This week Apple released a preview of Mac OS X Lion on its website. The new changes are leaning towards Apple's iOS with a cleaner, simpler look for its application launch and overall GUI. The OS is set to be released some point in the Summer of 2011, the date is yet to be confirmed, though there speculation about the release date. The preview lists and explains some of the new features available on the operating system. The first of which is the Mac App Store. Although this has been released for Snow Leopard, Apple wants consumers to know that there is such a application store out for the Mac, and to advertise its presence.

An Easy Way to Find and Download Apps

Just like shopping the App Store on iPad, the Mac App Store offers endless possibilities for browsing and purchasing apps. Newly purchased apps install in one step and appear right in the new Launchpad. The Mac App Store is available now on any Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard and will be a part of Mac OS X Lion.Learn more about the Mac App Store

Appstore overview Launch Pad is a brand new feature to the update and will let you launch your applications much like the iPhone or iPad does at the moment, with a grid of clickable icons on the screen. Folders can also be used in this mode.

A Home for Your Apps.

Launchpad gives you instant access to your apps — iPad style. Just click the Launchpad icon in your Dock. Your open windows fade away, replaced by an elegant, full-screen display of all the apps on your Mac. It takes just a swipe to see multiple pages of apps, and you can arrange them any way you like by dragging icons to different locations or by grouping apps in folders. And when you download an app from the Mac App Store, it automatically appears in Launchpad. Ready to blast off.

Launchpad A frequent request from a vast majority of Mac users over the past few build of Apple's operating system has been the ability to run an application in full screen mode. This is now very much a reality, with added support for running your favourite apps full-screen at your own will.

The App and Nothing But the App.

On iPad, every app is displayed full screen, with no distractions, and there’s one easy way to get back to all your other apps. Mac OS X Lion does the same for your desktop. You can make a window in an app full screen with one click, switch to another app’s full-screen window with a swipe of the trackpad, and swipe back to the desktop to access your other apps — all without ever leaving the full-screen experience. Systemwide support allows third-party developers to take advantage of full-screen technology to make their apps more immersive, too. So you can concentrate on every detail of your work, or play on a grander scale than ever before.

;Fullscreen Mission Control is also a new feature to Mac OS X Lion, acting as a central place on your Mac to run your apps, see your dashboard, and view folders and files. Another great addition to the update, but still not necessary, as this will not increase productivity over Snow Leopard that much at all. Still, a nice feature to have.

Mac Command Central.

Mission Control is a powerful and handy new feature that provides you with a comprehensive look at what’s running on your Mac. It gives you a bird’s-eye view of everything — including Dashboard and full-screen apps — all in one place. With a simple swipe, your desktop zooms out to Mission Control. There you can see your open windows grouped by app, thumbnails of your full-screen apps, and Dashboard, arranged in a unified view. And you can get to anything you see in Mission Control with just one click. Making you the master of all you survey.

Mission Control Apple advertises Lion to have a "richer Multi-Touch experience", with their rubber-band scrolling, which sounds very much like a branded version of their current inertial scrolling feature already out for Mac's. Apple still leads the way in these multi-touch gestures though.

More Handy Ways to Interact With Your Mac.

Multi-Touch gestures make everything you do on iPad easy and intuitive. Now a richer Multi-Touch experience comes to the Mac. Enjoy more fluid and realistic gesture responses, including rubber-band scrolling, page and image zoom, and full-screen swiping. In Mac OS X Lion, every swipe, pinch, and scroll looks and feels more responsive and lifelike.

The new auto-save feature should save you time and make working on your Mac safer. It automatically saves your data on supported applications, performing hard-drive friendly versions which don't clog your storage with multiple copies of each file.

Past Perfect.

Say good-bye to manual saving. Auto Save in Mac OS X Lion automatically saves your work — while you work — so you don’t have to. Lion saves changes in the working document instead of creating additional copies, making the best use of available disk space. The lock feature prevents inadvertent changes from being saved and automatically locks documents after two weeks. And the revert feature returns you to the state the document was in when you last opened it, so you can feel free to experiment with confidence.

Much like Time-Machine but within an application, you can view previous versions of the document you are working on, works like a live undo and redo button for your files.

See Every Step You Take.

Versions records the evolution of a document as you create it. Mac OS X Lion automatically creates a version of the document each time you open it and every hour while you’re working on it. If you need to revert to an older version or retrieve part of a document, Versions shows you the current document next to a cascade of previous versions — in an interface similar to that of Time Machine — so you can see how your work looked at any given time. You can revert with a click, or quickly copy and paste work from a previous version into the current version.

Versions On the current operating system, when you shut down and restart, your finder windows will open where you left them. Resume will do this for any application that is open when you shut-down. This may well become annoying after a while though, so I hope there is an option to disable this feature.

Pick Up Exactly Where You Left Off.

If you’ve ever restarted your Mac, you know what’s involved. First you save your work, then close all your apps, then spend valuable time setting everything up again. With Resume, that time-consuming process is a thing of the past. Resume lets you restart your Mac — after a software update, for example — and return to what you were doing. With all your apps back in the exact places you left them. In fact, whenever you quit and relaunch an app, Resume opens it precisely the way you left it. So you never have to start from scratch again.

Resume Mail will get an upgrade as-well, with a brand new preview window (similar to paid version already on the Mac App Store) and again, a step closer to the mail we see in iOS. Is this a good thing or a bad thing, we have yet to find out.

A Whole New Way to Look at email.

Just like Mail on iPad, Mail 5 in Mac OS X Lion features a new layout that takes advantage of the widescreen display on your Mac. You see the messages in your inbox as well as a full-height preview of the selected message. The new Mailbox bar gives you one-click access to your favourite folders. Mail 5 also includes a powerful new way to search that makes finding what you’re looking for quick and easy, even in the largest of inboxes.

Mail This is almost simply an add-on to the new Mail App. A simple feature that lets you read and manage your mail in groups, allowing you to see conversations between certain mail addresses, much like the feature implemented in the new Facebook email released earlier this year.

Keep the Conversation Flowing.

Mail 5 also introduces Conversations, a natural new way to read and manage email that automatically groups messages from the same conversation — even if the subject changes along the way. Just click a conversation in your inbox to reveal a streamlined feed of individual messages in chronological order, and easily file or delete an entire conversation.

Mail A very similar feature to DropBox, transferring you files via Bluetooth to people around you with other Apple products. But again, Apple has definitely tightened its security with Lion, realising the increase in market share will only means more malicious software targeted towards Apple's products, such as feature to hide your visibility to others when sharing as soon as you close the Finder.

Send it by Air.

With AirDrop in Mac OS X Lion, you can send files to anyone around you —  wirelessly. AirDrop doesn’t require setup or special settings. Just click the AirDrop icon in the Finder sidebar, and your Mac automatically discovers other people nearby who are using AirDrop. You’ll even see contact photos for those who are already in your Address Book. To share a file, simply drag it to someone’s name. Once accepted, the file transfers directly to the person’s Downloads folder. When you’re done with AirDrop, close the Finder and your Mac is no longer visible to others.

Speaking of increased security, you can now keep your information more secure than before using the new File-Vault system, which does a good job of protecting your files and identity, without the need for third-party anti-virus software.

A New Level of Security.

Keep all the data on your Mac even more secure with XTS-AES 128 data encryption at the disk level. Initial encryption is fast and unobtrusive — it encrypts everything in the background while you work. FileVault also encrypts for your external drives, and provides the ability to wipe all the data from your Mac instantaneously.

All these feature combined with the new integrated Lion Server from Apple, means that this release is set to be one of the largest updates to an Apple operating system yet. In our opinion it is not quite as revolutionary as the update from Tiger to Leopard, but still a great improvement on the current operating system. Look for ward to this release, and with it some great new Apps on the Mac App Store.