02/16/2012 08:21 pm ET

With Mountain Lion, Apple Hugs Twitter A Little Tighter

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.

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).

OS X Mountain Lion Features (CLONED)