Apple opened their bag of tricks for us today and announced the release of a developer preview version of Mac OS X Mountain Lion, the follow-up to their wildly (pun intended) successful OS X Lion from last year. Filled with all the fit and finish of an iOS release, OS X Mountain Lion promises to take our desktop and laptop machines one step closer to our mobile devices.
OS X Mountain Lion will serve to bridge the gap between Apple’s two operating systems, including features such as:
- extending the use of iCloud to your Mac, using your Apple ID to be sure that when you add, delete, or edit something on your Mac, it happens on your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch;
- second only to iCloud integration is the addition of Notification Center to your Mac –always keeping you aware of what’s up, including notification banners on your desktop;
- add the power of iMessages to iChat allowing you to send unlimited messages to anyone on a Mac or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5 (and just like on your mobile device Messages will let you start a conversation on your Mac and pick it up on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch);
- use Reminders to help you manage that ever-expanding to-do list, complete with deadlines and alerts all synced automatically with your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch using iCloud;
- add notes and pin them to your desktop all synced with iCloud to your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch;
- share links, photos, and videos with your friends in virtually any format that you can imagine including a full marriage with twitter allowing you to tweet almost anything from almost anywhere;
- get in the game with Game Center on your Mac, extending your ability to boost your achievements above those of your friends;
- and mirror your Mac display using AirPlay in full HD.
In addition to these iOS-centric additions, OS X Mountain Lion features Gatekeeper security –giving you control over which applications you download, install and run on your Mac. Choose to trust only those apps coming from the Mac App Store or give your computer a little more freedom and allow apps from anywhere. The choice is yours, satisfying higher end experienced users while comforting those who might be new to OS X or prefer to be cautious.
Initial reactions to the release vary from elation and surprise over how quickly it came out to terror and skepticism over what the security changes will mean for developers.
So far, the only thing Apple has left out is the touch-screen –and honestly, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if that kind of functionality becomes part of the ‘major overhaul’ rumored for the Macbook Pro laptop lineup due at the end of this year.
Apple has promised that OS X Mountain Lion will be available and launched to the public next summer, which should coincide nicely with the developer conference usually held in June.
For me (as a developer), the hardest question is whether I install this previous version on my Macbook Pro or my Macbook Air.