Apple is releasing the latest version of their desktop operating system Mac OS X. Mountain Lion looks to right some wrongs from OS X Lion and moves the OS even closer to its mobile cousin iOS. While were still some way off a completely unified OS there are quite a few changes – so let us give you a guide on what you can expect.
The new OS includes even more familiar features from iOS; you’ll find revamped reminders, notifications, Twitter intergration, message, notes and Game Centre.
Apple has decided to merge the names of features from your iPhone onto your Mac – so you’ll find iCal is now called Calendar, while Address Book become Contacts and so on – hardly a revelation, but a nice touch nonetheless.
Mountain Lion has been designed from the ground-up to work with iCloud – from easy setup to integration within apps Mountain Lion will now use you Apple ID to automatically setup Contacts, Mail, Calendar, Messages, Facetime, and Find My Mac within iCloud.
iCloud will also now sync Documents acrosss all your devices – any changes are pushed across all your Apple devices so documents are always up to date. Apple has also announced a new API to help developers make document-based apps work with iCloud, too.
iMessage now replaces iChat and allows you to continue conversations started on a Mac to any of your other iOS devices. iMessage looks and works very similar to its iOS offering – you can include attachments, photos and HD video. The iMessage app will also continue to work with other chat software including AIM, Jabber, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk.
Share sheets is a new feature to make it easier to share links, photos, and videos directly from the OS and apps. Apple has tied up with Vimeo for videos and Flickr for photos.
Twitter and Facebook integration
In similar fashion to iOS, Facebook and Twitter have both been baked into the OS from the ground-up. You’ll be able to poke or tweet from within apps including Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview and third party apps.
One of the most requested features from iOS to make its way to Mountain Lion is Airplay Mirroring. You’ll be able to mirror your Mac screen onto any TV that has an Apple TV connected. There’s support for 720p streaming and Apple have gone to great lengths to make sure games are as responsive as possible when using the app.
With more and more cases of Mac’s getting infected with virus’ and malware Apple has taken steps to make Mountain Lion even safer. Gatekeeper allows you to setup personal security settings, meaning you set it to only allow software from Apple’s App store to be installed, for instance – it’s not going to protect you if you go to a dodgy website – but does add an extra layer of security nonetheless.
Moutain Lion comes with a all-new notification centre – it provide easy acces to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Message, Reminder, system update and third party apps. In a similar fashion to iOS it is dragged into view from the right side rather than the top. Developers will also be able to use notifications as well. You can, of course, choose to temporarily suspend all notifications when you want to do some work or watch a movie.
Safari has seen some tweaks with Mountain Lion, the most notable is the ability to search right from within the address bar a la Chrome or Firefox – there’s also tab synching between your devices via iCloud and some new multitouch gestures.
Mountain Lion for developers
Apple has made a lot of new API’s available to developers – so aspiring devs can use the Game Kit API to untilise Game Centre and are even be able to create multiplayer games that work across Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. There’s a new graphics infrastructure underpins OpenGL and OpenCL and implements GLKit from iOS 5, to make it easier to create OpenGL apps.
Enhanced Multi-Touch APIs give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the system-wide lookup gesture.
Mountain Lion for Chinese users
Mountain Lion introduces new support for Chinese users, “including significant enhancements to the Chinese input method and the option to select Baidu search in Safari.” Apple has also announced easy account setup for some of China’s biggest email service providers including QQ, 126 and 163. Chinese users can also upload video via Share Sheets directly to video websites Youku and Tudou, and while we like Twitter, there’s system-wide support for Sina weibo.
Mountain Lion comes in at a whopping 4GB and is available to download from the Mac App Store from today – it is free to anyone who bought a Mac within the last 31 days.