Apple's Mountain Lion doesn't roar. It tweets.
The preview of Apple's forthcoming desktop software, OS X Mountain Lion, underscores the tech giant's deepening commitment to integrating social media into its offerings and its increasingly close ties to Twitter, which will be featured throughout the Mac operating system.
Yet not all social sites are enjoying equal treatment by Apple: while Apple is sticking with Twitter, it seems to be sticking it to Facebook.
Gigaom's Om Malik observes that Twitter is "pretty much everywhere inside the new operating system." In the "sneak peek" at OS X Mountain Lion Apple published Thursday, the Cupertino, Calif. company highlighted "tweet-friendly apps," such as Safari and iPhoto, that will allow users to tweet links and photos without ever leaving the applications. In addition, Mac owners will be able to browse their Twitter notifications directly from their desktops, and sync profile information from Twitter with their Mac address books. Apple has also made it possible for developers to add "tweet sheets" to their apps in order to make sharing on Twitter easy and instantaneous across a range of applications. In short, Twitter will occupy prime real estate throughout the new Mac Operating system, and Apple's tens of millions of Mac users will see the social site's small blue Twitter bird front-and-center each time they go to share a story or post a photo.
Facebook enjoys no such perks. Mashable notes that "integration with the service is the absolute minimum, amounting to barely an acknowledgment," and consists mainly of the ability to share from QuickTime and iPhoto on Facebook.
the social network "isn't 100% absent," yet "integration with the service is the absolute minimum, amounting to barely an acknowledgment."
Apple's most recent iPhone operating system, iOS 5, offered a similar integration with Twitter, so Mountain Lion's Twitter features don't come as a complete surprise. Apple has, after all, made an effort to provide a more consistent experience across its different devices with products such as iCloud, and the company made a point of noting that Mountain Lion was "designed with innovations from iPad."
Yet this doesn't entirely explain Apple's emphasis on Twitter over Facebook, which remains puzzling given the sites' relative popularity and size. Twitter has 100 million active users, nearly half of whom tend not to tweet. Facebook, the world's largest social networking site, boasts more than 845 million users and a far more mainstream following.
Some tech pundits speculate that relations between Apple and Facebook have been tense since a falling out in 2010 over negotiations relating to Apple's social music service Ping. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs stated publicly that Facebook had insisted on "onerous terms," and ultimately the two sides couldn't reach an agreement.
With Mountain Lion, Apple has also shied away from partnerships with Google and Microsoft. The forthcoming Mac operating system notably includes integration with video sharing site Vimeo, but not Google's YouTube.
Twitter's gain may ultimately be Facebook's pain.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo noted at the Web 2.0 Summit last fall that Twitter's "fricitonless" integration with Apple's operating system had tripled sign ups for the social site via iOS 5 devices.
"The iOS integration is going to be absolutely huge for us, even better than we thought it was," Costolo said, according to AllThingsD. "It's so native."
For more of the coolest new features Mountain Lion will bring to OS X, take a look through our slideshow (below).
One of the biggest surprises is wholesale Twitter integration into the Mac operating system. Apple already shocked many with its announcement that sharing to Twitter -- and not Facebook -- would be baked into iOS, and now it is doubling down on that strategy with Mountain Lion OS X. Many apps, including Safari, Photo Booth, and third-party apps, will have the option to launch a pop-up Twitter window to share whatever it is you're doing. Notifications from Twitter will also appear in the new Mountain Lion Notification Center.
Apple is expanding the domain of iCloud, the cloud-based storage system for photos, documents and more that it introduced with iOS 5 in 2011. Now iCloud will automatically sync the mail, contacts, calendar and documents on your Mac as soon as you update them across all of your devices (if you want it to). Like it does when you register a new iPhone, when you register a new device with OS X Mountain Lion you will go through a sign-up process (or log-in screen) for iCloud.
One of the most popular (and controversial) features of iOS 5 was iMessage, Apple's text message killer -- any device with iOS 5 (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) was able to messages to any other iOS 5 device for free over the mobile network, totally avoiding SMS charges from the carrier. Now Apple is bringing that functionality to the Mac, with a service it's calling "Messages Everywhere." Message will replace iChat and will enable users to send Messages from the Mac to any iOS 5 or Mountain Lion OS X device for free. Conversations in Message will stay up-to-date across all of your devices, regardless of where you're sending and receiving. Those interested can actually download a free Beta version of Message for Mac right now; no word on whether Apple has plans for a Windows version.
Gatekeeper is Apple's defense against malicious apps from getting on your computer. Mountain Lion users will have three options for what kind of applications they can download onto their machines: Any apps at all (as on OS X Lion); only apps from the Mac App Store (the highest security setting); or apps from the Mac App Store or from those with an Apple developer ID (the new default setting). TechCrunch's MG Siegler calls this the most controversial new feature of Mountain Lion: Developers now have to sign up to be a Mac developer, which apparently will cost $99, before their applications will be able to be downloaded in the default Mountain Lion settings. Those settings, of course, can be changed by the user. Read more about Gatekeeper on Apple's website.
Another new app with iOS 5, Reminders is a to-do list that will also come to OS X Mountain Lion and will also stay synced across Mac devices with iCloud.
The Notification Center from iOS 5 will also come to the desktop on Mountain Lion. Unlike on iOS 5, where your Notification Center appears when you swipe down from the top of the screen, the Notification Center in Mountain Lion will appear from the right side of your monitor. Small notification banners will also pop-up in the upper right hand corner of the screen as the notifications appear, much as they do now.
Apple is inserting the Share button from iOS -- the company is calling it "Share Sheets" -- into many of its Mountain Lion apps, most notably Safari. On any webpage, you'll be able to click the Share button and send a link to Twitter, Mail, iMessage, Flickr, Vimeo and several other apps. This was one of the big features being touted by Microsoft in Windows 8, and it appears that Mountain Lion OS X will beat them to release with Share Sheets.
For those that use Game Center -- the Apple social gaming network available for many of the most popular games on iOS devices -- here's some good news: Now you'll be able to sign in and play your Game Center games on your Mac with Mountain Lion. Your Game Center account is the same as your Apple ID and will sync up across all Apple devices.
AirPlay for iOS devices allows iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users to transmit their screens onto their televisions through their Apple TV boxes. Now Mac computers will get AirPlay with Mountain Lion, which Apple is touting as a useful feature for Keynote (its slideshow presentation app) and iMovie.