Apple Brings Mobile To The Desktop With Mac OS 10.8
By Mordechai Osdoby. February 16, 2012, 2:31 PM CDT
I confess to not being as big a fan of Apple’s current iteration of their desktop operating system. Don’t get me wrong, Lion 10.7 is great, but few of the new features are a compelling reason for me to upgrade from 10.6 Snow Leopard. Throw in stuff like FreeNAS not working (as well as UPnP) and I decided to wait it out. After all, the biggest changes to 10.7 were to make it more like the iPhone and iPad’s iOS, and what’s the big appeal of that on a non-touchable device?
Except now Apple has shown a per-developer release of their next OS, Mountain Lion. The slight revision in codename from the last version is reminiscent of how Snow Leopard came after and improved on the promise that Leopard (10.5) showed. So too, with 10.8, Apple is doing more than just throwing a second app launcher on or making the mail client look more like the mobile one. Instead, they’re changing your very workflow. Let’s break down the big changes.
Apple intends to step up their iCloud integration with the ability to store more of your content on the cloud and to have it be the same across devices. The way the syncing is described reminds me very much of HP/Palm’s webOS and how content pushes back down to a restarted device. When you consider how long MobileMe languished in near-obsurity, it’s nice seeing Apple start to fully exploit it. Currently, Apple has three messaging solutions — iChat and Facetime on the desktop, and then a mobile version of Facetime as well as iMessage. With 10.8, Apple intends to ditch iChat and merge that with the functionality of Facetime with Messages, plus the ability to send messages on Apple’s closed iMessage network. This is a solid move, and hopefully we’ll see a similar streamlining for iOS.
Possibly the most interesting change may be the addition of a notification area to the desktop. This reminds me quite a bit of the open source Growl, which is a killer app for a lot of my fellow Mac users. As smartphones get us more and more used to notifications, it makes more sense to see them on a desktop too. I hope this doesn’t come at the expense of the Growl team though, much as adding Widgets to Mac OS effectively killed off Konfabulator, the group that popularized them in the first place.
Other mobile functions being added include a Notes and a Reminders app, tighter Twitter integration, a “share this” option, Apple’s Gamecenter, and the AirPlay wireless screen sharing. There are also some other non-mobile derived features, like the ability to set your machine to only allow apps from the App store (shades of Android).
I used to tell people that it was generally best to upgrade every other version of Mac OS. That was usually a good rule of thumb and I think it stands here. Keep in mind that this is a pre-development build and a lot can change — like right now there’s no news on Siri for the desktop. Imagine how much more compelling this revision might be after more time to gestate.
About Mordechai Osdoby
One of the co-founders of Techcitement, Mordechai is a man whose obsession with tech once led his wife to refer to a laptop as "the other woman".