Apple today unveiled Mountain Lion, the coming update to OS X v10.7 (Lion). The marketing-speak includes terms such as “further ahead” and “The Features you know. Like you’ve never seen.” So, users can mainly expect refinements to the current version of Lion, much as Snow Leopard was an enhanced (and quite successful) update to Mac OS X v10.6 (Leopard).
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great updates worth talking about, including one that’s available right now—the beta for the iChat replacement: Messages.
First, though, the Loop’s Jim Dalrymple has been using Mountain Lion for a week now, and had this to say:
Mountain Lion will be released this summer. Pricing isn’t currently available, but it should come as no surprise that Mountain Lion will only be available via the Mac App Store when it’s released.
If there was a theme in Mountain Lion, I’d have to say it’s familiarity. Apple brought many new features into the new operating system from iOS, so millions of users will recognize the names of the apps and features.
However, Apple didn’t just take a mobile feature and throw it on Mac. Rather, they adapted the features from iOS to make them work in Mountain Lion.
In other words, the new features work as well on the desktop as they work on an iPhone or iPad.
He goes on to offer plenty of details on Messages, iCloud, Notification Center, AirPlay, additional iOS features (including Game Center!) and plenty more, so it’s definitely worth a read.
And before Mac users start to panic OS X’s supposed morphing into iOS, take a deep breath and calm down. The company is not trying to make your Macintosh work like your iPhone. They’re looking to integrate the feature set, but allow you to control them in a way that’s natural to the system. This isn’t the Microsoft approach to integration. Also from The Loop:
Microsoft is trying to shoehorn one operating system into the desktop and mobile spaces, but that will ultimately fail. They are different platforms and should be treated differently.
What Apple is doing with Mountain Lion is taking some of the more common features on iOS and bringing them to the desktop. However, Apple is not just plunking down features that don’t make sense, they are doing thinking about how users will interact with the apps and features on a mobile OS and a desktop OS.
A good way to test this is to download the public beta of Messages and compare the functionality with that of iChat, which it will ultimately replace. One great new feature: you can now initiate Messages conversations via an Apple ID or phone number, not just a user name, just like you can with iOS.
Messages is available now via Apple’s website. Mountain Lion will be available this summer.