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Hands on with Apple's new OS X: Mountain Lion

By Jason Snell
February 16, 2012 09:38 AM ET

Macworld - Apple updates its iOS mobile operating system once a year. But why should the iPhone and iPad have all the fun? On Thursday Apple announced that it will release a new version of OS X--Mountain Lion--this summer, just a year after the release of OS X Lion.

Like Lion, Mountain Lion offers numerous feature additions that will be familiar to iOS users. This OS X release continues Apple's philosophy of bringing iOS features "back to the Mac," and includes iMessage, Reminders, Notes, Notification Center, Twitter integration, Game Center, and AirPlay Mirroring.

As the first OS X release post-iCloud, there's also much more thorough integration with Apple's data-syncing service. Mountain Lion also brings options to limit which kinds of apps users can install. And although there are no actual mountain lions in China, OS X Mountain Lion does add a raft of features to speak to users in the country that's Apple's biggest growth opportunity.

Mountain Lion will be a paid upgrade to OS X; like Lion, it will be available only via a Mac App Store download. Apple hasn't yet set a price or a release date more specific than "summer." Mac developers will be able to download a developer release of Mountain Lion on Thursday, giving them several months to update their apps to take advantage of the new features in the release.

I've had a few days to use an early development version of Mountain Lion. Here's a look at what's new so far, keeping in mind that Apple may add and change features over the next few months as we get closer to the planned release.

iOS apps come to the Mac

Mountain Lion comes with several new apps that will seem quite familiar to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users. Reminders, Notes, and Game Center have all made the move to the Mac.

Reminders and Notes look very much like they do on iOS. And thanks to iCloud syncing, they'll display the same data that shows up on your mobile devices. These are still quite simple apps--the goal seems to have been to provide parity with their iOS analogs. The Notes app does support rich text, so you can choose different fonts, insert photos and attachments, create bulleted lists, and drag in URLs to create hyperlinks.

Game Center was introduced to users with iOS 4.1 in September 2010, and expanded in iOS 5. Now it comes to the Mac, letting Mac gamers find friends and compare their gaming prowess, as well as play against each other. Mac game developers get access to a centralized system for network play, opponent matching, in-game voice chat, and more. And yes, Game Center can work across platforms, so games that run on both Mac and iOS can interoperate.

Originally published on www.macworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from Macworld.com. Story copyright 2012 Mac Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.
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