The Mac OS X Lion developer beta released last week has turned up what appears to be a new "honeypot" element of Find My Mac, promising basic access to a browser while, in the background, a lost or stolen MacBook can check in its location online. Spotted by MacRumors, the new "Restart to Safari" feature on the lock screen allows users without the password to access the browser only, rather than any files or local apps.
Although Apple's primary intention appears to be encouraging those taking a MacBook to get online and thus give the Find My Mac feature an opportunity to "phone home," it should also find favor among users who want to give temporary internet access to others while not necessarily opening up all of their files to access. Since OS X Lion has Auto Save and Resume functionality, even after a restart all of the user's files and apps would be reopened just as they'd left them.
With the growing number of web-based apps in common use, the browser-only feature could also replace the use of local accounts for families: rather than giving every Mac user their own account, each person would simply log in this new way, use Gmail and other web apps, and then sign out without leaving any trace on the computer itself. That should minimize maintenance tasks as well as prevent "where did I save that file?" confusion.