AAPL] is expected to introduce OS X Lion next week, with retail staff required to run an overnight shift to set store’s up for the introduction of the new breed operating system.

Mac-OS-X-Lion.jpg

54 million Mac users

Apple also seems set to ship new Macs along with Lion, specifically the Sandy Bridge MacBook Air models the company has apparently been holding back from release in order to make a joint product introduction. Artfully designed to entice the world’s estimated 54 million active Mac users.

Preparing for Lion, store staff are being asked to install additional RAM inside Macs by the beginning of next week.

While the OS won’t be available on disk, in-store Macs will be demonstrating the new system, which requires a hefty 2GB or RAM.

Tell me on a Friday

Apple plans to prepare its retail stores overnight on the 13 July for launch the next day, July 14, a Thursday, according to reports here and here. It is possible the rumor-mongers have it wrong, as Apple has shipped the last four iterations of OS X on a Friday. We’ll wait and see.

Previous OS X launches

  • OS 10.6, Snow Leopard: Friday August 28, 2009
  • OS 10.5, Leopard: Friday, October 26, 2007
  • OS 10.4, Tiger: Friday, April 29, 2005
  • OS 10.3, Panther: Friday, October 24, 2003
  • OS 10.2, Jaguar: Saturday, August 24, 2002
  • OS 10.1, Puma: Tuesday, September 25, 2001
  • OS 10, Cheetah: Saturday, March 24, 2001

The kick inside

Feature-packed, Lion will only be available via Apple’s Mac App Store only for just $30. Many users with multiple Macs may need to take note of instructions here to help ease the installation process.

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Some users on AirPort networks may find some connectivity problems when they attempt to install the software, subsequent to Apple’s recent 10.6.8 update.

Lion will offer built-in support for iCloud services. As the software won’t be available on an optical disk, it also bundles built-in trouble-shooting and recovery tools; will run the Safari browser with no need to log into a user account; and will offer the capability to instantly wipe data off of a Mac remotely in the event your computer is lost or stolen, at least in conjunction with Macs deploying the Intel Sandy Bridge processor.

You can also log into a remote Mac user account even while someone on that remote machine is logged into a different user account.

Additional features (and Apple has a handy list of 250 new features here) will include the Launchpad; full-screen apps; full-size PDF previews; Mission Control; automatic save and document version tracking; auto-resume and more. You’ll also find an iPad-like Mail app, and many improvements in usability and user navigation with touch deployed far more widely across the system.

Popovers, Overlay Scrollbar and Multi-Touch Gestures and Animations. Lion will use those discreet scroll bars you get on iOS, bars which appear only when used as an overlay on top of a windows content. You also get Popovers within the UI (image below). The AV Foundation framework provides essential services for working with time-based audiovisual media.

Get ready

To install Lion, you need a Mac with a minimum of 2GB of RAM and one of the following Intel processors: Intel Core 2 Duo, i3, i5, i7, or Xeon -- earlier Intel-based Macs with Core Solo or Core Duo processors aren't compatible.

Some users may find some Lion features don’t work with their Macs -- some features demand graphics cards more powerful than those carried by some otherwise compatible machines. You’ll find some good advice to help you prepare your Mac for the Lion upgrade here.

The new MacBook Air is likely to pack a significantly faster solid state drive; additional memory and a version of the Sandy Bridge processor as recently deployed inside the MacBook Pro. A new Thunderbolt port, an HD Facetime/iChat camera and improved graphics performance will also feature in the release.

Big in mobile

Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore believes MacBook Air sales could: "Ramp to as high as 1.5 million units per quarter or 50 percent of the MacBook business." In combination with the estimated 5 million iPad sales Apple is currently generating each month, Apple seems set to become the biggest mobile solutions vendor next year.

Will you upgrade to Lion? Let us know in comments below. And tell us what you find out about the OS. Follow me on Twitter and I'll let you know when new reports get published here first on Computerworld.   

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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