Since standing the world on its head with the release of the iPhone and iPad, Apple has been slowly moving towards integrating features from these portable computing and Smartphone devices with the company’s desktop computers.
With the imminent release of OS X Mountain Lion, that process has made a giant leap forward. The Mac, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch all work together via iCloud, and set up is automatic and effortless.
“Messages” is a good example of this new synergy. Just like iMessage in iOS, it lets you send unlimited messages to anyone on a Mac or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5. You can send photos, videos, documents, contacts and even messages to a group. And since all activity is being pushed to all devices, you can continue the conversation on any device at any time, without interruption.
Like Messages, Reminders lets you organize your life by creating as many to-do lists as you want and easily add to them. Set due dates and you’ll be alerted as a deadline approaches. Set a destination from your Mac, and your iPhone or iPad will remind you when you get there. “Notes” allows you to jot down thoughts as they happen. Add photos, images, and attachments. Tear off a virtual page and pin important notes to your desktop. When you create or edit a note on your Mac, it automatically updates on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and vice versa.
With all the enhanced communications, the “Notification Center“ makes it easy to stay on top of all the new alerts, be it from an email, a message, a software update, or a calendar alert. Notifications always appear in the same spot on the desktop and disappear quickly so they don’t clutter up the screen. Access to all the notifications is simply a gesture away, and their order can be customized to taste. Dictation to text is also available using the Mac’s built-in microphone. It’s simple and no set up is required—simply start talking. Punctuation is added by saying “stop” or “question mark” etc.
A share button throughout Mountain Lion makes sharing even easier right from the app you’re using. The OS is Facebook friendly and tweeting is also available directly from any app. For gamers, Game Center puts you in touch with others on a Mac, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch for competitive playing. Browsing with Safari has also been enhanced, allowing you to take up browsing on another device wherever you left off. These are just a few of the two hundred plus new features that add up to the best Mac experience yet.
However, the desktop enhancements aren’t the only game in town. At the WWDC Apple also announced the new operating system for its portable devices, iOS 6. “Maps” has been a recent topic of speculation and the new design from Apple has indeed surpassed expectations, including turn by turn navigation and real-time traffic updates. Interaction with Siri is more comprehensive-you can ask about sports scores and stats, in addition to where to eat and what movies to see (available only on the iPhone 4S and new iPad.)
Passbook brings your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more all to one place. You can scan your iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon, and if your gate changes after you’ve checked in for your flight, Passbook will alert you to make sure you’re not at the wrong terminal. Facetime is now available via cellular networks, so you can still talk face to face with a friend even when no Wi-FI hotspot is available.
When declining an incoming call, you can instantly reply with a text message or set a callback reminder. A Do Not Disturb function means you won’t be bothered by anyone, except specified can’t-miss contacts. Guided Access helps students with disabilities such as autism remain on task and focused on content. VoiceOver, the screen reader for blind and low-vision users, is now integrated with Maps, AssistiveTouch, and Zoom. Mail and browsing have both been improved.
These are just some of the many feature enhancements that have been announced to the Apple computing and Smartphone experience. No more tedious syncing of various devices, and more importantly when you have learned one system, the others become immediately intuitive. The operating systems are becoming more and more invisible, fading to the background while bringing enjoyment and productivity to new levels.