Apple quietly released a developer preview of the next version of the OS X software February 16, 2012 - that new version has been dubbed OS X Mountain Lion. So what is this next big cat bringing to your Mac?
You could have knocked me over with a feather this morning as I read the
announcement about OS X Mountain Lion. Don't they usually have some
big, theatrical production when they announce anything new? Didn't they
just release Lion the other day?
Okay, so it was closer to 7 months ago, but it still seems way too soon to see another major OS X update. That begs the question, how major is it really?
After looking at the various Mac rumor sites, CNET, and the Apple site itself, it became clear. What is coming to a Mac near you is iOS - or more specifically, certain features of iOS 5 that run on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Here's a brief run-down on what they've announced so far.
- Notification Center - keeps all your notices of emails, calendar alerts, instant messages and such, all in one convenient location that you can access with a quick swipe of your trackpad.
- Reminders - this features houses all your "to-do" lists, or other things you want to remember or be reminded of at some point in time. In conjunction with iCloud, this feature keeps you on track using your Mac, iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, or all of the above!
- Messages - iChat is being replaced with Messages. Part of the Messages feature is iMessage - just like you have on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5. iMessage allows you to send instant messages to anyone on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running iOS 5, or another Mac running OS X Mountain Lion. You can send just about anything - photos, documents, videos - and you can send them to a group. Just like most other instant message clients, you can see when your recipient receives your message and if they are in the process of replying, you see a bubble with ellipses (...) inside. What is really cool (in my opinion) is that your conversations can start on a Mac and pick up later on another "i" device. Love it! If you are running OS X Lion, you can download a beta of this application from the Apple website at http://www.apple.com/macosx/mountain-lion/messages-beta/
- Notes - Notes is something I use quite a lot on my iPhone and I'm happy to see it make it's way to OS X. You can even pin notes to your desktop for easy access.
- Game Center - this is not a feature I have ever used on my iPhone or iPad, but I know a lot of people who do. If you are one of those people, I'm sure you'll be happy to have the same feature available on your Mac.
- Twitter - If you're a hard-core tweeter, you'll enjoy having the ability to tweet anything and everything right within your apps. They specifically mention this in conjunction with Safari, iPhoto and Photo Booth, but I assume it could be integrated elsewhere. You'll also get immediate notification if you are mentioned in a tweet or sent a direct message.
- Share Sheet - This one had me guessing. A Share Sheet icon will be built into many of the OS X Mountain Lion apps (it looks like a rectangle with an arrow coming out of it - if you are an iOS 5 user it will look familiar). When clicked, it allows you to share just about anything in a variety of ways including Mail, Messages, Twitter, Flickr, and more.
- Gate Keeper - Macs have always been known as safe and secure from viruses and phishing, but more and more people worry about downloading unsafe applications from the Internet (or someone downloading without your knowledge). Gate Keeper covers the bases. You can set it to allow you to download anything from anywhere, much as you are used to with Lion, or you can set it to only download and run apps from the Mac App Store or only those apps that have a verified Apple Developer ID. To be super secure, you can set it to only allow you to download and run apps from the Mac App Store.
- AirPlay Mirroring - You can run whatever is on your Mac through your television, using Apple TV. You can already do this with your iPad, so it only makes sense that you will be able to do it from your Mac as well.
In addition to these features, iCloud is even easier to use. You sign in once and it immediately begins storing all the content on your Mac and keeping it up to date with all of your i-devices.
There's probably more to come as this was touted as a "sneak peek," and you can be sure that here at Que we will be bringing you plenty of resources in the form of articles and books to help get you up to speed using OS X Mountain Lion.