Mountain Lion brings Mac OS X closer to iOS
Just a few hours ago Apple dropped a massive bombshell in the form of the presser for the developer preview for Mac OS X Mountain Lion. This news comes as Microsoft prepares to release the consumer preview of Windows 8 on the 29th of this month. Somehow I can’t help thinking on how this was a premeditated move to steal the thunder from Microsoft’s big day, though we will rest those thoughts for another article. On the face of it, the theme behind Mac OS X Mountain Lion is simple – the iOS-ification of Mac OS X, but as with most Apple previews only the top ten headlining features have been mentioned and we will also take a closer look on them, though Apple intends to introduce 100 new features in its desktop OS. In the meanwhile hit the break and read on for each and every detail about OS X Mountain Lion, point by point.
As with iOS 5, a deeply integrated iCloud experience can be expected on Mac OS X 10.8. Reports on the developer previews suggest that the integration begins from the installation of the OS itself where the OS asks the user to either create an iCloud account or log in to one. Now instead of logging into the web based iCloud, the integration stems at the OS level with important documents, mails, contacts being synced seamlessly between iPads and iPhones.
In this day and age of mobile computing we have become accustomed to a centralized notification system, and now Apple is bringing the superb iOS notification centre to Mac OS X. This means Mails/Messages will all line up in an iOS style notification system. I am guessing Apple will allow third party apps to tab in to this system via APIs, which will make it an immensely handy utility. Perhaps it may not be as handy as it is on an iPhone, but nonetheless it will make the day-to-day chores simpler.
Ever since its inception in iOS 5 I have always wondered why Apple did not make a version of the app for the Mac, and now I know why. They were reserving it for Mountain Lion. In Mountain Lion it replaces Apple’s long-standing iChat messenger, but this does not mean we lose the ability to log into various different Email accounts. Message on mixes the old with the new, and has perhaps the potential to become a lethal messaging platform. It is already secure as it users Apple’s own messaging protocol, but at the same time it offers a tweaked interface enhanced for the larger display and offers users the ability to send messages, documents, HD video (up to 100MB), photos and contact details. Apart from this it also utilizes the new notification centre on Mac OX Mountain Lion. Of course, it doesn’t matter whether the recipient is on an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Mac – it works across all of them.
Keeping in the iOS-ification theme of the update, we now get built-in Twitter integration. So now if I like a BGR India story, I don’t need to copy past the link in the Twitter app, I just need to click on the share button next to the address bar on the browser and behold we are Tweeting away. Apple is saying that at some point the Twitter integration will also be integrated inside the Mac App store, which will enable users to tweet about their favorite apps.
Apple is introducing a brand new feature called Gatekeeper in Mac OS X Mountain Lion. With Gatekeeper, Apple does a balancing act between a restricted app store environment and the openness of the web. Apple is issuing developer IDs to registered developers who can digitally sign their apps. With this digital certification Apple will allow access to apps that are not part of the Mac app store alongside apps in the Mac app store. While this feature will be turned on by default, Mountain Lion offers the option to turn off Gatekeeper, which will allow users the access openness of the web. Apple is basically reassuring users that OS X is a more secure platform than Windows and with Gatekeeper theoretically chances of getting infected with malware are gravely reduced.
Game Centre has seen tremendous success on iOS and now Apple is bringing the functionality to the Mac. On iOS, there are over 100 million registered, but mainstream game developers have often had contempt for the Mac. Most marquee titles either never come to the Mac or come very late. Game Centre could perhaps tilt the balance of gaming in favor of the Mac. At the very least it could at-least level the playing field as right now Windows dominates the gaming scene.
Air Play Mirroring
This one has been a long time coming. With AirPlay Mirroring users will be now have the ability to stream content on their large display via an Apple TV all in the high definition glory of 720p. Yes its still 720p not 1080p but still it’s a welcome addition. I am guessing the rumored iTV will also be supported. Apart from this, Apple will also enable the ability to stream content directly from iTunes in a full screen environment.
Focus on China
With the growing demand of Apple products in China, Apple is providing a lot of support for Chinese services baked inside Mac OS X Mountain Lion. All the usual suspects have been accounted for. Baidu, Sina weibo, Youku and Tudou all are here. Of course, apart from these there a numerous other services, but clearly China is a big market for Apple.
As mentioned above, Twitter is deeply baked inside the OS X Mountain Lion, but such services have been integrated with the help of iOS style Sharing buttons or as Apple likes to call them – Sharing Sheets. Through these buttons users can share their content via Air Drop, Mail, Message or other third party services. Sharing content on a PC or Mac has never been very difficult, but Apple is now bringing the sophisticated simplicity of iOS like sharing to the Mac.
The iOS influence can be seen through out the OS, however the influence of Apple’s highly successful mobile OS hits its peak on the personal information management (PIM) apps of Mac OS X. In OS X Lion introduced the iOS style contacts view, now with OS X Mountain Lion users will have access to a Reminders app, which strangely reminds of iOS and also a Notes app, for jotting down notes, also in the vain of its iOS compatriot.
On the whole Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion seems like a very comprehensive update as it adds more of the functionality heralded on the iOS onto the Mac. Apple has played its cards more subtly as with iOS-fication of the Mac, Apple is carefully transporting the functionality of its mobile OS, in a more seamless way over the period of multiple OS cycles rather than a more jarring transition, a problem Microsoft is grappling with Windows 8.