Apple lets Mountain Lion out of the bag

Apple has given a sneak peek of the next version of its desktop operating system, which incorporates features from the mobile iOS platform, paving the way for further integration of services
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Apple has released a developer preview of the next iteration of the OS X platform, code-named Mountain Lion, which the company says brings more than 100 new features to the operating system.

Message for Mac

Mac OS X 10.1 Mountain Lion introduces Messages, along with a raft of popular features from iOS. Image credit: Kent German/CNET News

The new OS, previewed on Thursday, is currently available to download for registered Mac Developer Programme members, but will be made available for other users in "late summer" this year.

New features in OS X 10.8 include an overhauled notifications system, while popular iOS apps such as Notes, Reminders and the Game Center come to Macs for the first time, bringing Apple's mobile and desktop platforms closer together. It also adds Messages to OS X, allowing people to send unlimited messages, including pictures, to other Macs, iPhones or iPads. This replaces the iChat feature found in earlier versions.

"The developer preview of Mountain Lion comes just seven months after the incredibly successful release of Lion and sets a rapid pace of development for the world's most advanced personal computer operating system," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said in a statement.

The release also adds other features from the mobile iOS platform, such as Twitter integration and AirPlay Mirroring, and has been built "with iCloud in mind" for easier setup and app integration, Apple said. It also comes with system-wide Share Sheets, making it easier to share links, photos or videos from native or third-party apps.

Following a number of recent privacy and security scares, Apple has also added a new security feature called Gatekeeper to Mountain Lion, which allows users to choose which apps can be downloaded and installed.

"You can choose to install apps from any source, just as you do on a Mac today, or you can use the safer default setting to install apps from the Mac App Store, along with apps from developers that have a unique Developer ID from Apple," the company said. "For maximum security, you can set Gatekeeper to only allow apps from the Mac App Store to be downloaded and installed."

Clearly addressing its Chinese aspirations, Apple has included features aimed specifically at Chinese users, including changes to the input method and the ability to select Baidu as the default search engine in the Safari browser.

The company has also given developers new APIs to make use of the new features in Mountain Lion.

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