CW Developer Network

Jun 7 2011   12:07PM GMT

What will developers do with 3000 new Mac OS X Lion APIs?

Adrian Bridgwater Adrian Bridgwater Profile: Adrian Bridgwater

Web applications

As you will know, Computer Weekly reported news of Apple’s next operating system Mac OS X Lion last night, in line with events at the company’s annual developer conference.

Readers will have noted that Apple is delivering 250 new features and 3,000 new developer APIs with the new product.

So what will that mean? — and what is an API anyway?

For the record – an API (or an application-programming interface) is basically a set of software-to-software programming instructions that work on the web. APIs allow one piece of web-based software to talk to another in a process prescribed by the API itself. If a company releases its API to the developer community (as Apple has done this week) then this represents a channel for programmers to use the services accessed via the API. One API communicates with another API via a series of “calls” and the API itself is essentially just a portion of XML-based software code.

Anyway, reminder lesson over — there’s too much talk of APIs without enough comment on the “guts” of the system isn’t there?

Lion OS.png

As you’ll have already guessed by now if you’ve read the earlier report by Jenny Williams, many of Apple’s new APIs will push developers to build gesture-based apps and full-screen apps too.

Programmers will also no doubt have an eye on incremental services that they might have in mind to work with the new Lion Mail app, which has what is described as an elegant widescreen layout and enhanced message threading.

Elegant Mail from Apple you say? You wouldn’t expect anything else. Would you?

Business focused developers will be looking at the new options to perform “whole-disk” encryption for both the startup and external disks — as well as the new wipe capability for all data. Surely these are attractive new “power options” to take advantage of in terms of new third party management software development.

Finally, Mission Control is likely to be of key interest. This tool is designed to allow users to instantly access everything running on a Mac at once — kind of like Exposé, Dashboard and Spaces all wrapped up one unified experience.

It’s important to remember why Apple releases new versions of its operating system; obviously the company wants to be seen to be dynamic, constantly innovating and following a roadmap, but some of it is about throwing new features out there and seeing which ones stick with both users and developers.

As a Mac addict myself (although I am firmly cross platform embracing Linux and Win 7 too), I for one never got on with Spaces.

So did Apple get it right this time? We’ll soon see right?

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