OS X Lion to ship today

osx lion

Apple are launching the latest version of its Mac operating system, OS X Lion, today, adding new features aimed at iPad users.

Chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer confirmed the launch yesterday, saying that Apple is “very excited to be launching Mac OS X Lion tomorrow.”

It’s the first time the company’s released a download-only update to its operating system, which will be available only through the Mac App store and not on disk. This will mean more profit for Apple, but retailers won’t be happy.

The new version includes more than 250 new features. New iPad-friendly additions include a more gesture-based control system and the iOS-likeLaunchPad, which gives one-click access to applications.

Other new features include an auto-save feature which runs across all apps, and AirDrop, a simple way to transfer files between Macs using Wifi.

There’s also an improved search function for the mail function, and a timeline-based format for message threads.

And the Safari web browser now includes gesture-based navigation and a Reading List feature allowing web pages to be stored for later reading.

Lion costs $29.99. It requires a Mac with an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 or Xeon processor, with 2GB of memory. Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard needs to be installed – apparently, Apple Store staff are all geared up to help customers out with this.