Lion Keyboards Start Shipping

Apple is gearing up to ship keyboards with Lion-specific function keys worldwide.

A first batch of the new hardware has been spotted somewhere in Italy (apparently), with technology site iSpazio posting a set of images that show the minor alterations undergone by at least two of the F-keys.

Specifically, the F-3 key that offers a quick overview of all your windows on Leopard and Snow Leopard bears pretty much the same symbol as before, only it’s missing a frame.

The frame’s removal is indicative of its shifted function to activate Mission Control, a new Lion feature that gives you an overview of all your open windows, thumbnails of your full-screen applications, and Dashboard, all arranged in a unified view.

And while the Dashboard is accessible from Mission Control, many users will want to access Launchpad from a dedicated key on their Apple keyboards.

Sure enough, Apple has thought of that too, as shown in the images posted by the aforementioned Italian source.

The next-in-line F-4 bears a symbol that represents Launchpad, the function that gives you an instant-on view of all the applications installed on your Mac.

Instead of displaying a cumbersome list of tiny application names one under the other, Launchpad gives users an iOS Springboard-like view of their programs so they can easily pick one and start working with it.

Desktop users who own a Magic Trackpad can invoke Launchpad with a simple four finger gesture.

When installed over Snow Leopard, icons for both Mission Control and Launchpad are placed as shortcuts for these two functions in the user’s Dock.

For now, they’re quite necessary, especially for those users who work with a mouse and keyboard (instead of a trackpad).

However, once customers equip themselves with the new Lion keyboards, the Mission Control and Launchpad icons will be puff, puff.

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