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OS X Mountain Lion Springs Into Action

By Peter Suciu MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jul 25, 2012 11:06 PM PT

There is the old proverb, "if the mountain won't come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain," but in Apple's case it is the Lion that has gone to the Mountain. On Wednesday, Apple released its latest update, Mountain Lion, which picks up where last year's OS X Lion update leaves off.

OS X Mountain Lion Springs Into Action

This is the 10th iteration of the Mac operating system since the first public beta appeared way back in September 2000 -- and a dozen years later, this one roars, if not as loudly. Still, the cat is out of the bag -- this year's upgrade is available as a digital download only for just US$19.99.

"The Apple OS upgrade is a minor release," said Josh Crandall, principal analyst for Netpop Research.

But for diehard Apple fans, is there really such a thing as a minor release?

"It is a gentler upgrade than Lion was a year ago, but it is broadly based," said Ezra Gottheil, senior analyst, computing practice, for Technology Business Research. "There isn't one killer feature, but it will be a lot easier to take. And Apple users will want this upgrade."

Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

Feature Filled

Mountain Lion has been developed to run on most Macs sold since 2007, so even those users who haven't updated their hardware will likely be able to take advantage of the new upgrade, which does promise a plethora of features.

How many of those new additions will actually be used is the question.

"Boasting over 200 new features reveals that quantity, more than quality, is the selling point," Crandall told MacNewsWorld. "But, when it comes to niche features, how many do consumers actually use? Some consumers may realize that 200 more features may cause additional confusion rather than improving the experience."

Early reaction has been positive, "the early reaction is really a long reaction, as it has been in beta for a while," said Gottheil. Apple actually released the beta version back in February.

"There are reportedly fewer glitches than Lion had when it came out," he said, "... but this is really just about refinement and polishing."

A Mobile Mountain Lion?

The biggest question is whether Mountain Lion climbs higher toward the iCloud and whether it will see greater integration with iOS. Mountain Lion does make available some iOS features including push notifications, Messages, Reminders and Notification Center. Is this a move toward a single OS for all Apple offerings?

"I don't think so, and I don't think there is any need to do it," said Gottheil. "If it happens, it will be so deep into each manifestation of each that users won't care or possibly notice."

However, this could result in greater integration and compatibly with iOS and iCloud, Gottheil told MacNewsWorld. "We're seeing the direction it is going, and users live in a multi-device world. Your data can be where you happen to be at the time."

Apple is likely to make that integration possible, but given the different nature of the hardware, it is unlikely that OS X and iOS will result in a single OS in the foreseeable future.

"There will be a little more meshing between the desktop platform and iOS, and apps such as Messages, the texting application, [are] now available on Mountain Lion," said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst, compute platforms, at IHS iSuppli. "What we are seeing is greater connectivity with other devices."

iOS and OS X as One?

Even beyond the immediate release of Mountain Lion, or whatever cat Apple goes with next, it is unlikely that iOS and OS X will result in a "ONE OS."

"I don't think there will be one OS that will run across all the Apple devices," added Stice. "Apple manages their hardware so well, and it seems they need to separate systems as efficiently as they want to."

Instead it is likely that aforementioned connectivity will just allow more connection. But then again, never say never with Apple.

"I tend to believe no and that Apple won't merge the systems," said Stice. "But Apple is so secretive that it is hard to know what they will do next."

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