On top of all the new hardware hitting today during Apple's WWDC keynote, we can't forget about the software that runs it all. While people are probably more interested in iOS 6, the update to the next iteration of OS X - Mountain Lion - should have Mac users equally excited.
During the keynote, Craig Federighi took the stage to talk up Mountain Lion. He prefaced the presentation to talk up sales numbers. There are now 66 million Mac users around the world with Lion selling through 26 million copies. He's quick to point out that it took Windows 7 27 months to sell that many.
As for the new features, Federighi says that there are over 200. That might take a while to go over in depth so he will just talk about eight of the biggest features hitting the platform. First up is iCloud which has 125 million registered users. Mountain Lion has built-in support that works with three of the most used applications - Messages, Reminders and Notes. This will allow users to share their content across all their iDevices through the cloud.
If you were wanting documents as well, worry not. Apple announced that document-based apps will be coming to iCloud shortly. They also announced the availability of an SDK so developers can creating apps that work with iCloud.
Federighi provided a demo on stage with one of the new MacBook Pros. Reminders can be controlled through gestures and it also features location-based Reminders. He feels that iCloud will really benefit Messages though. If a message is sent to your phone, you can just respond to it on your Mac.
As for the previously mentioned documents, the demo showed some changes being made to a document on the iPhone with the changes showing up in the document on the MacBook Pro about five seconds later. As for notifications, the demonstration showed how it's now easy to use gestures to dismiss notifications and warnings that Mountain Lion sends you.
A big feature coming to Mountain Lion is dictation. Apple says that it will work with pretty much everything from Facebook to third-party applications like Word. It's important to note that this is not Siri, but rather just plain dictation. While still a great addition, it's not the Siri that many were probably hoping for.
Next up, Federighi talks up the new Safari. He claims it's the "fastest on the planet." It uses iCloud to sync your browsing history and bookmarks across all your devices. You can tweet and use other sharing options straight from the browser. It also features a unified search field ala Chrome.
Complimenting the new Safari is the Tab View. This allows users to see all the tabs they have and switch between Web sites on the fly. Using multi-touch zooming, you can zoom out to the tab view to select a new page. These tabs will be shared across multiple device via iCloud as well.
Previously, it was mentioned that you could use Twitter straight from Safari. It's also integrated into the Notification Center. It will update each time you're sent a DM or mentioned in Tweet. Federighi also showed off the ability to use the voice dictation to send Tweets.
A new feature coming to Mountain Lion is called Power Nap. It essentially allows the new MacBook Pro to update and sync itself when it's offline. It will also backup itself while it's charging. It will be compatible with second gen MacBook Airs and the new MacBook Pro.
Another nice feature coming to Mountain Lion is AirPlay Mirroring. Instead of having to use an HDMI cable to connect to your television, you can now just stream 1080p content from the MacBook to a TV wirelessly. It also supports AirPlay-enabled stereo systems and speakers.
A major features that iOS has enjoyed for years is also finally coming to Mac OS X. GameCenter will be available for Mac-to-Mac gaming as well as cross-platform play. This opens up game developers to create interactions between iOS devices and the Mac OS X platform. Players will also be able to send GameCenter over AirPlay.
Apple also used the event to announce some specific features for the international markets. It's no secret that Apple is popular in China and Federighi feels that the updates to Mountain Lion will make Macs even more popular in China. Some of these include new input methods, new dictionaries, new fonts and support for popular Chinese social networks like Baidu.
Finally, Mountain Lion will be available in July for the super low price of $19.99. It will upgrade anything from Snow Leopard onward. You can also upgrade all your Macs with just one copy. Unfortunately, Mountain Lion will not be shipping with the new MacBook Pros. Fortunately, those who buy a new MacBook Pro now get a free copy of Mountain Lion when it releases.
That's all Apple had to share today about the updates coming to Mountain Lion. It looks to be a major upgrade from Lion and Apple fans are sure to be already placing their pre-orders. As a Windows guy, I'm even tempted by the new features coming to Mountain Lion. That should speak volumes about the good work they're doing.[Lead image: Engadget]