Apple formally invited developers to start submitting applications for Mac OS X Lion on Monday, indicating the arrival of Lion on the horizon. 

OS X 10.7 Lion, the eighth major release of the world's most advanced operating system, will soon be available to millions of Mac users around the world, the Mac maker wrote in an email to developers, reports AppleInsider. Submit your Lion apps for review now so they can be on the Mac App Store when Lion ships this month. 

Earlier this month, Apple issued to developers the Gold Master build of Mac OS X Lion, which is the reference model before the final version of hardware and software hits the store.

All rumors and indications point toward a release near the end of this week, and if you are to name a day, all roads seem to lead to Lion's debut on July 14th.   

Both 9to5Mac and Apple Insider reported that they've got confirmation from several Apple retail employees that Apple Retail stores are planning 'overnights' on July 13th. Generally, overnights are held before new products are released. During overnights, Apple trains members of each store to reorganize product displays and window signage at night, or perform any necessary tasks to facilitate each particular product launch. 

The predicted release date also coincides with the rumored date of a refreshed MacBook Air's release. While neither release has been confirmed, the fact that Lion has constantly been marketed alongside the MacBook Air makes the double release likely. If not on the same day, the new MacBook Air will closely follow Lion's release. 

Other systems are rumored to be arriving soon afterward or even at the same time, such as white MacBooks as well as Mac minis and Mac Pros, according to electronista.

Ready Your Mac for Mac OS X Lion

Besides supporting Apple's new iCloud services, the Mac OS X Lion sports more than 250 new features and 3,000 new developer APIs.

The download will be $29.99 to upgrade from Mac OS X 10.6 to 10.7, at around 4GB in size. According to Apple, buyers are welcome to download the upgrade in any of its retail stores.

Before the upgrade, make sure you have already installed all of the Apple-specific updates released over the past month. Version 10.6.8 of the operating system contains tweaks that enable the digital download and upgrade process, a must-have in order for the upgrade to function correctly, said PCMag.com.

Lion can also be installed only on Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, i5, i7, or Xeon processors, according to Apple.

Nearly 400,000 units of the new 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch MacBook Air, equipped with powerful graphic chips, Thunderbolt data port and Intel's ultra-low voltage Sandy Bridge processors, were reportedly ready for production since June. However, Apple wanted to wait for the OS X Lion to be built in the new notebooks.

 

Why Should You Get It? 

Below is IBTimes' take on top 10 exciting features of Mac OS X Lion that make it a better choice for the customers.

Automatic Restoration 

Mac OS X Lion Gold Master allows you to resume your application exactly as you left it. After quitting or shutting down the system when you come back again, you will find all the open windows, platters, panes, apps and even the cursor position and highlighted text as they were when you left. Mac OS X Lion merely pauses your system, and everything comes back when you restart the computer.

Reboot into Safari

This is a feature that turns your system into an internet kiosk. The Reboot into Safari can be found on the user lock screen. It allows unauthorized users to use the Mac only to browse the Web. In this mode, only a Safari window will appear and nothing else. When an unauthorized user browses web, the Safari browser will not show any of the bookmarks on the Mac.

Auto save

Mac OS X Lion Gold Master brings a complete auto save feature that keeps your data secure and version tracked. It automatically saves changes to your document. Auto Save in Lion adds the changes directly into the file so there's only one copy of the document on your Mac.

You can also easily lock a document at any time to avoid unintentional changes. Lion automatically locks the document two weeks after the last edit. When you try to make a change, it alerts you and asks if you want to unlock or duplicate the file.

AirDrop

AirDrop, a peer to peer Wi-Fi protocol between participating Mac computers, allows you to securely share your documents with others. To share a file you have to simply drag it onto a person's contact photo. After verifying that you want to send the file, it sends a request to the recipient. When the recipient accepts the request, the file gets transferred to the person's Downloads folder.

AirDrop creates a firewall between you and the person you are sharing a file with, a feature that prevents anyone from accessing your computer over that connection. It doesn't require any special settings.

Multi-touch Gesture

Mac OS X Lion Gold Master has multi touch technology that allows you to swipe through files and web pages quickly using your Multi-Touch trackpad or Magic Mouse. Thanks to fluid animations, the gestures have become more responsive. Mac OS X Lion also comprises new animations like rubber-band scrolling, zooming, and swiping.

Mission Control

Mission Control feature allows you to arrange your open windows, full-screen apps, spaces, and Dashboard. While a row of thumbnails across the top of the screen signifies Dashboard, desktop spaces, and full-screen apps, you can see an exposed view of the open windows on the lower part of the screen.

Now, you can add and remove desktop spaces right from Mission Control. You can also attach an application to a particular space or make it available in all spaces right from the Dock.

LaunchPad

LaunchPad makes it easier for you to access your installed apps. While the new apps downloaded from the app store will be added directly to LaunchPad, the user can also create a folder on LaunchPad to organize the installed apps. Each folder can hold as many as 32 apps. It creates full-screen pages to house your apps and adds new pages as you add more apps. You can easily move between Launchpad pages with a three-finger swipe.

iCal

The new look of iCal provides more room to browse and edit your events. The calendars list reveals itself only when you click Calendars. You can now easily add an event to iCal by simply entering a regular-language phrase and iCal will add the event.

FileVault 2

FileVault 2 makes it easier for you to secure data on your Mac by encrypting the entire drive. It encrypts and decrypts your data on the fly. It's also designed to bow out processor cycles to higher-priority user tasks like copying files or browsing. FileVault 2 uses XTS-AES 128 encryption to secure the data on your Mac.

Internet Restore and Utilities

A built-in restore partition allows the user to repair or reinstall Mac OS X Lion without the need for discs. It can be reinstalled on the system from recovery mode through a Time Machine backup.