Apple’s ‘Mountain Lion’ brings iOS features to Macs

February 16, 2012

Apple unveiled a preview of its latest version of OS X Thursday. The Post’s Sarah Halzack reports:

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook on Thursday revealed a new version of its operating system for the electronics maker’s laptop and desktop computers.

Cook said the product, dubbed Mountain Lion, will be made available to developers Thursday with a wider release to consumers slated for this summer.

Mountain Lion will take a page from Apple’s iOS, which is the software that runs on iPads and iPhones. Its features will include integration with Apple’s cloud service and a notification functionality that mirrors the one seen on the company’s popular smartphone. Mountain Lion also does away with iChat and replaces it with an app called Messages.

There are features, however, that are exclusive to the new version of Apple’s operating system. The Verge reports:

Apple's introducing Gatekeeper, which can only be described as a bold new middle ground for app distribution: an optional setting in OS X 10.8 allows users to restrict their systems to run only apps that have been signed by trusted developers using a free certificate provided by Apple. It's somewhere between the locked-down and curated Mac App Store and the totally unrestricted world of the web, and the goal is to prevent malware from running while still allowing users to download apps from the open web — and turning off all the locks is still just a click away.

In addition, Mountain Lion includes Game Center and GameKit, which allows for cross-platform multiplayer gaming and achievements. There's also enhanced iCloud support across the entire system, further refinements to Mail, new Twitter integration with a iOS-like Share button available across apps, and a host of additions and features specific to China, Apple's fastest-growing market. It's a ton of stuff; Mountain Lion is very much a major new version of OS X, not just a polish-and-stabilize job like Snow Leopard.

In other Apple news, the tech behemoth finally announced revealed how it felt about apps that upload users’ contact information to their servers. VentureBeat.com reports:

Companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Foodspotting, Yelp, Path, and Gowalla have been uploading your contact data, often without making it clear that’s what they’re doing. According to Apple, if those apps aren’t explicit about what they’re doing, they’re in violation of Apple’s App Store rules.

“Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines,” Apple said in a statement provided to VentureBeat. “We’re working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have done with location services, any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.”

The guidelines do not, however, specify any information about encrypting or hashing the data to secure it during the transfer process. The guidelines also say nothing about whether the company can store the data on its servers after uploading it. As long as an app company provides information about how the information will be used, it’s in the clear.

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