Apple is expected to release the new Macbook Air, along with the latest operating system OS X Lion (10.7), next week.

Speculation over the new Macbook Air and Mac OS X Lion software hit new heights this week as it was rumored that the Mac OS X Lion would emerge from the Cupertino den on July 14. But it did not.

Apple has released past versions of its Mac OS X updates usually on Fridays. OS 10.3 through 10.6 were all released in the last week of the month, and so it would seem likely that the release date will fall towards the end of the month, making a release next week possible.

News sites have been saying that the next generation OS will be launched next week, either on July 19 or July 22, to go with the newest Mac Airs and Mac Minis. This is mostly speculation at this point; the only thing certain is that Apple doesn't have a set time for the Lion release aside from this month.

Apple would not release the new Macbook Air unless the operation system is first released, since it will come pre-installed with OS X Lion. The fact that Lion has constantly been marketed alongside the MacBook Air makes the double release likely.

According to All Things D, the company has plans to unveil the updated MacBook Airs line late next week. The new MacBook Air is said to be sporting the Sandy Bridge processors from Intel, support for Apple's new high-speed Thunderbolt, the return of the backlit keyboard and 128Gb to 256Gb of flash storage.

9to5Mac reported that Apple will be releasing four new MacBook Air models. This includes two 11-inch models and two 13-inch models; both screen sizes will come in entry level and upgraded configurations.

Other systems are rumored to be arriving soon after or even at the same time, such as white MacBooks as well as Mac Pros.

The current generation of MacBook Airs are powered by Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), which was released in June 2009, and the OS X Lion represents a quantum leap forward in terms of OS advancement.

The OS X Lion, which will only be available through the Internet and will come in downloadable version retailing for $29.99, includes a number of features that will make Apple's ultraportable MacBook Air more appealing for mobile users.

The new operating system will have 250 new features, according to Apple. There are new multi-touch gestures that make the Mac a lot like the iPhone or iPad including momentum scrolling, tapping or pinching your fingers to zoom in on a Web page or image. It's likely that the new features will be available on the new Macbook Airs.

Another new feature on Mac OS X Lion will be Launchpad, which will allow users to see all of their Mac apps in a full-screen layout. Using the multi-touch gestures, users will be able to organize them in any order.

Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, stated: The Mac has outpaced the PC industry every quarter for five years running and with OS X Lion we plan to keep extending our lead.

In addition, Apple hopes to integrate high-speed data transfer and high-resolution display through I/O Thunderbolt ports into the upcoming devices. The addition of Thunderbolt can enhance the high-speed technologies enabling compatibility with USB 3.0, firewire, and eSATA.

Thunderbolt has already been integrated into Apple's current MacBook Pro and iMac, showcasing its strengths using Final Cut Pro. It may be an option for Apple to use Final Cut Pro to demonstrate Thunderbolt's enhanced capabilities on the new Mac Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini.