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Apple brings multi-touch, full-disk crypto to latest OS X

10.7 Lion unleashed to developers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Apple has released a developer version of its next-generation Mac operating system, which the company says brings many of the features found in the iPad to its popular line of desktop and laptop computers.

The preview of Mac OS X 10.7, aka Lion, is available from the Mac App Store now to members of the Mac Developer Program and will ship to customers sometime around the third quarter, Apple announced on Thursday. The beta came on the same day Apple released a new line of MacBook Pros that boasts more powerful CPUs, higher resolution graphics and a new bi-directional, dual channel, interconnect that delivers 10Gbit/s throughput.

Lion offers several new features, including one called Mission Control, which allows users a new way to view everything running on their machine. Mission control unifies current features such as Expose, Dashboard, Spaces and full screen apps “to give you a bird's eye view of every app and windows running on your Mac,” the company said. A simple swipe allows users to zoom out to display open windows grouped by app, thumbnails of full-screen apps, and the Dashboard.

Another feature known as Launchpad displays all installed apps in a full screen layout that can be organized into folders and multiple pages.

Apple is also bringing new Multi-Touch gestures to Macs, allowing users to pinch images or web pages to zoom in on them, swipe left or right to turn pages, or swipe up to enter Mission Control.

Lion also includes AirDrop, which Apple is billing as “a remarkably simple way to copy files wirelessly from one Mac to another with no setup.”

Apple has finally updated its FileVault feature to offer high-performance, full-disk encryption for local and external drives. Current versions of OS X allow users to encrypt only their home directory, a shortcoming that allows snoops easy access to many sensitive files that by default are stored elsewhere. Under Lion, FileVault also has the ability to instantaneously wipe data from their Macs, although we're not sure this improvement will extend to flash-based solid state drives.

Other bells and whistles added to Lion include a new version of the Mail app, Versions - which saves successive versions of documents as they are drafted - and Resume, which relaunches apps exactly the way they were when they were closed. ®

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