Apple Releases Mac OS X Lion Developer Preview [UPDATED]

In what’s amounting to a busy morning for the company, Apple released its first developer preview of Mac OS X 10.7, also known as Lion, on Thursday. Apple also used the morning to release updated MacBook Pro models along with the first non-beta version of FaceTime for the Mac.

Apple says Lion blends Mac OS X with iPad and iPhone features such as Mission Control and Launchpad — both of which make accessing applications and documents easier on the Mac. It also supports more trackpad gestures than previous versions of Mac OS X such as rubber-band scrolling and full-screen swiping.

Lion’s Mission Control feature

Lion also includes an updated Mail application that borrows from the iPad’s email app and offers support for Microsoft Exchange 2010. The new version of Mail is designed to fit wide screen displays, conversation viewing, and improved message searching.

Lion introduces a new feature called AirDrop that lets users transfer files from one Mac to another without requiring any setup. The feature sounds strikingly similar to DropCopy from 10base-t interactive.

The new OS version will also include the ability to save multiple versions of documents as you work so it’s easy to roll back to earlier states of your files, Resume for maintaining the state of applications between launches and reboot, and Auto Save for automatically saving documents as you work. Apple is also updating its FileVault data encryption feature.

Apple is also rolling its Lion Server features into the standard version of Mac OS X 10.7. Most notable among Lion Server’s new features is File Sharing for iPad — a feature that lets users access, copy and share files via WebDAV from supported applications like Numbers, Pages and Keynote.

Lion Server will include step-by-step walk-throughs for setting up server features, and will still offer remote and local administration support.

Mac OS X 10.7 is available to Apple Developer Program members as a download via Apple’s Mac App Store.

[This article has been updated with additional information about Mac OS X 10.7]