It was only in July last year that OS X Lion was released, today Apple announced a sneak peek at OS X Mountain Lion, 10.8 the next release of OS X.
The first thing that strikes you is the iOSification of OS X. In Mountain Lion you will find Messages, Reminders, Notes, Notifications, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, Game Centre and AirPlay Mirroring. Looking at the new features you may have mistaken that you were looking at iOS rather than OS X. The Sneak Peek page does say “Inspired by iPad. Re-imagined for Mac.
I do think some of the features in OS X Mountain Lion are much needed if you have and reply on an iOS infrastructure. If your friends and colleagues have iPads and iPhones and you have a Mac, you will have wanted some iOS features on your Mac. With Mountain Lion it looks like we’ll be getting them.
Mountain Lion is all about communication and sharing, it’s about connecting with friends and colleagues and sharing images and content. It’s about making the Mac more like the iPad and the iPhone and merging the experience. The back end means you can still run regular apps you do now, but the essence of the operating system will be familar to those people currently using the iPad.
If you think about it, that does make sense for Apple. Most people using the iPhone are Windows users, the same can be said for most iPad users. In order for them to move to the Mac, they are going to want to have a similar experience and feel moving from iOS to OS X. I know many people who are very happy with the iPhone and the iPad, but either don’t feel comfortable with OS X or are wary of moving to what they view as an alien and very different operating system. You can imagine how these iPhone and iPad users would feel if the Mac they saw in the Apple Store looked and worked like the iOS device in their hand.
This is emphasised in the sneak peek video which emphasises how similar OS X Mountain Lion experiences are to the experiences on the iPhone and the iPad.
From a marketing perspective if you want to convert iPad and iPhone users to Mac then making OS X to be similar to iOS is the way to do it.
So what about these new features for Mountain Lion?
Even though there are other messaging tools out there, such as Skype, the fact that Messages will allow communication with iOS devices has to be a plus, as it is built into the mobile operating system. The problem with Skype is that it requires you to open the Skype app and as that can “drain battery” I guess most people don’t have Skype on as a default and I suspect that the same can be said for other messaging apps. Messages on iOS integrates well with SMS so if you are use to SMS you will feel right at home with Messages. I also like the idea of sending images and video straight from my Mac, I can see it replacing e-mail for a lot of communication.
One of the reasons I’ve not used Reminders on the iPad or the iPhone was the lack of integration with OS X, so I am pleased to see that there may be a simple, yet useful, to do list app that works across all my devices.
For similar reasons I don’t use Notes on the iPad or iPhone either. Somehow I don’t think I will swap, as Evernote has much more flexibility than the Notes app, I like how I can add audio and image notes. For many people though the Notes app will be just what they needed.
I do like the idea of Share Sheets, it is one feature of using iOS that I repeatedly miss in OS X and falling back on copy and paste isn’t that bad I know, but once you get use to that “share” button in iOS you do miss it in OS X. In case you don’t know what Share Sheets means, it’s a simple button that allows you to quickly share links, content, images and stuff to places like Twitter, e-mail or Messages.
What the sneak peek does show is how Apple are betting on Twitter over Facebook. You see Twitter integration mentioned all over the place, but not a mention of Facebook. That issue with Ping and Facebook must still be a real issue!
I use AirPlay a fair bit from my iPad, earlier I wrote about how useful I found it with my Apple TV.
Adding this feature to OS X Mountain Lion will certainly be useful to me, especially with web based video that isn’t available on the iPad. Of course there is an assumption that Flash will be available for OS X Mountain Lion and that isn’t a given. I can quite easily imagine Adobe deciding not to make a version of Flash for Mountain Lion.
My over riding impression of Mountain Lion, combined with my experiences of using Lion on a MacBook is that we are seeing the end of the mouse more than anything. The use of the laptop trackpad and the Magic Trackpad in the Mountain Lion video demonstrates that Apple see the future of the human interaction with a Mac through gestures and a trackpad and not a mouse.
We of course haven’t seen any sign in the sneak peek of Siri for Mountain Lion, and I guess that either may arrive later or this is something that isn’t going to happen and I can’t see that happening; much more likely it will appear in the final release in the summer.
So will you be upgrading? My iMac is still running Snow Leopard due to legacy apps, somehow I don’t see me changing my OS just yet… on the laptop, more than likely as it already has Lion.
Overall what we are going to get with Mountain Lion is an iOSification of the Mac operating system, the upgrade is much more about new apps and a few subtle changes, rather than fundamental changes to the operating system.