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Apple Previews Mountain Lion OS

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When it comes to Apple software, the master is continuing to learn from its star pupil.

Apple (NASDAQ:APPL) announced today a developer preview of its upcoming Mac OSX 10.8, codenamed Mountain Lion. The developer preview for the Mountain release is coming just over a year after Mac OSX 10.7, codenamed Lion, had its first developer preview.

With the Mountain Lion release, Apple is set to continue its trend of enabling its Mac OS lineup with features that first debuted on its iOS-enabled devices. The iOS mobile operating system was originally started as a stripped down mobile version of Mac OS. In recent releases, iOS has added multiple features that are not present in Mac OS, as the popularity of iOS devices as continued to grow.

The iOS 5 release introduced a new notification center, similar to the one that Android users have enjoyed for years. With the notification center, all system, program and alert information is converged into a single view. With the Mountain Lion release, Apple will now be bringing notifications to Mac OS too.

Another key feature that debuted in iOS 5 that is now coming to Mac OS is the Messages app. Messages replaces Apple’s iChat, which is an instant messaging service. Messages supports AIM, Yahoo! Mesenger as well as Google Talk to help enable Mountain Lion users chat with multiple services.

The Mountain Lion release will also get the Notes app, that has been in IOS since its initial release. Notes is a simple note-taking application that can integrate with picture and video content.

Tying it all together is expanded iCloud functionality to help synchronize data for Mac OS users with their iOS devices. The iCloud service has been available for the current 10.7 Lion release, however with 10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple plans on deeper integration with more functionality. The iCloud service originally debuted as part of the iOS 5 release. According to Apple, there are already 100 million people that have iCloud accounts.

Going beyond just taking ideas from iOS, the Mountain Lion release will also deliver a new security feature called Gatekeeper. With Gatekeeper, Apple is giving its Mac OS users more control and security over what can be downloaded and installed to their Macs. Instead of just enabling any site to be a download source, with Gatekeeper, Mountain Lion users will be able to restrict downloads just to the Mac OS AppStore or to developers that have a unique Apple Developer ID.

“The Mac is on a roll, growing faster than the PC for 23 straight quarters, and with Mountain Lion things get even better,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing in a statement. “The developer preview of Mountain Lion comes just seven months after the incredibly successful release of Lion and sets a rapid pace of development for the world’s most advanced personal computer operating system.”

The Mac OS 10.8 Mountain Lion is currently in developer preview with general availability set for the summer of 2012.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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