What’s Hot: Big Cats

This was the week Apple publicly followed up in on its announcement that iCloud would be pivotal throughout the next decade. The release of Mountain Lion reaffirming their intention to make the user experience more consistent across every device, with iCloud as the centre. James Cull’s piece on the convergence of iOS and OS X outlines the changes announced so far, and inspired a lively debate into whether this is really a step forwards!

This is the fourth episode in a feature series called ‘What’s Hot’ that will look to give you something interesting to chew on at the end of the week. We’ll look at any great new Mac apps (including editor and reader favourites), interesting pieces of news, and other miscellaneous artifacts…

This week has been considerably more eventful than last week, with a surprise announcement that was unique in its timing and, almost as interestingly, its delivery. Before we dive in it’s more than worth reading James’ post on the announcement of Mountain Lion, and don’t skimp on the comments – the debate following the announcement is fascinating in itself!

Five Things

1. Mountain Lion

It sure feels soon for another Big Cat. But there it is, Apple is already readying the next version of OS X for testing and moving them in to a clear one-year product cycle. This is a pretty contentious in itself, raising questions over the quality and substance of future updates.

The bigger question, however, is over the general direction of OS X. I’m all for cohesion, but there’s little love for the idea of an iOS-style interface for the Mac. I think it’s very unlikely Apple will go too far in that direction, but it’s unnerving to think they might.

Jeremy made a great comment on James’ article that sums up the way we’re hoping it goes;

I don’t mind Apple “blending” iOS with OS X at all. There is ONE requirement though. Do NOT take away OS X features to make it fit into iOS. I don’t want my Mac to become a big iPad. I do, however, like having iOS features added to OS X.

The thing I’m really excited about with this release is the idea that everything will work effortlessly with iCloud. I can’t wait until my Mac is seamlessly integrated with iCloud the way that my iPhone and iPad are, right now it feels like it’s lagging behind, trying to keep up with the features that iOS devices take for granted. It shouldn’t have to be that way around, and Apple appears to be fixing that.

2. A New Way to Announce

One of the interesting things about the announcement of Mountain Lion was the nature of the release. No fanfare, no live text feeds, no on-stage demonstrations, just a selection of journalists given a presentation in a 1-to-1 setting. Jon Gruber’s piece on the experience is worth a read, if only because he seems more intrigued by the nature of the presentation than by the content.

I do understand why Apple has gone in this direction, but it’s still pretty fascinating. Mountain Lion will get full coverage at WWDC, and Apple is reluctant to bring on a case of event-overload ahead of their pivotal iPad announcement in March. What do you think about their decision to present Mountain Lion to journalists rather than hold a stage event?

3. Messages

We’ve had a day or so to try out the new Messages app that Scott took a look at on Friday, what’s the verdict?

It’s great to have Apple release Messages into the wild in order to satiate people’s ravenous appetites, but is it anything more than a moderately useful feature that feels like a given?

There are some distinctly useful ways to use Messages on your Mac, quickly sharing photos being one of them, but really we’re just happy to have all of our chats (and video calls) in one place.

The Messages for Mac interface is, not surprisingly, almost identical to that of the iPad.

4. 10 Mac Apps That Your Kids Can Use

This roundup post is the first part of a three-part series of roundups dedicated to finding apps for your home and family life. We all know how useful an iPad or iPhone is for amusing small people, but there also are some great Mac apps available to occupy their attention. If you have kids you should already be there!

5. App Prices Are on the Rise

I loved reading this piece by Matt, mostly because it exemplifies my feelings about paying for apps. Do you find you have a strong paying bias?

I find the direction of the App Store to be seriously encouraging for the state of software on the Mac, it’s becoming a more mature market. I’m willing to pay for quality software, but there needs to be a good balance. It’ll be interesting to see where the average price of an app settles in a year or so.

Your Thoughts

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts – simply post a comment below! Are you a developer for OS X, are you excited or frustrated at the prospect of having yearly updates to contend with?

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