Apple Announces OS X Mountain Lion

Shocking just about everyone this morning, Apple has revealed the latest version of Mac OS X, Mountain Lion. Dropping the vague release cycle of yore, OS X now falls under a yearly update schedule akin to iOS, with Mountain Lion due for release this summer.

Mountain Lion boasts deep iCloud integration, intriguing 'Gatekeeper' functionality, iMessage support, and the incorporation of a handful of iOS apps. Evidently, though, early previewers are still sifting through the Developer Preview in search of new features. For a full rundown, check out Apple's Mountain Lion features page.

Regarding the overarching nature of the changes, John Gruber writes:

The recurring theme: Apple is fighting against cruft — inconsistencies and oddities that have accumulated over the years, which made sense at one point but no longer — like managing to-dos in iCal (because CalDAV was being used to sync them to a server) or notes in Mail (because IMAP was the syncing back-end). The changes and additions in Mountain Lion are in a consistent vein: making things simpler and more obvious, closer to how things should be rather than simply how they always have been.

Many have been quick to note that Mountain Lion marks an interesting convergence of iOS and OS X. Whether you agree or not, Apple's banner headline - "Inspired by iPad. Re-imagined for Mac." - is telling.

Jim DalrympleJohn GruberMacworld, and The Verge all have fantastic previews of the forthcoming Developer Preview.

iChat's replacement, Messages, is available as a public beta today, and the Mountain Lion Developer Preview is available exclusively to registered Apple developers today as well.