Five features we'd like to see in Lion

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Steve Jobs will kick off next week's Worldwide Developer Conference by dishing on iOS 5, iCloud, and the next incarnation of the Mac OS, Lion. Thanks to Apple's marketing and a trio of developer previews, we already know plenty about what Lion will bring. But until Lion ships, we reserve the right to clamor for a few pet features we'd really like to see added before the new OS roars onto our Macs.

Everything and the kitchen sync

One strong, fervent hope among the entire Macworld team is that the cloud-based iCloud offering Apple plans to reveal Monday will unite Lion and iOS 5 together and provide true synchronicity. Picture iDisk, reimagined: a system-wide, Dropbox-esque mechanism to ensure that your data is always current across every one of your devices. Tweak a Pages document on your laptop, update it on your iPad, open it on your iPhone to share it with friends—whatever the pattern, all your machines will magically, seamlessly stay in sync.


We’re also hoping for continued security improvements. Only in the wake of MacDefender’s arrival did Apple start including daily malware checks for Snow Leopard; we’d like to see—or perhaps even better, not see, but merely benefit from—steady progress on the security side, ensuring that malicious software is quarantined quickly.

Book ’em, Danno

Additionally, as long as Lion is taking some cues from iOS, we think it’s high time that the iBooks e-reading application arrive on the desktop. And while we’re at it, it would be just great to browse the iBookstore from our Macs, too. Right now, if you read about a great iBookstore book on your Mac, you’re forced to grab your iOS device, open iBooks, enter the iBookstore, and buy the book. In contrast, Amazon allows you to buy a Kindle book immediately from its Website, which will then sync to the Kindle application on the Mac in addition to any other iOS devices you have floating around. Apple clearly could fare better in this competition, and Lion seems like a perfect opportunity for the company to up its game.

Multitouch and go

We’re plenty excited about the many ways that Lion embraces multitouch gestures, but we’re less than thrilled that some of our favorites (like the four-finger swipe to show the desktop) have been usurped for new purposes (like Mission Control). Thus, we’d love the ability to customize gestures—configuring just what actions are tied to certain swipes.

Gotta go back in time

A few of us are also holding out hope that Time Machine will work even better under Lion. We love the feature in theory under Snow Leopard—automated, hassle-free iterative backups are great! In practice, though, Time Machine can take much longer than seems appropriate to complete back-ups, and it tends to get unhappy backing up to networked drives. And the utility has never worked well if you want to restore files and aren’t quite sure where they are. Lion is introducing an auto-save feature and Versions, which keeps iterative backups of your files; perhaps the backup team at Apple could send a little love Time Machine’s way, too.

How about you, dear readers? What features are you holding hopes will find their way into Lion before Apple releases its latest cat?

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At a Glance
  • At $30 for all of your Macs, the only reason not to upgrade to Lion is because you rely on old PowerPC-based apps that won’t run on it. Otherwise, it’s a great price for a major upgrade.

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