OS X Mountain Lion to feature iMessage, iCloud integration
The next iteration of the OS X operating system, version 10.8 Mountain Lion, is expected to launch this summer. And far from adopting a from-the-ground-up rewrite like what Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is doing with Windows 8, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is approaching the update by taking OS X's integration with the highly successful iOS platform to a whole new level.
The iChat app, for example, will be replaced with Messages, which allows an OS X user running Mountain Lion to send an iMessage to any iPhone, iPad or iPad device running on iOS 5. Moreover, iMessage will support the concept of continuous chat by pushing out messages to all iOS-based devices. This is similar to the continuous chat feature offered by the Trillian chat client, where IM conversations that start on a desktop can be continued via smartphone without missing a beat. Note that Apple is also offering a beta version of Messages as a standalone download for users of OS X Lion.
In addition, Mountain Lion will also feature a number of apps popularized by the iOS platform, such as Reminders, Notes and the Notification Center. Located at the upper-right corner of the screen, the Notification Center will aggregate a range of items including FaceTime missed calls, iMessages, Mac App Store updates and even notifications from third-party apps--and is customizable by users. What's more, OS X 10.8 will also incorporate AirPlay Mirroring, which allows a 720p video stream with audio to be sent to an Apple TV 2 when on the same wireless network.
It is clear that Apple's strategy involves leveraging the popularity of its iOS platform to attract more users to its OS X platform. While the new version doesn't come with any features that will appeal directly to the IT department, the trend of BYOD (bring your own device) and certain business-friendly features like AirPlay Mirroring will only add pressure to enterprises to integrate the Mac into their corporate networks.