Apple previews OS X Lion, preps Mac App Store

Today’s Back to the Mac keynote wasn’t all about the MacBook Air. After a grueling 45-minute walkthrough of the new iLife, Jobs finally pulled the curtain over the next version of Mac OS X, Lion, which is due out next summer.

With this release, the name of the game will be taking what makes the iPhone and iPad tick and bringing it to the Mac. That means the App Store, full-screen applications, and the app launch screen will all be making an appearance in Lion. The Mac App Store is undoubtedly the piece de resistance, and Apple actually plans to release it within the next couple of months, well ahead of the Lion launch. Developers will be able to submit apps in November.

The Mac App Store will look and behave not unlike the iTunes App Store. In today’s demo, Apple showed how purchasing an application made the icon fly into the dock while the app downloaded and installed itself in the background. App updates will be rolled out automatically, too. Jobs said developers can expect the same 70-to-30% revenue split as with the iTunes App Store—as in, Apple gets a 30% cut from each commercial app sold.

OS X Lion will let users switch to something called Launchpad to access their software. Launchpad will behave pretty much exactly like the iOS home screen, with multiple pages filled with app icons and folders on a grid. Running apps will still display floating windows just like they do now, but newer ones will let folks switch to a full-screen mode, as well, concealing the menu bar and dock. Along those lines, Apple will consolidate its Expose and Spaces window-management features into something called Mission Control, which will list full-screen apps at the top of the screen and windowed apps in the middle. Windowed apps will be presented as stacks of windows with the app icon hovering over them (see the screenshot at the bottom of this page).

All of this functionality will be driven by multi-touch gestures, but interestingly, Jobs threw cold water on the notion that future Macs could ship with touch-screen displays. He said internal testing has shown that touch-screen input on a vertical display gets uncomfortable after a while, and Apple’s existing touchpads—including the newly released Magic Trackpad—already give users a great way to input multi-touch gestures.

For the most part, I like where Apple is going with this. OS X already does a great job of letting you easily jumping back and forth between apps with multi-touch gestures, but some consolidation wouldn’t hurt. Also, the Mac App store could provide a centralized location for app retrieval and updates—a feature I’ve always liked in Linux distributions like Ubuntu but that has, so far, eluded both Windows and OS X. I don’t know what to make of that touch-screen iMac patent now, though.

Comments closed
    • burntham77
    • 9 years ago

    Full screen apps? Since I use the Adobe Creative Suite on the iMac at work, full screen really does me no good, so… no thanks?

    • WaltC
    • 9 years ago

    I have to say that I thought the teaser for this event, “Back to the Mac,” meant that Apple was going to begin focusing R&D on the Mac once again. Instead, I’ve been led to understand that the phrase actually means carrying a lot of iOS crud “back to the Mac.” Disappointing–I *knew* Apple should have bought BeOS. Looks like Jobs’ next big “transition” will be to transition as many Mac owners as it can to an iOS device of some description, and “away from the Mac.”

    • Forge
    • 9 years ago

    In the beginning, there was OSX. It was good. After that, came iOS. It wasn’t as good, but it was associated with OSX, so it was good.

    Now OSX becomes iOS, and nobody is left to lead.

      • gudanov
      • 9 years ago

      Apple is leaving open the door for Microsoft to take the lead in OS innovation, like when they let Mac OS stagnate. Honestly, switching between full screen apps sounds like step backwards to me. I don’t expect Microsoft to take advantage, but I hope they do, everybody benefits from the competition. They might be able to do some interesting things with the Kinect technology.

    • ThorAxe
    • 9 years ago

    Mac App store…..yawn….

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    q[<"Jobs said developers can expect the same 70-to-30% revenue split as with the iTunes App Store—as in, Apple gets a 30% cut from each commercial app sold."<]q So essentially Apple is eating ~30% of your *[

      • Skrying
      • 9 years ago

      Developing the platform, developing the software, maintaining and paying for the servers and handling all of the payment processing. 30% is hardly crazy, just check out how much Valve gets with Steam.

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        /[< 30% is hardly crazy, just check out how much Valve gets with Steam.<]/ Do tellg{<.<}g Also let me know if Apple will be selling less than 2 year old software for $1.99 as Steam does nowg{<.<}g

      • Stranger
      • 9 years ago

      Retailers take about the same split.

        • sjl
        • 9 years ago

        Not to mention distributors, and all the rest.

        30% is more than reasonable, especially for the small one-man development shops, when you consider the costs of setting up a server, advertising, distributing software, managing product keys, bandwidth, and all the other ancillary costs involved in selling software.

        As long as this never becomes the /[

          • entropy13
          • 9 years ago

          l[

            • sjl
            • 9 years ago

            I don’t see Adobe or Microsoft taking such a move lying down. Not to mention that there’s plenty of OS X users that take advantage of large quantities of free software (Camino; Chrome; Unix utilities; Grand Perspective … there’s a lot of really good stuff out there, and I don’t see them all wanting to move to the app store, especially if – as for the iPod/iPad/iPhone – there’s an up-front cost to do so.)

            As for encouraging Jobs, I have absolutely no doubt that the thought has crossed his mind. I’m not convinced that Apple will be able to lock down the Mac in the same way that they’ve locked down the iPhone/iPad, though – it’s much easier to lock down from the start than to lock down after starting from a relatively open base. We’ll see, and I’ve no doubt that a lot of Unix hackers that have moved to the Mac will pull out the Linux (or *BSD) install disks if it does happen.

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        Retailers have Point Of Presence and staff to pay for, plus you are paying for a physical object. You just proved my point? I’m not arguing against a cut, I find the 30% cut to be absurdly high.

        Hey it’s their platform and they can do whatever they want. Seems like it might bite them in the ass when you have 4 different mature mobile platforms and Apple’s is the most expensive for software AND hardware, by ~20-30%g{<.<}g Good luck developersg{

    • PenGun
    • 9 years ago

    And you thought you had just bought a computer. No you have an entire commercial media distribution device.

    I don’t like TV much, just download my three shows and the Mac phenomena is entertaining. It would be a nightmare for me though.

    I’ll just watch from my Slackware perch and laugh my silly ass off. Oh well back to the dose, got some Khans to hunt.

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 9 years ago

    Does alt+tab count as a multi-touch gesture? You can switch between programs with that, too.

    🙂

      • WaltC
      • 9 years ago

      I was about to say that my favorite multitouch device is my mouse…;) I touch it’s multiples of buttons multiples of times in a session and oddly enough it does just what I want instantaneously.

    • gudanov
    • 9 years ago

    Meh. I’d think Apple would want to distribute the App Store software for free; it’s a revenue stream for them. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything real exciting in this update.

      • cygnus1
      • 9 years ago

      They are, the app store will be available on 10.6 in under 90 days, presumably for free.

        • gudanov
        • 9 years ago

        So there’s the ability to run applications full-screen, an alternative application launcher, and a new window viewer, and that’s it? It just seems like ways to make running apps more iOS-like. Why do I want my full-featured computer work like a smartphone? Ah well, it’s moot for my G5 Mac anyhow.

    • Laykun
    • 9 years ago

    All they need to do now is take away real multitasking and the realisation of OSX Lion (iOS Lion) will be complete.

    • Da_Boss
    • 9 years ago

    I’m really not all that excited yet for anything in 10.7. I mean, app home screens? Really? That’s the plan? What ever happened to slapping the apps folder right on the dock?

    The Mac App Store shows some promise, but also slightly worries me. How far will they take this? Only time will tell, I guess. I don’t see a one stop shop for apps going over well with Mac power users.

    In in all, I really got the feeling that Apple knows that Desktops and Notebooks have peaked in terms of functionality and performance, all you can do now is add things to improve experience.

      • blastdoor
      • 9 years ago

      I tend to agree. The only thing that I find interesting is the app state saving. Other than that, I feel a big “meh”. I just hope that there will be more to it than currently known/revealed.

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    So, since developers can still produce and sell ‘applications’ (which are, like, ‘real’ apps) that get installed on your Mac the old fashioned way, how long will it be before somebody creates an alternative to the Mac App Store? One where, for instance, developers get 90% of the revenue from their application? Or maybe one that just charges a flat $5 fee to cover their overhead and the finance transactions? One that lets you sell whatever kind of application you want, not just what doesn’t compete with Apple or is approved of by his Steveness…

    Or, alternatively, how long will it be before you can’t put anything on your Mac except via the Mac App Store?

      • Skrying
      • 9 years ago

      If it were that easy then why doesn’t an app store for OSX already exist? Why doesn’t one for Windows exist?

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        there simply wasn’t the market for it. I can’t imagine many developers wanting to put all their eggs in one basket, historically. Also, the bandwidth was never there to allow for millions of downloads at once. it’s only now we’re getting the tech we need for it.

          • TREE
          • 9 years ago

          If you think 30% is high you might want to research into how much of a cut steam takes from each and every sale. Believe me Apple is cheap by comparison and yet doesn’t get the praise that steam does.

            • hapyman
            • 9 years ago

            Steam is a bit different because the bandwidth needed is on a much larger scale. Games nowadays run anywhere from 2-6+ Gigs. Not to mention that a lot of the games servers are hosted by Steam. I would compare the Mac App store more to a glorified paid version of Sourceforge.

        • gudanov
        • 9 years ago

        Because there isn’t a pressing need? It’s not difficult to go to a website, make your purchase, and tell the installer to run. You can do the whole thing from your browser. How often do people buy software anyhow? Once the browser and basic productivity software is there, do most people buy much more unless it’s games?

          • Skrying
          • 9 years ago

          Then why does Linux revolve it’s entire application environment around the existence of repositories? Such software solutions can be extremely, extremely helpful. Having updates automated for you from a single reliable source is awesome. Being able to pick from software you know is at least a certain level of quality is awesome. Being able to see user reviews and popularity when you need a application to accomplish some goal is awesome.

          There’s tons of uses and advantages in having a nicely integrated source for software. The only issue I can see from those anti-OSX app store are those who fear that Apple would think block of restrict the traditional ways you install software on OSX.

          There’s nothing wrong with the repository/app store setup. The issue comes when the user’s ability to go his own way is blocked. Assuming Apple/Steve Jobs doesn’t block the traditional installation methods available on OSX I am 100% for a app store. Just like I would be 100% for one in Windows land and just how I am 100% behind the Software Centre in Ubuntu.

            • gudanov
            • 9 years ago

            Repositories are all well and good, but I’d still say the reason you don’t see one for Windows is just that there isn’t a pressing need for it. It wouldn’t hurt to have a Windows software marketplace, but it’s not like it’s difficult to get software currently.

            • Skrying
            • 9 years ago

            You can extend the “no need” line to many things in computing these days. There’s still tons of useful to the end user in such set ups. When I’m in Windows or OSX I wish I had the Software Centre handling program updates and management. It lets me focus on more important things than maintaining my computer.

        • lithven
        • 9 years ago

        The truth of the matter is one already does exist for Windows. It’s called Steam. Yes, it’s more specialized and aimed at a very specific niche but it demonstrates that it can be done successfully by companies other than Apple. As for why there isn’t a more generic software store on Windows is likely a combination of a justified fear at Microsoft they will be pounded with the monopoly hammer (either in a court of law or the court of public opinion) and the fact that no one else has the clout to pull it off. Valve might be able to expand Steam out to other software offerings but that would be going way outside their current market and I can’t think of any other company, aside from Microsoft, who could. The company I work for (Fortune 50) has either bought or written internally a sort of software store that allows non-admin users to install almost any software needed in the company whether it is an homegrown program or licensed from someone else; obviously without any hassle of billing / payment.

          • adam1378
          • 9 years ago

          Chrome-to-phone is a beginning of google version of android and chrome integration. App store wont be far behind.

          • sweatshopking
          • 9 years ago

          microsoft does have the microsoft marketplace. it’s not exactly the same, but it is similar.

    • DaveJB
    • 9 years ago

    Doesn’t really seem like a /[

    • eitje
    • 9 years ago

    WOW!

    ICONS ON THE DESKTOP!!

    How will Apple innovate next!!!?

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      with 2 usb ports!!

        • burntham77
        • 9 years ago

        Now that is funny.

    • SNM
    • 9 years ago

    FEAR the Mac App Store!

    Seriously, I don’t mind a clearinghouse but any steps towards monolithic distribution managed by Apple really scare the bejesus out of me, lest Steve someday get a glint in his eye about making all apps be signed and keeping the ability to remote-delete them…

    • 5150
    • 9 years ago

    Can I buy games other than Angry Birds from their store?

      • dpaus
      • 9 years ago

      Angry Birds is a good game. Steve has reviewed it and said so. You don’t need any other games.

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