The iPad is a major influence in OS X Lion

A couple of days ago I wrote a post that asked the question “How will the iPad influence Apple’s Mac strategy?”. The answer is now clearer than ever, in light of the introduction of the new Macbook Air and the first glimpses provided yesterday of the next version of OS X.

Many elements of the iOS interface are finding their way onto the OS X interface. The new LaunchPad application which was shown sitting next to the Finder on the Dock turns the Mac desktop into the application launch screen of an iPad.  This application reproduces the iOS application icon view right down to the folders view which should become available on the iPad with the coming iOS 4.2 update.

The new full screen application mode that Apple has adopted for the new iPhoto ’11 is also reminiscent of the iPad version of the application.

The new iLife’11 applications which were also shown yesterday will, as usual, be bundled with every new Mac.  While released and sold separately these applications can almost be considered a part of the operating system as you can’t really have a Mac without them.  These applications are available already and thus bring to Snow Leopard the first bits of the heavy iOS interface influence that is shaping Lion.

The new Mac App Store which will start to operate in just three months brings to the Mac the very same application distribution and revenue sharing model that has been such a success and drawn in thousands of developers for the iOS platform.  On the surface the Mac App Store is pretty much a straight copy of the same application for the iPad.  Applications start to download immediately once you click to purchase them and are up and running on your Mac in a matter of a few seconds or a couple of minutes, depending on their size.

With the traditional Apple flair for making things seem almost too simple (and good) to be true, icons jump out of the App Store window right onto your Mac’s dock.  Interestingly the Mac App Store is not, by far, the first App store to be available for the Mac with other stores like Bodega having been around for a while now.

All these new twists to OS X and Apple’s Mac software show a lot of influence from how the iOS looks and works.  Most of these changes will probably be welcomed by end users, with more and more iPhone, iPod and iPad users becoming Mac users. (Apple has been consistently growing Mac sales above the general personal computer market for 18 quarters in a row.)

The next logical evolutionary step is to allow iOS applications to run on OS X, probably through the use of a variant of the Rosetta technology that Apple uses to let PowerPC OS X applications run on Intel based Macs.

*Images: Apple Inc.

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