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By 12 June 2012 | Categories: news

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Besides the upcoming release of its mobile platform, Apple also announced the ninth major release of its desktop operating system (OS), Mac OS X Mountain Lion, during WWDC 2012, currently underway in San Francisco. Mountain Lion will be available in July as a download from the Mac App Store.

Like iOS 6, Mountain Lion introduces more than 200 new features to the company’s computer OS, including the new messages app, notification center, system-wide sharing, as well as Facebook integration.

New messaging app and notifications center

The new messages app replaces iChat and brings iMessage to the Mac, enabling Mac computer users to send messages to anyone using an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or another Mac. Users will be able to include attachments, high quality photos as well as HD video to these messages, whilst group messaging and support for traditional instant messaging (IM) services such as Yahoo! messenger and Google Talk will also feature.

Mountain Lion streamlines the presentation of notifications via the notification center, which enables users to view all their notifications from OS X as well as third party apps in one location.

Like within the notification center for iOS-powered devices, Mac users will be able to customise which apps send notifications, which type of notification they receive, and how many items are displayed within the notification center. If a users wants to focus on their work or watch a movie, they can also opt to temporarily suspend all notifications.

System-wide sharing and Facebook integration

The new system-wide sharing functionality is built into Mountain Lion, making it easier for users to share web links, photos, videos and other files. They simply click on the share button to send items without having to switch to another app, and users only need to sign in once in order to use third-party services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. Facebook and Twitter are integrated within the notification center so that you can receive notifications when someone sends you a message or mentions you in a post or tweet.

Facebook support is built right into OS X courtesy of Mountain Lion, allowing users to post photos, links and make comments straight from their OS X apps. Once a users has signed into their Facebook account, their friends automatically appear in contacts along with the corresponding profile photos.

Dictation, power nap, gatekeeper & reminders and notes app

Also new within Mountain Lion is the dictation feature from the new iPad, which allows users to dictate text messages within any app wherein typing is required. Mountain Lion also introduces power nap that keeps a user’s MacBook Pro with Retina display and MacBook Air (second and third generation) up to date while it sleeps.

Power nap automatically refreshes mail, contacts, calendar, reminders, notes, photostream, find my Mac as well as documents in the Cloud, and when plugged in, downloads software updates or backs up your Mac using the Time Machine functionality.

Apple stated that its new gatekeeper feature makes downloading software from the internet safer, since it provides users with control over which apps can be installed on their Mac. The default setting allows users to install apps from the Mac App Store and apps from developers that have a unique developer ID provided by Apple.

In addition to checking daily for security updates, Mountain Lion includes app sandboxing to keep malware from compromising your system, and kernel ASLR for improved protection against buffer overflow attacks.

A new reminders and notes apps will keep users informed of important tasks and events, whilst iCloud automatically ensures that all of your notes and reminders stay up to date. Documents in the Cloud works also with iCloud-enabled apps such as Apple’s iWork productivity suite, allowing users to access and edit their documents from any Mac or iOS-running mobile device.

Additional new features in Mountain Lion include:

  • AirPlay mirroring - an easy way to wirelessly send an up to full HD (1080p) secure stream of what’s displayed on your Mac to an HDTV via Apple TV, or send audio to a receiver or speakers that employs AirPlay.
  • Game center, which brings the popular social gaming network from iOS to the Mac so users can play multiplayer games against their friends that utilise a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
  • A snappier Safari browser with a unified smart search field, iCloud tabs that present a user’s open tabs across all devices, and a new tab view to quickly swipe through them.
  • Over 1700 new APIs (application programming interfaces) that provides developers with access to the latest core OS and web technologies.
Cupertino stated that Mac OS X Mountain Lion will be available in July from the Mac App Store for $19.99 (almost R170, local pricing will be announced closer to the release date). This OS upgrade will be available for free via the Mac App Store to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple authorised reseller on or after 11 June 2012.

Mountain Lion requires Mac OS X Lion or Snow Leopard (OS X v10.6.8 or later) to be installed, 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of available HDD space.

“The pace of innovation on the Mac is amazing, OS X Mountain Lion comes just a year after the incredibly successful launch of Lion,” stated Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. “With iCloud built right in and the new notification center, messages, dictation, Facebook integration and more, this is the best OS X yet.”

In other desktop OS related news, Microsoft recently announced an upgrade offer for Windows 8, enabling PC users who purchase a qualifying new system to update to Windows 8 at a reduced price, when this OS becomes available later this year.

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