Editorial: iOS is the Foundation Behind Mac OS X’s Future

Earlier this week, Apple revealed their plans to announce the latest version of Mac OS X at the fast-approaching WWDC 2011. While I am certainly ecstatic to see what new features the folks at One Infinite Loop will bring to Mac’s operating system, I also have strong nostalgic feelings. This is because Lion will mark the end of a series of such a profound operating system that was introduced over ten years ago. But, more importantly, it’ll mark the end of a legacy. Mac OS X is an era that began in 2001 with the release of Cheetah, an operating system that would eventually be succeeded by six additional releases–Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard. Each version had its own distinct differences and improvements upon its predecessor. Lion, however, will take a huge leap forward.

Next week, Steve Jobs will walk onto the stage at Moscone West to deliver his WWDC 2011 keynote. Here, he will announce the seventh and possibly final iteration of Mac OS X as we know it today—windowed applications, a complex user interface, and everything else that we have become accustomed to. There’s some irony behind Apple’s choice of using “lion” as the name of this upcoming operating system, as the lion is the king of the big cats, a fierce and virtually unrivaled wildcat that enjoys its position atop the natural food chain. It’s a more-than-fitting name choice; in fact, it was probably just another one of Apple’s ingenious marketing ploys.

Jobs will certainly use his fair share of creative adjectives to describe Lion–perhaps it will be “magical”–and will certainly provide detailed explanations about what new features Mac users are in store for. What some people don’t know is that the features that will be rolled out serve a definitive purpose: to ensure that the transition from Mac OS X to a future iOS-centric operating system is as smooth as possible. That’s right, iOS.

Apple will focus on simplifying the computing experience through its software, much like Microsoft is doing with Windows 8. We can already see Apple’s first steps towards a simplified iOS experience on Mac with the preview of Launchpad. We can also expect to see Mission Control, full screen apps, a larger emphasis on the Mac App Store, and many other features. Apple’s reasoning behind these new features is to bring the best features on the iPad to the Mac with OS X Lion. Don’t worry, though, because Lion won’t quite match the iPad just yet. I do expect Apple’s next major release of OS X to be even closer, however, as Apple streamlines their operating system across their devices. This will leave Mac users with a lot of changes to get used to. While some are happy about these new changes, some aren’t. The latter people will need to get used to it, however, as this is the indisputable future of the Mac.

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