Ina Fried

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Apple: Mac OS X Lion Coming in July Via Mac App Store

Apple said Monday that Lion, the next version of Mac OS X, will be a major release with over 250 new features and go on sale in July for $29.99.

Instead of shipping on a disk, though, the 4GB upgrade will come via the Mac App Store and work on all the Macs that one owns.

“That allows us to make it the easiest upgrade you have ever seen,” Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller said.

Steve Jobs kicked off Monday’s Worldwide Developer Conference, but gave way to Schiller and Mac OS X VP Craig Federighi to show off Lion.

“The Mac is doing incredibly well,” Schiller said, noting that the Mac has outpaced overall PC growth every quarter for the last five years. Since he didn’t have time to show off all the new features, Schiller said he would focus on 10 new features, starting with improved multitouch gestures and full-screen applications.

“There is so much more,” Schiller said, showing a list of other features, including new tools to migrate from a Windows machine, FaceTime video chat, FileVault 2 encryption and 3,000 new programming interfaces.

Safari and Mail, as well as Apple’ iLife and iWork apps have all been tailored to run in full-screen mode, Schiller said. Among the new features in Safari is a reading list for pages one wants to get to later.

A trio of features are aimed at making the Mac as resilient as a tablet or phone. Lion will now allow users to resume a Mac OS X session after restarting with all of the same windows and programs open. The software will also auto-save documents and allow users to choose from earlier saved versions. It works similar to the “time machine” backup feature for file backup and recovery.

“You have the power of all of this right from the title bar of your window,” Schiller said. “It’s very efficient. We only store the difference.”

Also, unlike with Word, Lion doesn’t share all the changes with users when a document is shared.

AirDrop is designed to allow for easy file sharing using peer-to-peer networking with another Mac user running AirDrop. With a simple confirmation on both ends, the file is sent wirelessly.

“That’s it,” Schiller said. Until now, Schiller said the easiest way has been to use a flash drive.

Mission Control is a Lion feature that unites Apple’s multiple means of bringing together widgets and open windows.

“For many people this will be the best feature of Lion,” Schiller said.

Lion will also include a Mac App Store built in, though Snow Leopard users have been enjoying this as an add-on to their OS for a while. Schiller noted that the Mac App Store is now the largest channel for buying software.

“It’s built right in,” Schiller said, noting that the Mac App Store will also allow in-app purchases, incremental updates as well as the ability to have applications run in their own “sandbox,” where they are secured from other apps.

Finally, Schiller showed a rewritten Mail app that he billed as enterprise-class. Among its features are a new conversation view as well as search suggestions that aim to make it easier to find things from within a large mail store.

The company first previewed Lion and a few of its features at a “Back to the Mac” event last October.

For all the latest from WWDC, check out our ongoing live blog of Monday’s keynote.

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— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”