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Mac Rumor Roundup: Lion on the Prowl?

In advance of Apple’s super-secret announcement in Cupertino tomorrow, we serve up the gossip and rate its likelihood.

Mac Rumor Roundup: Lion on the Prowl?
Mac OSX 10.7

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As we reported last week, Apple’s super-secret event takes place at 10 am PT in Cupertino tomorrow. This is the one announced with opaque invitations to “Come see what’s new for the Mac.” Per usual, Apple has been tight-lipped about what they plan to unveil. But the rumors are flying. Here are some predictions:

A Lion in the tank?

The invitation promised “a sneak peek of the next major version of Mac OS X.” Given that the invitation includes the picture of a lion, the assumption is that the next version of OS X will be called Lion. Which would be consistent with previous versions (Puma, Jaguar, Tiger, and so on up to Snow Leopard, which came out in August 2009). The question is whether this would signify the end of the line for OS X. After all, if you name your versions after large cats, where do you go after the king of the jungle?

In any case, if there is a new operating system, it might include…

Incorporation of iOS

There’s been some speculation that Apple is going to start merging some elements from its iOS interfaces back into the Mac. MacStories, a perpetual source of Apple rumors, asserts that OS X will adopt iOS scroll bars and scrolling behavior. “That means you’ll have to say goodbye to the current Aqua scroll bars and get ready for a more minimal look,” MacStories writes. “Also, the “rubber band” elastic scrolling iOS is famous for is making its first appearance on the desktop.” Don’t expect the operating systems to merge much beyond that. After all, iOS is designed for touchscreen devices, which the Mac is not.

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New MacBook Air

The news will likely involve more than just OS X, given the wording in the invitation: “come see what’s next for the Mac on October 20, including a sneak peek of the next major version of Mac OS X.” If so, many hope that a new version of the MacBook Air will be on the docket. It’s not likely that either the MacBook Pro nor the MacBook will see a new version tomorrow, given that the latest models for each were rolled out just this past spring. But it has been over a year since the MacBook Air got a makeover. If a new MacBook Air is on the table, it could include, as we reported yesterday, an end to the hard drive and optical drives.

Updates to iLife and iWork

As with the MacBook Air, it’s been over a year since either iLife or iWork has seen any major feature upgrades (in January 2009). Since Apple tends to update these every other year or so, we’re about due. MacLife predicts we’ll see deeper social networking capabilities integrated into these tools, along with closer ties between the desktop versions of the software and the mobile ones. “For instance,” MacLife writes, “the iWork iOS apps need a better way to share files with the desktop version — perhaps a direct way to open or import files from your iPad, edit them on your Mac and then save them right back out to the iPad again, rather than the less intuitive way we presently use to transfer them via iTunes.”

Verizon iPhone 4

Some Apple fans have breathlessly suggested that Apple will introduce the Verizon iPhone 4 at tomorrow’s event. This seems unlikely at an event framed around the Mac. While Apple likes to play it coy, it’s doesn’t usually play it that coy. Which isn’t to say that they won’t drop a crumb or two of news about the Verizon iPhone. But a full-scale introduction is unlikely. This is Lion’s time to roar.

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About the author

E.B. Boyd (@ebboyd) has holed up in conference rooms with pioneers in Silicon Valley and hunkered down in bunkers with soldiers in Afghanistan

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