Apple redefines the Mac with OS X Lion

OS X Lion, which ships next summer, is expected to offer users a sleeker, more iPad like experience.

Today’s sneak peek at Apple’s Cupertino campus highlighted just a few of Lion’s features, including the Mac App Store, Launchpad, system-wide support for full screen apps, and Mission Control – which unifies Exposé, Dashboard, Spaces and full screen apps into a single view of running processes.

“Lion brings many of the best ideas from iPad back to the Mac, plus some fresh new ones like Mission Control that Mac users will really like,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs told the eager crowd.

“[It] has a ton of new features, and we hope the few we had time to preview today will give users a good idea of where we are headed.”

Indeed, Apple seems to have given the traditional OS X user interface (UI) a mobile-influenced overhaul.

For example, Launchpad makes it easier for users to find and start apps.

Similar to the Home screen on iPad, all Mac apps can be elegantly displayed just by clicking the Launchpad icon in the dock.

Of course, applications can be organized in any order or grouped into folders, while multiple app pages can be conveniently swiped through.

Meanwhile, Mission Control presents users with a unified view of every app and window running on OS X. In addition, 

MC incorporates the next generation of Exposé, presenting all running Windows grouped by application, alongside thumbnails of full screen apps, Dashboard and other Spaces.

Lion also includes system-wide support for full screen apps, which can be entered with just one click.

Switching from one full screen app to another is accomplished with just a swipe of the trackpad, as is swiping back to the desktop to access multi-window applications.

Finally, the Mac App Store is designed to port the “revolutionary” App Store experience over to OS X, making discovering, installing and updating Mac apps easier than ever.

And as one would expect, users can purchase, download and install apps using an existing iTunes account. 

Luckily, Mac enthusiasts won’t have to wait for Lion to access the OS X app store, as it will be available for Snow Leopard systems within 90 days.