With the announcement of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and iOS 6, many noticed that the integration of the two that first become obvious in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion was being upped to a whole new level. iCloud has been much more deeply integrated throughout the operating systems, and OS X takes hints from iOS in many ways including notifications, Notification Center, and more. Below, I have outlined the 10 major points that I noticed while using the iOS 6 beta and the Mountain Lion Developer Preview (Preview 4, for those interested). Each contains a paragraph explaining the similarity, screenshots*, and a wrap up. Hope you enjoy! (For those curious, the OS X screenshots are from a MacBook 13″ 2008 Aluminum, and the iPad screenshots are from an iPad 3rd Gen WiFi+4GLTE on Verizon).
*Click on the images to view them in full size
1. iCloud General
Deeper iCloud integration is one of the major features of OS X 10.8 and iOS 6 both. They each feature better syncing between Macs and iOS devices, with it all feeling faster and more seamless than it did OS X 10.7 and iOS 5. Reminders, Notes, and Documents sync between each of the respective applications near instantly, with only one time set up needed for all the iCloud related services. It’s really a flawless service, only improving upon what is already in place.
All in all, iCloud has grown leaps and bounds in terms of seamless and quick integration. When you first boot up your Mac (after buying it new or after a fresh install of OS X Mountain Lion) you are greeted by a page in which you enter your iCloud information and choose what services to activate; very similar to when you first boot up an iOS device.
2. Notification Center
Notification Center and improved notifications are not necessarily something new in iOS 6, but they are new to OS X in Mountain Lion. With the new version of OS X, it stole a few key features that were introduced in iOS 5 last year, including Notification Center and an improved notification UI. There is now a more unified and streamlined notification UI, which is simple and elegant just as it’s iOS counterpart is. The notification rotates down in the upper right hand corner of the screen, and if you do not activate it the banner simply slides off screen to the right. To see notifications that you have waiting, you can access Notification Center either by clicking the new button located by Spotlight in the Menu bar, or if you have a trackpad you slide two fingers from the right edge of the trackpad, revealing the familiar notification interface. New in both iOS and OS X Notification Centers is a Tweet button, but that will be talked about in a later section.
So as you can see Apple is very much so trying to streamline the user experience on OS X when it comes to notifications. APIs are set up so that 3rd party developers may take advantage of the new notification system with relative ease. I like the new look and hope many applications adopt the feature.
One of my personal favorites of the new features is iMessage/Messages. iMessage came with iOS 5 last year, and now Apple has brought it to OS X with Mountain Lion. Here is the situation: You are on the road or out of the house for a long amount of time, and are using your phone very heavily. By the time you get home, your phone is very low on battery, but you are having an important conversation with someone via texting/iMessage (they are also an iPhone user). So when you get home, you plug your phone in, go over to your Mac, open up Messages and continue the conversation there, never losing your place or any of the messages because they all sync via iCloud! It’s a great service. I can be having a conversation on my iPad, set it down, log on my computer and the other person will never know I switched devices, it’s that seamless.
As I said before, this is one of my personal favorites out of the plethora of new features. It’s the one that I have found myself using the most, and I don’t expect that use to decrease any as the official releases of these two OS’s draw nearer. If you haven’t already, I would definitely take a look into starting to use iMessage. You won’t regret it.
Aside from iMessage, this is one of the fastest services that I have used in iCloud. While working on this article, I created a reminder using Siri on my iPad, and no less than 2 seconds later it had already shown up in my Mac’s Reminders application. The Reminders application is new in OS X Mountain Lion, and, as you would expect, it’s near identical to the iPad and iPhone cousins. It’s a very clean, simple, and straight forward application, as it is with most things Apple. Both have all the same features, making reminders based on a time or location, marking items complete of incomplete, and more. Whatever you do on one device is seamlessly and near instantly synced with the other. It’s really great, and I find myself using it more and more as I use Mountain Lion and iOS 6.
iCloud relies on being fast and seamless, and the Reminders applications/service lives up to that completely. Any reminders made on one devices are on the other almost right away, as if you had just added the reminder on both manually. It’s easy to use, simple, and elegant with it’s obvious Apple design. It’s a great service, and you should look into using it more often if you do not already.
To be honest, this is one of my least used features, only because I prefer Pages for my word processing. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. Notes has been around as long as iOS has, and it’s seen very few changes, one of the only major ones being when it got 2 new fonts to use as the default. In iOS 6, one of the only changes to it is Sharing capabilities, which actually started in iOS 5. This year though, with Mountain Lion, Apple brought iCloud to Notes. They built a Notes application for the Mac that mimics the appearance of it’s iOS siblings, and also only has the same 3 font options. However, now whenever you write a note within any of these 3 applications, it will sync across all of your devices flawlessly. It’s a tad more buggy than the previous two services, but the operating systems are both still in beta, so I expect it to get better. The only issues I have had is that they take a little longer than I would expect for them to sync, sometimes 10-15 minutes compared to the Reminders app’s 2-5 seconds. Nonetheless, it’s a great service for anyone that like to use the Notes application. Below is a screenshot of both the iPad and Mac’s Notes applications.
As the screenshots show, they are very similar looking applications. And the work the same too. All you do is type away, no real word processing options are included in either version (but that’s why it’s called Notes and not Pages). If all you do is take quick notes in something such as meetings or class, this application will be great for you. You will be able to take notes in a meeting with your iPhone or iPad and it will all be synced seamlessly with your Mac.
6. Game Center
Another one of the multiple applications that made the iOS to OS X jump is Game Center. Game Center, as many of you know, is Apple’s social gaming platform, where you can view your friends scores versus yours, see global scores, play multiplayer games, etc. Now with Mountain Lion, you can do all that via your Mac as well. In the WWDC Keynote, Apple did a demo of Game Center for OS X by showing how you could do multiplayer between not just iOS devices, but an iOS device and a Mac, or even two or more Macs now. Game Center is one of the lesser used services on my devices, but with this feature I may begin to use it more as hopefully more and more game developers integrate it into their applications.
Though I don’t use it as much as some may, I will say Game Center is a great service. When I have tried out its multiplayer features, it’s always very quick. You get a nice notification with a different Game Center specific jingle when friends request to play a game, and it’s very easy to jump right into the application they have requested you to play. I can definitely see myself, and others, using this feature as more developers take advantage of it.
When the new iPad shipped with only Dictation, I was disappointed. I wanted Siri. Nonetheless I tried out Dictation, and, well, loved it. I use at now all the time for things such as Messages, Google, Reminders, and more. And with the addition of full Siri support on the new iPad, I use it even more for miscellaneous things. In OS X 10.8, Apple has brought that same Dictation to the Mac. In System Preferences there is now a “Dictation” panel where you can turn it on and set a keyboard shortcut that will activate it whenever you are in a text field. For instance, mine (and the default) is double tapping the Function key. I find this feature very useful in helping me use a feature that I don’t use much now; Notes. When on my Mac, if I need to make note of something, I simply open Notes, activate Dictation, talk away, and then that note gets synced with my iPad if I ever need it there. It may be just an overlooked gimmick for some, but I definitely see many people using it once they give it a try.
Like I said before, this is one of my top features in Mountain Lion. Mostly because I love Speech-to-Text technologies. I just find them easy to use, simple, and usually extremely accurate. Now with Dictation, I don’t have to rely on 3rd parties for Speech-to-Text on my Mac, as Apple has built in a better, more elegant solution.
Social integration has become big among manufacturers of all kinds. Apple is no exception. Twitter and Facebook are both two of the largest Social Networks in the world, and Apple has gone ahead and built both in natively to iOS and OS X. In iOS, Twitter integration began last year with iOS 5, with Facebook being added on in iOS 6. Now, in Notification Center, there is both a “Tap to Tweet” and “Tap to Post” button for both the services, depending on which you have set up. In OS X, currently there is is only Twitter integration, but Apple’s site for Mountain Lion states that Facebook is “coming this fall.” It is the same as in iOS, you can share posts from Notification Center and more. In both systems, there are “Share” button spread throughout. When clicked there is a “Twitter” and “Facebook” button now (if applicable). You can share pictures, links, videos, and more. All quick, easy, and natively built in.
Though this feature may not be appealing to some, this is a feature that will most definitely get it’s fair use. Apple said in their WWDC Keynote that 80% of pictures using Twitter’s service were sent from iOS devices alone. Obviously Apple users like their social networks. I know I use these, especially the Facebook part of iOS, I can not wait for that to come to OS X.
In my opinion, Safari is one of the most overlooked applications sporting iCloud support. Apple doesn’t say too much about it (aside from it finally getting some spotlight in this year’s WWDC) and not many people have talked about it. I love it. Safari is my browser choice simply because of it’s iCloud support. I use bookmarks for everything, I stay very organized when it comes to bookmarking webpages for specific aspects of my life, whether it be my work or for personal use etc. With Safari and iCloud, I have all that information synced perfectly between all of my devices. I do most my work on my iMac, but when I’m on the go I will rotate between my iPad and MacBook, and having all my bookmarks synced is near essential for me. A new feature in iOS 6 and OS X 10.8 though, is one of my favorite additions so far: tab syncing. Yes, Chrome for Android and Google Chrome have this already, but I don’t use those as Chrome will not sync the bookmarks with iPad in a way that I like (seeing as there is no Chrome for iOS yet). I love the seamless experience it is with Safari and Mobile Safari, everything just simply works. As it should.
Safari has come a long way since iOS and OS X were first introduced. With both the OS X and iOS versions gaining many features over the course of their lifetimes, they are both becoming my browser of choice (on iOS it was a no-brainer) because of the great syncing ability of iCloud. It’s simply put, irreplaceable.
10. Other similarities (e.g. Launchpad, FaceTime, Spotlight, Automatic Downloads, App Store)
There are also many little features here and there that OS X and iOS have in common. A few of the most noticeable I have listed here: Launchpad (or the iOS home screen), FaceTime, Spotlight, Automatic Downloads, and the App Stores. Launchpad was introduced in OS X Lion, and it got improved in small ways but useful ways in OS X Mountain Lion. The first new part that caught my eye was the search at the top of it, allowing you to search through all of you applications very quickly. Launchpad resembles the iOS home screen quite obviously, even going as far as having the same icon for folders and the same background for them as well. This was one of the major points that made people start noticing the similarities between OS X and iOS last year.
FaceTime, as many of you remember, was introduced alongside the iPhone 4 two years ago. Last year, Apple made it available to OS X users via a beta on their website, and it is now built in to Lion and Mountain Lion. You can FaceTime between iOS devices, a Mac and an iOS device, or two Macs. All easy to use, simple, and good looking.
A feature not mentioned very often, as it rarely gets any major updates, is Spotlight. I personally use Spotlight on my iOS device and Mac all the time. It’s always there on the Mac and helps me find a file I can not locate quickly and then will open it right there. On iOS, I use it all the time for opening apps quickly, as I have many folders that are almost full and my lesser used apps can sometimes get lost among the rest. It’s a great feature that they share, but not many people give it the attention I believe it deserves.
A feature that is currently in iOS 5, but not people have talked about in OS X Mountain Lion, is Automatic Downloads. On iOS, if you download an application that is universal, it will automatically download that same application on your iPhone or iPod touch (if you have this feature enabled). Now in OS X Lion you can enable this feature, so that if you have multiple Macs your applications will be available on any of your machines.
That leads me to the next section, which is the App Store, the place where you download those apps to be synced across devices. The Mac App Store came along at the end of OS X Snow Leopard and became more and more integrated in Lion and Mountain Lion. In Mountain Lion, the integration goes to a whole new level, completely replacing the “Software Update” application with the App Store’s “Update” screen. Now, when you go to the Apple logo and choose Software Update it will open the App Store. Similar to how iOS has all of it’s updates (except for OTA software updates) through the App Store.
So as you can see, iOS and OS X are very similar in a large amount of ways. These 5 features I felt are some of the more overlooked, but still important enough to mention. I use Launchpad all the time on my Mac and love how it has folders like iOS. FaceTime I use to talk to friends that have iPhones, and Spotlight I use for all sorts of miscellaneous searching. The App Store and Automatic Downloads are a great feature. I love how when I buy an application on my iMac, it will be on my MacBook next time I open it up. And with iOS, I love being able to download a universal application and it be on all my iOS devices, no matter which I choose.
So there you have it. A 10 section comparison of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and iOS 6. Of course, there are many more similarities and features that I did not go over here, these are just the ones that I found myself using the most and therefore deemed more important to talk about as I believed many other users may be interested in them as well. What do you think? Excited for iOS 6 and OS X 10.8? Can’t wait to use these awesome new features? I know I can’t wait for the official release. Let us know in the comments what you think.