updated 01:55 pm EDT, Mon June 6, 2011
Release adds over 250 new features
(Updated with Lion Server details) Apple at WWDC has formally unveiled Mac OS X Lion, which includes a number of new features that were not leaked in early reports. Among the new capabilities is AirDrop, a wireless peer-to-peer sharing system, and a migration utility for users who are switching from Windows machines. As expected, the major update also brings full-screen applications, the Mission Control UI, and expanded support for multi-touch gestures.
AirDrop is advertised as a new way for users to share files without using thumb drives to transfer files between two systems. The utility will show all local users who are running AirDrop, enabling users to send files using drag-and-drop controls.
The new multi-touch gestures broaden the existing capabilities of Apple's trackpads, enabling users to zoom, pinch to show apps in a grid, or swipe to go forward or backward in a browser. The gesture improvements appear to bring the Lion experience closer to that of a tablet or smartphone.
Apple has worked to make it easier for developers to create apps that take advantage of fullscreen layouts. Users can quickly switch between fullscreen and standard presentation, or swipe back and forth to move between several fullscreen programs.
The Lion release will offer the Mac App Store as a built-in feature, which will also be update with support for push notifications, in-app purchases, and security improvements. Developers can also take advantage of delta updates for bug fixes and security patches.
Several existing utilities have also been revamped, including Mail, Photo Booth, Safari and iPhoto, among others. Photo Booth offers face tracking, enabling users to add special effects that maintain their position on a moving face.
Mac OS X Lion will be available in July for $30, matching the Snow Leopard price. Unlike previous releases, however, customers will not have to buy a physical disc; Lion will be exclusively sold through the Mac App Store as a 4GB download without requiring a reboot.
Update: Apple will also release Mac OS X Lion Server through the Mac App Store, with individual licenses to be available for $49. The Server edition offers a number of additional features that parallel the standard release, including iPad file sharing, push notifications, Wiki Server 3, iCal Server 3, Mail Server 3, and Xsan.