Mac OS X Lion predestined for touchscreen Macs

Anyone else watched Apple’s Back to the Mac Event and thought how great this software would fit on a multi-touch Mac? Apple demoed a few features of Mac OS X Lion, the next major Mac OS X release. Lion includes an iPad/iPhone-like app launcher and every app is encouraged to provide a fullscreen view, again much like on the iOS devices where every app is always fullscreen. Most new iLife ’11 apps shown already come with such a fullscreen mode.

Apple said gestures on the Magic Mouse or a MacBook’s Trackpad could be used to switch between apps and do things within the app. But I cannot help but feel that gesturing around on top of a mouse isn’t the way this is supposed to work. My own experience with three-finger-gestures on a Magic Mouse as well as what we saw during the demo shows that those just don’t always work as expected or are triggered by accident. So what I’m hoping for is that with the release of Lion in the summer, Apple will ship multi-touch enabled Macs as shown in this recent patent filing (see picture). Then the software shown off now will really start to shine.

Of course, it seems there is still a lot of work to do, both for Apple and third-party developers. But the conventional window and mouse metaphor is still prominently integrated into Lion, and the Mission Control feature helps switching between the two experiences seamlessly. With the Mac App Store and the iPad gaining traction, apps should be upgraded for the touchscreen reasonably fast. A further cue that all this might be true is that Lion seems to hide scrollbars when not in use which makes perfect sense for a touchscreen environment. Also, this might explain what Apple is working on with iOS 4 for iPad which is still only available for iPhones.

I’m convinced that if it’s not coming with Lion, it’s coming with the next release after that (but what cat-name is there left for a next release?). As I’ve argued in an earlier post about the iPad as a post-PC platform, Apple still needs to figure out how to easily sync data between apps and between iOS-devices as well as PCs. They seem determined to abandon the long-serving file metaphor – which I think is a good thing – but they need to come up with something better that is accessible to third-party apps and the cloud.

No, this image isn’t a mockup but an official Apple picture of Mac OS X Lion. What’s also interesting is that the file name on Apple’s server is lion_springboard (it’s called Springboard on the iPhone) and not Launchpad which is the official name mentioned on the website and by Steve Jobs.


iPad as a post-PC platform

What does the Apple iPad need to become a viable replacement for your laptop?

  • multi-tasking user interface (fast application switching)
  • usb port (and support for more external devices like printers etc.)
  • and what’s going be by far the biggest challenge for apple: it shouldn’t be an external device to plug in your computer to sync, but it should be a computer on its own, equal to and not subordinated to your main computer. and all your data should be able to sync over the cloud with whatever there is

I sincerely hope (and believe) that Apple is thinking of replacing the mouse/keyboard computers with this platform. Not trying to move the PC forward step by step, but instead starting with the current iPad (which is solely a giant iPhone) and then slowly pushing its capabilities to gradually replace PCs while consumer adoption and the third-party ecosystem of applications is growing with the iPad hardware and software platform. Because Apple want this to happen as quickly as possible they priced the iPad rather low and are willing to take a smaller profit margin.

For this, bigger models (more like a 24” iMac) and probably a virtualized legacy mode with support for a mouse to run old mac/windows applications are eventually needed. Although most private consumers might not care, to get this really going I think it is inevitable for Apple to open up the platform a bit and remove that nasty DRM and let people install their own apps not bought on the appstore.

Here is hoping.