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Jobs unveils king of the operating system jungle: Apple's new Mac OS X Lion

At an event in California today, Apple head honcho Steve Jobs showed off a new version of Mac OS X. As many predicted, the operating system will go by the name OS X Lion, but Jobs also announced that it will include a new Mac App Store.

Jobs said that the idea behind Mac OS X Lion is to bring what they learned from taking OS X to the iPhone and iPad with the iOS operating system back to the Mac OS itself. Hence the "Back to the Mac" title of today's event.

"Lion brings many of the best ideas from iPad back to the Mac, plus some fresh new ones," Jobs said. In fact, he described Lion as "Mac OS X meets the iPad."

Mac OS X Lion will be released in the summer of 2011.

Perhaps the most interesting new addition announced alongside the Lion news, is the forthcoming Mac App Store.

"The App Store has completely revolutionized how people get their apps on their iPhone and the iPad and why not th Mac too?" Jobs said.

As with the iPad, users will be able to purchase apps using their iTunes account, then download and install those apps in one step. App updates will be delivered through the Mac App Store. But Mac users won't actually have to wait for Lion to launch to get their hands on the  newest App Store. Jobs said the Mac App Store will be available for Snow Leopard (the current OS) within 90 days.

In addition to the Mac App Store, OS X Lion also will include expanded use of multi-touch gestures and system-wide support for iPad-like full screen views of applications.

As far as multi-touch gestures go, Jobs said, "We've done tons of user testing on this and it turns out, touch surfaces don't want to be vertical. It gives great demo but after a short period of time you begin to fatigue and after an extended period of time your arms want to fall off."

Multi-touch trackpads are the best way to get multi-touch into a notebook, Jobs said, and that is how they're going to use it on their Mac products going forward.

At Wednesday's event, Jobs also announced that OS X Lion will include Launchpad, a new home for all Mac apps (similar to the Home screen on an iPad) which is meant to make it easier for users to find and launch their applications. As with the iPhone and iPad, Launchpad will make it so Mac apps can be organized in any order or grouped into folders. And users will be able to swipe through multiple pages of apps to find what they're looking for.

And in an additional effort to ease navigation, Lion also will offer Mission Control, which presents users with a unified view of every app and window running on their Mac, allowing them to instantly navigate to whever they want to go. It incorporates Exposé, Dashboard, Spaces and thumbnails of full-screen apps.

For more "Back to the Mac" news, be sure to check out Wilson Rothman's live coverage of the event.