Ever since Apple released OS X Lion, its desktop operating system started the long trek towards iOS, Apple’s other, more popular operating system. With the next version of OS X, Mountain Lion (released today as a developer preview), OS X will prowl even closer to its iOS cousin.
A number of the new features in OS X come directly from iOS. These include deeper iCloud integration, Messages, Reminders, Notes, a Notification Center, a Game Center, AirPlay, and built-in sharing to Twitter, email, and more.
As time goes on, Apple is building more and more iOS features into OS X to create a more seamless experience between the two. As Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned earlier this week at a Goldman Sachs conference, many more people’s first experience of an Apple product is an iPhone or iPad than a Mac. “The iPhone started to introduce Apple to hundreds of millions of people who had never met Apple before,” he said. This famed halo effect of the iPhone is orders of magnitude larger than it was for the iPod. People who buy an iPhone are more likely to buy a Mac, and when they do buy a Mac they are going to expect a familiar experience.
Of all the iOS features being ported to the the Mac, the most significant ones are iCloud, notifications, and social sharing. Of course, iCloud is already a part of some Mac desktop apps like iPhoto, but with Mountain Lion it will embrace iWorks docs. All of your docs will be synced to the cloud, eliminating the headaches of keeping track of different versions. Apple could open up this iCloud functionality to other apps as well, making it a key feature of the OS (but it is going to have to increase the free storage from the measly 5 GB it offers now). iCloud is the link between iOS and OS X apps, and it will only keep growing.
Apple’s own desktop apps such as Safari will start featuring the sharing button icon familiar to iOS users (the box with the right-facing arrow coming out of it). This will allow users to share a web page, photo, or document via email, as a message, to Twitter, or other services. In this way, sharing will be baked right into the OS. Facebook isn’t included as an option here yet, but that could happen if the two companies ever work out their differences.
Finally, adding push notifications to the desktop could be the biggest change of all. Anyone with an iPhone or iPad knows how addictive the app notifications can be (or annoying, if it’s not your iPhone). Notifications have become the new message bus—persistent, always in your face, and realtime. They are IM for apps, and increasingly they are the way our machines talk to us, pulling us into an app with constant pings saying, “Hey, something just happened.” These push notifications will start with Apple apps, but will soon become available to developers via an API. As iOS developers create more Mac companion apps, you should start to see the same notifications pop up whether you are on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007. Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook Air) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, the Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, the iPod, the...
OS X is Apple’s computer operating system, which is pre-loaded on all Apple computers. Mac OS X is a Unix-based operating system, built on technology developed at NeXT between the second half of the 1980s and Apple’s purchase of the company in early 1996. It received UNIX 03 certification following its 10.5 version on Intel processors. OS X v 1.0 was released in 1999, with a second, desktop-oriented version released in March 2001. The most recent version is...
iOS is Apple’s operating system for their mobile devices. It debuted in 2007 with the release of the first iPhone, but has since been extended for use with the iPod touch, iPad, and Apple TV. iOS’ user interface relies on users’ direct manipulation of the product screen with multi-touch gestures, including swipes, pinches, taps, and reverse pinches.