Mountain Lion: Developer Reactions

This morning Apple surprised the developer community with the announcement and developer preview release of the next version of OS X, Mountain Lion. This OS will bring a large number of iOS-like features to the Mac and generally create more customer experience consistency between the two platforms. Here are my initial reactions to what this announcements means for developers:

  • Apple is crushing everyone else in terms of mindshare with developers of desktop apps. It would be unheard of for Microsoft to get onto a yearly release cycle with Windows. By being so aggressive with pushing out new features and demonstrating such a commitment to the platform it reassures me that I’m in the right line of work.
  • Apple is doing everything they can to push users onto the latest OS. While I don’t think pricing has been announced it wouldn’t surprise me if ML was a free upgrade (just like on iOS). You can even see this with today’s release of Messages Beta, which only runs on the absolute latest Lion update (10.7.3). Apple is pulling the bulk of customers forward, which makes developers’ lives so much easier.
  • Apple is seeking to leverage the size and skill of the iOS developer community to propel Mac OS. All their apps are starting to take on a look and feel familiar to iOS developers. Furthermore, it seems like system features are starting to debut in iOS and then are added to Mac OS. This means there is a large cadre of developers already familiar with these tools and frameworks who can start using them right away.
  • As the two platforms (iOS and Mac OS) grow more and more alike it has started to get me wondering if we will see the two unified in OS X 11. That is wild speculation at this point, but it seems increasingly likely that the two platforms are on a collision course.
  • GateKeeper is a big step forward in terms of building user trust and helping push Macs into the mainstream. I can see this feature as a big win for developers because it should help to make users more confident that installing software is safe and reliable. While a few developers of specialized tools might get grumpy about it. However, for most developers anything that helps make users more trusting of 3rd party software is a good thing.

I also discussed this on today’s episode of Developing Perspective.

David Smith