With Lion (OSX v10.7) only 7 months in the market Apple have just announced their first Beta release (for developers only) of Mountain Lion (OSX v10.8) and it has a brief list of new features. Underscoring the way Apple does business, with smaller incremental updates to their operating systems, Mountain Lion is no different.
On their first look page Apple list the following:
iCloud: Like like iOS5 now every Mac User running OS X can sign up for iCloud and documents will sync with like iOS.
Messages: An upgraded iChat that now includes iMessage from iOS5. It fully synchronises with the current services and is currently available to be downloaded as a Beta (like Apple did for FaceTime before Lion came out) right now.
Reminders: The same app from iOS5 in iPad format, now on OS X.
Notes: The same app from iOS5 in iPad format, now on OS X. Used to be in Mail - now out on it’s own.
Notification Centre: The same idea as iOS5 and taking over from Growl notifications (used to be free but now a paid application in the Mac App Store) but accessed with the two finger right-to-left swipe instead of a single finger down swipe on iOS5.
Gatekeeper: The only new feature in the top ten list that isn’t derived from iOS5 this asks that developers sign their applications with an Apple provided certificate. It checks when the program is launched each time to see if the certificate is still valid with Apple (i.e. hasn’t been blacklisted) and provides a better level of protection from installed software malware. This alone, is a whole other article.
Share Sheets: You can share almost anything from anywhere in OS X with Twitter etc.
Twitter: Twitter integration - like iOS5.
Game Centre: Games on the Mac Desktop can now also be part of Game Center like on iOS5.
AirPlay Mirroring: Mac Desktops will not be able to push their display so it appears on their TV sets via an Apple TV - just like the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, running iOS5.
Apple forked OS X and created iOS and after five years has come full circle to close the loop between the two OSes in terms of common features - each with it’s own slightly different feel for OS X and iOS. I suspect the main reason for the update is to ensure that OS X reaches feature parity with iOS as soon as they can so that in future any new iCloud related feature will be released for each platform at the same time. With a new version of iOS coming out this year, expect there to be a few additional services in iCloud that will work on OS X that haven’t been announced yet. By previewing it early and releasing it they can get developer feedback on 95% of it as they bring their two OSes closer together.
Mountain Lion looks to be closing the loop and bringing OS X and iOS back together into a single, cohesive, experience that gives users the best available cloud-centric software experience. It can’t come too soon.