Apple has snuck in a browser-only mode to the latest developer beta of OS X Lion, emulating Google’s Chrome OS.
According to a leaked screenshot, there is a “Restart to Safari” option on Lion’s user lock screen which gives a user without login credentials the ability to boot into Safari only while keeping all other system resources locked away. This is very similar to the behavior of Google’s Chromebook except with the added benefit of a full-blown Mac notebook. Apple users will be able to have their cloud and eat it too, unlike with Chrome OS.
This strategy fits nicely with the iCloud strategy, especially if Apple brings iWork.com out of beta for more than just document viewing. Safari kiosk mode coupled with browser-editable iWork.com documents could entice Google Docs users with a well-designed Apple interface that would save changes to iCloud and push those down to all iOS and OS X devices. Steve Jobs said last Monday “we’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device” and this fits that mantra perfectly. “It just works.”
Your documents would be always up to date, include Versions and be accessible from everywhere, including Safari-only mode. As Jobs put it: “The truth is in the cloud.”
OS X Lion will be available in July for $29.99 from the Mac App Store.