Today Apple announced the next update to OSX, dubbed Mountain Lion. For the record, they already used this name as “Puma” in OS 10.1, but that is neither here or there. Apple has announced many new features that bring Mac and iOS closer together.
REMINDERS, NOTES, AND NOTIFICATIONS:
Among the apps being brought to OSX are Reminders, Notes, and the Notification Center. First, Reminders and Notes will have their own apps on the Mac and sync directly with your iDevice through those apps. For Reminders, this means you will be able to directly create new reminders from your Mac that will sync to your iDevice, without having to always whip it out for that quick update to your grocery list. Notes will also be leaving the Mail app on Mac to become their own app, a transfer that I believe makes a lot more sense. The new Notes app will also support easy additions of Rich Text formatting, pictures, and allow you to pin notes to your desktop. This may indicate that the Mac’s Sticky Notes App is getting replaced with this new Notes app. Both of these apps look much like their iOS counterparts in terms of design and layout.
Mac users have routinely have used a notification system like Growl to keep track of everything from downloads, to their Twitter feeds. But Apple is bringing the Notification Center from iOS 5 to Mountain
Lion. With a quick swipe to the left, and you’ll see the whole of Notification Center on the right side of the screen. As more apps integrate with the Notification Center API (Apple apps already will have integrated), you’ll see pop ups in the top right hand corner of your screen as things change, like new Mail, reminders, etc. This is very similar to Growl, but it hopefully means that every time I update an app, I won’t have to worry about breaking Growl (especially Mail). I do wonder how this will affect side-swiping in Mission Control and the use of multiple desktops, but I’m sure Apple will have something for this.
In iOS 4, Game Center was introduced as a central hub for players to keep track of all their achievements, compete with friends, and get more out of their gaming experience. This is being brought to Mountain Lion. Not only will Gaming Center keep track of all your achievements and friends lists from your iOS device, there seems to be rumblings that it can integrate with Mac games. The ability to quickly have achievements and high scores in a unified place, whether it be Angry Birds, Sid Meier’s Civilization, or Call of Duty, will bring iOS and Mac closer together. Not only that, but it may also help spur the growth of gaming on the Mac, much has Steam has done.
On iOS, there was Messages. On Mac, there was iChat. iChat supported multiple chat protocols like GTalk, AIM, Facebook, and more. Messages on iOS only did text messaging and with iOS 5 it gained iMessage. It was only a matter of time, we believed, that iChat and Messages would finally merge with the advent of iMessage. This comes true with Mountain Lion; Mountain Lion merges iChat on Mac with the iMessage features of iOS. When launching the app, you sign in with your Apple ID to use iMessage, as well as your other chat groups like AIM and GTalk. The interface is now a lot like the iPad version of Messages, with your recent conversations on the side, and the selected conversation on the right. You can also easily share links, pictures, and video by dragging them into Messages. Messages is currently in Beta, so you can download it here: https://www.apple.com/macosx/mountain-lion/messages-beta/. Note that you will have to restart you Mac, and it replaces iChat on your Mac. You will, however, still keep all the other features of iChat, including your other login information for other protocols.
Apple has marketed Airplay as a great way to stream media from your iDevice or Mac to any other compatible device on your network. Now Apple has taken a very logical step forward by allowing you to mirror your desktop to any TV connected to an Apple TV. You can then view your desktop, watch movies, give presentations, and more all through your Apple TV. Currently, I don’t know how well this technology works, but for people with small screens, who need a bigger screen for a project, or just to watch a video, this is a step in the right direction. However, it also means to implement this feature, you’ll likely be drawn more into the Apple universe.
People like to share stuff, no doubt about that. And with Mountain Lion, more social features have been added.
With iOS 5, Apple added Twitter integration into iOS, allowing you to quickly tweet photos, links, and more to the world. Apple has added Twitter integration into Mountain Lion too. Sign into Twitter on your Mac and you can easily tweet from your desktop, Safari, and more. If Twitter integration on the Mac is anything like it is on the iPhone, you will likely need to have the official Twitter app installed from the Mac App Store.
Among other things added, Flickr and Vimeo accounts can be linked from the Mail, Contacts, and Calendars preference page. This will allow your apps to quickly share pictures and video to more
sites. Having this kind of integration could also mean you will not have to constantly log into said accounts in other apps like iPhoto and iMovie. Having it all in one place could be a big time saver.
All of this comes together in what Apple calls Share Sheets. When using Safari on an iDevice, there is the share arrow that allows you to quickly email, bookmarks, or tweet links and media from wherever your are. Mountain Lion gets the same abilities in Safari, Photo Booth, and more. Along with the new social media outlets, you can quickly share those links in Safari into Mail, Messages, Twitter, and more. Photo Booth will also have more sharing options, so you can share those crazy pictures of yourself with the world.
This feature seems a little more controversial. In lieu of the recent malware attacks, such as MacDefender, Mountain Lion will use a technology Apple is calling Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper allows more control over your Mac by letting you control from what sources your Mac can install apps. At the moment there are three settings: Anywhere, only the Mac App Store, and Mac App Store & Identified Developers. The first one setting is what most Mac users are used to; installing apps from anywhere on the web, whether the apps are in or out of the Mac App Store. The 2nd setting is similar to iOS, where you can only install apps from Apple’s Mac App Store, where they screen apps for quality and security. The last setting means that Apple will be giving special ID’s to software developers outside of the Mac App Store in order make sure they are well-meaning developers (like Mozilla, Google, etc.) and are not malware developers. While this certainly allows for more security, there is the risk of isolating software developers and limiting innovation on the Mac. However the fact that there is a switch allowing you to easily change this option is something no one is complaining about.
Lastly, Chinese users are getting a major upgrade to their systems. In the new social features, Apple will be adding popular Chinese site like Tadou video sharing, QQ chat, and Baidu search, among other things. Also a welcome change for Chinese users is better support for Chinese characters, so that reading and writing in Pinyin & Mandarin will be easier, more accurate, and faster.
The Developer Preview is has just started and more features are likely to be added as time goes by. I will be giving some of my opinions about some of these topics soon. For now, what do you think? Are you excited for the changes? Angry at the iOS-ification of the Mac? Feel free to share. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen. You can also check out my Google Plus Page. Thanks!