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Apple Releases OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview

Apple has continued its big cat naming convention and released the developer preview of its OS X Mountain Lion operating system. This ninth release of the OS introduces new features in the shape of Apple-branded functions including Messages, Notes, Reminders, and Game Center, as well as Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, and AirPlay Mirroring.

NOTE: Mountain Lion is the first OS X release built with iCloud integration in mind — Apple's cloud service first announced in June 2011 for data storage and download to multiple OS X and iOS devices.

The developer preview of Mountain Lion also introduces Gatekeeper, a security feature that is said to provide complete control over what user apps are installed at any one time. Mac users will be able to upgrade to Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

The developer preview of Mountain Lion also features the new Messages app, which replaces iChat and allows users to send unlimited messages, high-quality photos, and videos directly from one Mac to another Mac or iOS device. Messages will continue to support AIM, Jabber, Yahoo! Messenger, and Google Talk.

The new release is described as including "hundreds" of new APIs to give developers access to what Apple calls new "core technologies and enhanced features" within OS X. The Game Kit APIs tap into the same services as Game Center on iOS, making it possible to create multiplayer games that work across Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

According to Apple's official release statement, "A new graphics infrastructure underpins OpenGL and OpenCL and implements GLKit, first introduced in iOS 5, to make it easier to create OpenGL apps. Using Core Animation in Cocoa apps is easier than ever, and new video APIs deliver modern 64-bit replacements for low-level QuickTime APIs. Enhanced Multi-Touch APIs give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the system-wide lookup gesture. Kernel ASLR improves security through enhanced mitigation against buffer overflow attacks."

Mountain Lion also introduces AirPlay Mirroring, a technology designed to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what's on a Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.

The company says that more than 100 million users have iCloud accounts and the new iCloud Documents pushes any changes to all devices so documents are always up to date — plus, a new API helps developers make document-based apps work with iCloud.

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