Apple releases Mountain Lion operating system to developers
The final version of Apple’s latest operating system, Mac OS X Mountain Lion, has been released to developers.
The so-called ‘Gold Master’ version of the software is almost identical to the version that will be released to the public at the end of July. Apple hasn’t released a precise date for the upgrade, which will cost $19.99, but the release means it needs only very minor refinements before it can be released to Apple’s Mac App Store.
Apple has an earnings call scheduled for July 24, and in previous years it has released the software the day after the financial announcement.
Mountain Lion is a particularly highly anticipated release because it brings more than 200 new features, many of which will integrate Macs more tightly with the cloud and iDevices such as the iPad and iPhone. It will, for instance, include Twitter and iMessages.
Another major new feature is Gatekeeper, which lets you control the apps that run on your Mac. With Gatekeeper turned on, your Mac will run only apps downloaded from the Mac App Store or those from elsewhere that have "a unique Developer ID from Apple". For added security, users can choose to run only apps from the Mac App Store.
The new security features clearly nudge users towards the Mac App Store - and towards a more controlled application environment, similar to the iTunes App Store. However, Gatekeeper is optional, so users who prefer to run whatever apps they like can continue to do so.
As with iOS, Twitter has been integrated throughout Mountain Lion to make it easier to share links, photos and other content. Sharing to Flickr and Vimeo is also possible from several places within the new version of the OS but Facebook and YouTube remain notable omissions.
Mountain Lion extends the integration of iCloud, Apple's cloud storage service, further into OS X. When users start up a Mountain Lion computer for the first time they will have the option to sign in with their Apple ID and automatically set up iCloud, FaceTime, the iTunes Store and the Mac App Store.
In a statement, Apple said: "The new iCloud Documents pushes any changes to all your devices so documents are always up to date, and a new API helps developers make document-based apps work with iCloud."