Apple just seeded the developer’s preview for Mac OS 10.7 Lion and released more details about what Lion is going to bring. As OS 10.6 Snow Leopard was more of a cosmetic improvement, it has been a while since we got a “new” OS. Here are five reasons why I am really excited about OS 10.7 Lion:
1) Versions: Building on a similar concept as Time Machine, Lion will track the history of changes that you make to your document sparing you from storing multiple copies of the document. In other words, Versions is (probably) primed to replace git, svn, and Mercurial from our lives. While git/Mercurial will still have the advantage of allowing for checking out documents to multiple users, it might just be easier to use Versions for most single-author projects. With a free MobileMe (see below), you will also be to push the newest versions of your document to an online server for safe storage.
2) Resume: Currently, if you quit an application, you close all your windows and have to reopen them the next time you start working. Imagine closing X11 when you have one or two xterms as well as instances of idl, iraf, ds9, emacs, et al. running. Resume will save the information about all of your windows and reopen them the next time you start the application! Yes, this is like your web browser restoring all the tabs/windows your last session but every single application. Imagine being able to start off where you left off last night. You can currently do that only if you work on some kind of remote desktop or VNC interface.
It also seems like the system will close applications that have been idle for a while. Since they can be easily restored, there is no need to keep them running.
3) Free MobileMe: Technically, this is not part of Lion, but I wanted to bring it in anyways: Apple is not selling MobileMe anymore, and the online store is offering a free 60-day trial. Rumors have been abound for weeks that Apple will make MobileMe completely free and help Google’s vision of the cloud as the future of computing. What this means for you is 20 GB of online storage space that you can access from your work machine, your laptop, or your iPhone. Whether that is your music, the current draft of your paper, or your bibtex library, Apple will store it in its North Carolina facility. I can see future cheaper iPhones with smaller hard drives with all of your data stored in the cloud (see previous AstroBetter post on using MobileMe for online syncing). Also, this eliminates the need for third-party (storage/syncing) software like DropBox.
4) AirDrop: This will allow us to transfer files wirelessly between two (nearby) Macs without requiring any setup, as long as both people have AirDrop turned on. I am curious as to how this you will be implemented and how it will compare to file transfer via Bluetooth; but this feature will be very useful when you are working with your collaborators at a cafe!
5) Lion Server: Unlike previous versions of OS X, Lion will come with the Server at no extra charge; it used to cost $499. As Lion Server is also (supposedly) easier to setup and maintain, I am thinking systems administrators will be more willing to shift to Mac-based networks from Linux-based networks, or at least simultaneously maintain one.
In addition, Lion will have many other features: Mission Control (a GUI-based top), a new version of Mail, full-screen Apps, better file coordination when multiple applications access a file, and more trackpad gestures. I am looking forward to the summer of the Lion; with the price likely to be around $50, are you thinking about upgrading as well?