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Apple WWDC: Mac OS X Lion will cost $29.99 in July, 250-plus new features

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Apple's Mac OS X Lion will go on sale in July, with more than 250 new features, at a price of $29.99.

And when the new Mac operating system does go on sale, Lion won't be available on disc or in a box at the Apple Store or anywhere else. It'll be available only as a downloadable purchase from the Mac App Store -- Apple's online storefront for its computer software.

The new details on Lion were announced Monday morning in San Francisco at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference by Phil Schiller, the company's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, who was brought on stage by CEO Steve Jobs.

The Mac App Store is available only to users of the Mac OS X Snow Leopard, and the Lion download will be about 4GB in size, about "the size of an HD movie from the iTunes Store," making it "the easiest OS X upgrade," Apple said in a statement.

Among the new features in Lion will be more multi-touch hand gestures for Mac track pads, support for full-screen apps and a completely redesigned Mail app that will track messages in conversations -- as Gmail does.

The new multi-touch gestures include "momentum scrolling," which bases scrolling speed on how fast users flick their fingers on a track pad, "tapping or pinching your fingers to zoom in on a Web page or image, and swiping left or right to turn a page or switch between full-screen apps," Apple said.

Apple is also rolling out a feature called Mission Control, which will show, in a single window, smaller windows of each application that's running.

"With a simple swipe, your desktop zooms out to display your open windows grouped by app, thumbnails of your full-screen apps and your Dashboard, and allows you to instantly navigate anywhere with a tap," Apple said of Mission Control.

The Lion OS X update will also include new auto-save features, which automatically save documents as a user is working on them into an app called Versions that "automatically records the history of your document as you create it, and gives you an easy way to browse, revert and even copy and paste from previous versions," Apple said.

Sharing files between nearby computers running Lion will no longer require email or running a thumb drive back and forth because of a new app tool called AirDrop, "which finds nearby Macs and automatically sets up a peer-to-peer wireless connection to make transferring files quick and easy," Apple said.

For business IT users, Apple said it will release Mac OS X Lion Server in July as a download from the Mac App Store for $49.99.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Apple executive Phil Schiller shows off OS X Lion's Mission Control feature at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Credit: Beck Diefenbach / Reuters

 
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