Mac OS X Lion to only be available in download form, with 250 new features

There are 250 new features in OS X Lion, the next version of Apple's software, which you can only buy as a download rather than on disk -- but it's a £21 upgrade for any number of Macs.

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Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Apple has offically revealed OS X Lion, the next version of Apple's software. There are 250 new features in Lion, which you can only buy as a download rather than on disk -- but you also only have to buy it once and can install it on multiple computers.

Apple boss Steve Jobs took to the stage at Apple's annual software conference WWDC to make a number of announcements. Jobs opened the show with Lion, the latest version of the Mac OS X laptop and computer operating system.

Jobs' number two, Phil Schiller, described the new Mission Control as "the best feature of Lion". Mission Control offers a birds-eye-view of the apps you're running, like a souped-up version of Exposé.

Lion includes a number of features influenced by iOS, the software powering Apple's mobile touchscreen devices, such as the iPhone and iPad. Lion uses more of your screen by hiding scroll bars when you're not scrolling, and offering full-screen apps. You can swipe between apps with a swipe of your fingers using new multi-touch gestures.

The new version of Mail also draws on the iPad version. Searching is improved, and conversation view unites all the messages exchanged with a particular person.

Autosave and Resume are pretty handy, letting you undo mistakes or rescue your work if there's been a problem. You can access different versions of your documents  -- similar to Google Docs, for example -- even down to the text you had highlighted when you were working on it. Resume opens the apps that were open when you shut down, saving you having to do it manually when you come back to your computer.

Many of these features have been shown off before, but it's the first time we've seen them all in action. It's also the first time we've seen Lion since Windows 8 was revealed -- Microsoft's rival operating system also offers a desktop experience heavily influenced by mobile software.

One new feature that will get Mac users excited is the ability to resize a window from any corner. Finally!

Lion will only be available from the Mac App Store. That means you won't be able to buy it in a box from the Apple Store. But Lion is a decent deal: it'll cost £20.99 in the UK, and once you've bought it you can install it on all the Macs you have registered to your account. It's available in July.