If you're in the market for a new Apple computer, hold your horses: the latest version of Mac OS X, Mountain Lion, is set to be released just around the corner - this summer). The aim of the OS update is to bring together the Mac OS and iOS and in doing so corralling even more people into their closed ecosystem. Here's the run down of the top features to look for in OS 10.8.
If you've used iOS 5 you'll recognise this. Accessing the notification centre is easy, just drag two fingers to the left on your trackpad revealing the notification centre on the right hand side of the screen. The notifications will vary, incorporating a plethora of apps - iMessage, Email, Twitter, Calendar, reminders etc.
Hoping to sell more Apple TVs, any computer running Mountain Lion will be able to create a wireless 720p stream to the box, essentially turning your 50" plasma into a giant monitor.
Currently, I can't see much use for this. If you keep your films in iTunes, the Apple TV can natively stream them. Unless you're planning to set up a 720p stream of Portal 2 to your TV (which you would silly to do), then it probably won't be of too much use.
Similarly to the iOS app store, Apple will now curate Mac App Store apps and app developers for their desktop machines in a bid to make them completely safe for the average user. Mountain Lion users will have to choose whether they want a 100% safe machine - only allowing Mac App Store downloads -or- a computer which can install any software from the internet -or- a machine which can only install Mac App Store apps and apps from 'approved developers'
Apple will be dishing out unique Developer IDs which certifies that apps from that developer are safe in addition to their curated app store. If your computer isn't set to the option that allows any software to be installed, software not signed with a developer ID will be blocked from being installed.
Another feature port from iOS. Game Centre allows you to set up multiplayer games with friends on iOS devices. Presumably OS X games will get Game Centre functionality too providing that the developers want to add it.
Personally, I can't see indie game developers moving from Steam to Game Centre unless multiple gaming social features are allowed. Of course there are already games in the Mac App Store.
Messages is replacing iChat, found in previous OS versions. It will function just like iMessenger on iOS devices and it will be capable of cross-platform chat (OS X - iOS).
Mac OS 10.8 Mountain Lion is set to be one of Apple's 'mane' attractions for the year. Personally, I think Apple are being very clever, incorporating features iOS users are familiar with into Mac OS, it will make it much easier for users to transition to OS X if they have used an iOS device before - in this day and age, who hasn't? However, I'm not a fan of locking people into Apple's walled garden. With 'certified' apps taking priority, it will force software developers to cater exclusively to Apples taste and may involve them jumping through hoops to get approved. I think I'll be sticking to Windows 8.