Apple to Unveil OS X 10.7 on 20th October

Apple today announced a new media event, due to be held in six days on the 20th October. Called “Back to the Mac”, it signals the focus of the presentation will be upon OS X, and Apple’s Mac hardware lineup. If you’ve become a little tired of the successive stream of iPhone, iPad and iOS announcements over the past 12 months, now’s a good time to start getting excited!

The invitation states “Come see what’s new for the Mac on October 20, including a sneak peek of the next major version of Mac OS X.” I’ll be taking a look at what the announcement is likely to cover after the break!

Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion”

It’s clear to see from the invitation that Apple is planning to usher in the age of the lion (that’s a lion behind the door, right?), with aspects of the presentation dedicated to talking about the next major release of the OS X operating system.

Specifics of what OS X 10.7 will include – or when it will be released – are few and far between, so there’s plenty of scope to surprise us all next Wednesday.

The latest incarnation of OS X – Snow Leopard – was more of an incremental improvement over Leopard than a major overhaul. It slimmed the operating system down, making things leaner, faster, and generally a little bit smarter all round. But we didn’t see many major additions or changes.

The general consensus seems to be that, this time around, Apple will be going for something considerably bigger. We’re likely to see a few flagship features touted heavily, and plenty of further enhancements under the hood.

Many people are expecting a unified overhaul of the OS X interface – something that I’m excited about, and fearful of, in equal measure. It’ll be fascinating to see whether this materialises and, if so, what Apple has up their sleeve to make the media gasp.

10.7 Is Already Out There…

The very first visitor to AppStorm running OS X 10.7 hit the site in January 2010 – almost ten months ago. In line with what TechCrunch reported earlier today, we’ve started to see visitor numbers from this OS gradually increase in recent months.

…But Be Prepared to Wait

Last time Apple offered a preview of an operating system before it’s release, we had to wait a full year before it actually hit the shelves. Whether we’ll see the same wait this time remains to be seen, but it’s certainly likely to be at least six months before you can actually get your hands on 10.7.

Updated Hardware?

Along with a preview of the next version of OS X, there’s a chance we’ll see some updated hardware announced. This would be good timing for the holiday season, helping to spur sales for Apple in the run-up to Christmas and Thanksgiving.

There’s no doubt that the spotlight has been on iOS for the past few months. The latest Mac hardware updates came on the 27th July in the form of updated iMac, Mac Pro and Cinema Display lineups. That’s quite a while ago!

We haven’t seen any major revisions to the MacBook lineup for a while, so there’s a good chance we’ll see an updated MacBook Air, or tweaks to MacBook/MacBook Pro models.

Speculate Away!

So what do you think we’ll be seeing announced next week? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments on new OS X 10.7 features and potential hardware changes. Let’s see whether we can guess a few of the surprises correctly!

Personally, I won’t be satisfied unless Steve’s “one more thing” turns out to be an actual, real-life lion…