Feb 16 2012
Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion …what you need to know
This morning Apple issued a press release announcing the developer preview of it’s upcoming upgrade to Mac OS X, code named… drum roll… Mountain Lion!1 What’s the big deal with Mountain Lion? Apple says it has over 100 new features but, as we all know, not all features are created equal and some will go entirely unnoticed. So what is going to make Mountain Lion so special when it finally makes the scene in the late summer of 2012? Let me break it down for you…
Mac App Store Release Party
Mountain Lion will be released within the next 7 months or so and will be made available on the Mac App Store just as Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is today. While the fact that Lion is already available that way means that it’s not really new to Mountain Lion, the fact that only about 30% of Mac users are actually running Lion indicates it’s going to continue to be a new concept for the majority of us.
iPad and iPhone features come to the desktop
With the advent of iOS 5.0, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users have been enjoying Reminders, Notification Center, Twitter integration and AirPlay Mirroring. Well, now Mac users get to play with those things too. They’ll also get Share Sheets, Messages, Notes, and Game Center as new features in Mountain Lion.
- Reminders and Notes will give Mac users handy apps for all their to-dos that will sync with the same apps on their iDevices.
- Notification Center will try to put all your Macs alerts (from Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, system updates and third party apps) in one easy to access location.
- Twitter integration will likely allow you to manage your Twitter account within the Mac’s System Preferences so that you can tweet out to your legions of followers directly from Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview and other apps.
- AirPlay Mirroring will allow you to easily and wirelessly send a 720p video stream of what’s on your Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.
- Share Sheets are a system-wide feature that will make it dead-easy to share links, photos and videos directly from Apple’s apps and any third party ones that get on the Share Sheet bandwagon.
- Game Center has been on iOS for over year now and lets you claim your gaming bragging rights with your friends across the world. It can even hook you up to play head to head. And soon, with Mountain Lion, you’ll be able to play those games—multiplayer games—with friends on Macs, iPhones, iPads or iPod touches.
What about Messages?
Messages should have been in the previous list but it actually warrants more attention that just a bullet point. Messages is going to be the “iChat killer”. Why? Because iChat is dead and Messages is taking its place. No choice offered. It’s the Circle of Life, Simba.
This new upstart app will let you send unlimited messages, high-quality photos and videos right from your Mac to another Mac or iDevice. iChat lovers, quit crying, Messages will still supports AIM. It also plays nice with Jabber, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk. Go download the beta app from the link above and take a look at the future.
Gatekeeper keeps the nasties out
I’m less excited about Gatekeeper than I’d like to be. I’d love for Apple to create a system-wide security feature that would prevent users from falling for phishing attacks or from clicking malicious links on web pages, and while Gatekeeper will basically do that, it does it in a typically Apple way.
Apple is the Gatekeeper.
Basically Gatekeeper is a feature in Mountain Lion that let’s you choose where you can install apps from. You can set it to allow you to install apps from anywhere, but the default setting is to allow the installation of apps from the Mac App Store2 along with apps from developers that have a unique Developer ID from Apple3. There’s even a “maximum security” setting that will only allow apps from the Mac App Store to be downloaded and installed. Which means, if Apple can scare you enough about malware out in the wild, you’ll only buy from their App Store. You will be fearful of the extremely talented and trustworthy developers that have an Apple Developer ID but have, for whatever reason, chosen not to share their revenue with Apple by joining the App Store.
Built for iCloud
iCloud in Mountain Lion promises to make document sharing across all your devices a smooth operation. Mountain Lion uses the same Apple ID you set up for iTunes to automatically set up Contacts, Mail, Calendar, Messages, FaceTime and Find My Mac and the new iCloud Documents automatically syncs any changes you make to any document to all your devices so everything is always up to date. Apple has also given developers the tools to use this magic syncing awesomeness in their own apps, so the syncing of Apple app info is just the start.
Just the start…
Those are the main features that Apple announced today but their are obviously more. I’ll let you know if anything awesome crops up.
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- Yes, Apple really has run out of great cat names. A mountain lion, as you may be aware, is a cougar which is a puma (Mac OS X 10.1) which is a kind of panther (Mac OS X 10.3) which is like a leopard (Mac OS X 10.5 and Mac OS X 10.6) with black on black spots. [↩]
- which is in Apple’s control [↩]
- Apple’s Developer Community [↩]