Feb. 16, 2012 at 9:34 AM ET
Only about half a year has passed since Apple released Mac OS X Lion, but the Cupertino-based company is already teasing us with a peek at the next version of its operating system. It's called Mountain Lion and it will bring over 100 new features such as iMessage, Notification Center, Reminders, Game Center, AirPlay Mirroring and Gatekeeper.
Mountain Lion — which is also known as Mac OS X 10.8 — is only available to Apple developers at this time. The rest of us will have to wait until "late summer 2012" to upgrade our devices. But once we finally are able to upgrade to Mountain Lion, we will be able to take advantage of a pile of new features — many of which resemble tools available in iOS, Apple's mobile operating system.
These features include a Notification Center which will provide a central location for alerts from apps such as Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders and more. It should feel familiar to iOS users as well as folks who have used a third-party app such as Growl to trigger alerts on their Mac computers.
Mountain Lion also brings a new Messages app which replaces iChat and adds iMessage support to Mac (while continuing to offer access to AIM, Jabber, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk, of course). To continue the theme of iOS-like additions to Mac OS X, there will also be Reminders, Notes, and Game Center apps as well as AirPlay Mirroring.
A system-wide Share Sheets app will allow users to quickly and easily share links, images and videos directly from apps — whether they are Apple's or a third-party's. Oh, and there is also full Twitter integration in Moutain Lion, meaning that users can tweet directly from Safari, Photo Booth and other apps.
Apple has also added a new security feature called Gatekeeper to the latest version of its operating system. This feature will give users significant control over which apps can be downloaded and installed.
According to Apple, Mountain Lion is the "first OS X release built with iCloud in mind for easy setup and integration with apps" and the service appears to be tightly integrated into the operating system. For example: Logging into iCloud upon installing Mountain Lion will automatically set up Contacts, Mail, Calendar, Messages, FaceTime and Find My Mac.
Overall, Mountain Lion already sounds like a solid upgrade and one which binds iOS and Mac OS X closer together. It's worth repeating that the key features listed above are only a portion of the more than 100 changes and additions the new operating system brings. We'll be keeping an eye out for more details about Mountain Lion and counting the days until its summer release.
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