Apple announced today the release of a developer build of the next major version of the Mac operating system, Mountain Lion. The build is available to Mac Developer Program members starting today and will be released in the Mac App Store late this summer.
Apple states that Mountain Lion contains over 100 new features and introduces several new apps and features to the Mac that already exist in iOS for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Mountain Lion will include versions of the Messages, Reminders, Notes, and Game Center apps originally available in iOS. Mountain Lion will also include deeper integration with iCloud for email, contacts, calendar, and document synchronization, a Notification Center feature to centralize alerts, and Twitter integration.
The Messages application in Mountain Lion will operate like its iOS counterpart, allowing users to send text messages, pictures, and videos quickly to other Macs and iOS devices. Messages on the Mac will replace iChat and a beta version is available for download here (this beta requires Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3).
Notification Center on the Mac will provide easy access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages and other standard Apple apps plus third-party apps. Also coming to the Mac in Mountain Lion is AirPlay Mirroring for streaming of video from a Mac to an HD TV through Apple TV.
Also coming to Mountain Lion is a new security feature called GateKeeper, which offers users more security options when it comes to downloading and installing applications. GateKeeper’s settings can allow apps to be installed from any source or restrict app installation to those obtained from the Mac App Store only.
Apple has created a demo video to preview many of the new features in Mountain Lion, which can be viewed on the company’s site here.
According to Pocket-Lint, Mountain Lion will be available only through the Mac App Store with no option to purchase a DVD or USB thumb drive. Mac OS Lion was originally released in the Mac App Store only last year, though Apple also offered the operating system for purchase on a USB thumb drive shortly after its release.
If the release of this build felt a bit sudden to you, you’re not alone. Instead of previewing Mountain Lion at a press event or conference as Apple has done in the past, the company instead chose a more individualized approach, using private briefings to announce and share information about Mountain Lion to selected members of the press. John Gruber described his experience with this new approach at Daring Fireball as well as his first impressions of Mountain Lion.