Apple OS X Lion just can't wait to be king with desktop App Store and iLife

Apple mane man Steve Jobs has unveiled OS X Lion. Here's the new, app-tastic features in Lion and iLife.

Richard Trenholm
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Apple's OS X Lion has revealed its claws. Version 10.7 of the operating system roared into life alongside the revamped iLife 11 at a press conference led by Lion king Steve Jobs. New features are largely inspired by the iPhone 4 and iPad, bringing FaceTime and an App Store for your desktop iMac and MacBook laptop.

The announcement gave an overview of the new OS, alongside a new, even thinner MacBook Air. If there are any business-minded features though, Apple kept them under wraps. Here's what mane man Jobs did reveal about the new head of the Apple pride before it arrives next summer.

Mac App Store

The Mac App Store was unveiled as part of Jobs' Lion presentation, but will in fact be available as part of the existing Snow Leopard OS. Computers running Snow Leopard will be able to access the App Store sometime within the next three months.

It'll work just like the mobile App Store, with single-click installation and automatic updates. You'll still be able to download applications from the Web, but the App Store will be more convenient -- and should guarantee that apps are safe and reliable. On the downside, Apple gets to restrict what's available.

Apple is continuing the 70/30 revenue split from the mobile App Store, and the same closely guarded approach. Violent games, demo versions of apps, and apps deemed too similar to Apple's own software are verboten.

For the first time, iLife apps such as GarageBand will be available to buy individually through the App Store.


Your apps will be organised in Launchpad, an app home screen similar to the iPhone and iPad's grid layout. It's essentially a stylised version of the applications folder. iLife apps are shown individually and folders are included too.

App autosave

Apps will now autosave documents and files. iMovie, for example, already saves your video project as you go along. Other apps, such as Pages, will save your documents as you work. When you close an app and come back to it later, it will resume in the same place or state you left it.

Mission Control

Mission Control is an app-zapped version of Exposé, a screen that shows everything you have going on at any one time. Each running app gets a stack of thumbnails showing the windows open in that app. Like Launchpad, it's invoked by a multi-touch gesture, which is just as well: we've run out of hot corners. It's not clear whether future computers will access these new screens from dedicated buttons on the keyboard, as Exposé and the widget dashboard currently are.

iLife 11

iPhoto 11 has gained full-screen viewing, new slideshow effects and a nifty geotagged globe. Emailing photos or uploading to Facebook is easier, with Facebook comments integrated right into the Mac app.

iMovie 11 is packed with new features, including waveform audio editing and new sound effects. The app will create instant replays and other effects with one click, and even automatically generate a trailer. You can storyboard your trailer or just let it do the work for you, which sounds like sorcery to us. Once a movie is done, you can now export to Facebook and Vimeo.

GarageBand's tweaks include Groove Matching, which matches tracks to the same rhythm. Handy for that bass player who seems to be in a different time zone, let alone tempo. New music lessons have been added too, including a How Did I Play? feature that analyses how you did after playing along with a piano or guitar track.

iPhoto 11, iMovie 11 and GarageBand are bundled together as iLife 11, which is available today direct from Apple, costing £45. All iLife apps are available for free on new Macs.

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The Mac App Store in action.
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The Launchpad app screen.
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Folders are supported too for organising your apps.
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Mission Control keeps an eye on what's going on.
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iPhoto 11 gets a number of new features.
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Turn your photos into cards and albums with iPhoto 11.
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iMovie 11 automatically creates trailers for your films.
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GarageBand's new How Did I Play? feature tells you how well you played along, as well as rapping you on the knuckles like a severe music teacher.

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