Apple extends iMessage, Game Center from iOS to Mac
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) unveiled the forthcoming Mac OS X Mountain Lion operating system revamp, integrating a series of features already familiar to iPhone and iPad users to enable messaging and social gaming interactions between the mobile and desktop platforms.
Mountain Lion (a.k.a. OS X 10.8) touts more than 100 new features in all. Chief among the popular iOS mobile operating system capabilities coming to the platform is iMessage, which replaces Apple's iChat. First introduced with iOS 5, iMessage enables consumers send free text messages, photos and videos among all iOS devices, and it will now allow messaging between mobile products and the desktop, further calling into question the longevity of premium SMS services. According to Apple, consumers have already registered more than 100 million iMessage accounts, sending 26 billion messages since the iPhone 4 launched in October 2011.
Mountain Lion also heralds the arrival of Game Center, the multiplayer gaming network launched for iOS in the autumn of 2010. Game Center-enabled titles allow players to compete against friends, send friend requests, vie for achievements and organize online multiplayer games. Apple states there are now more than 20,000 iOS titles boasting Game Center support, with more than 100 million registered users across the network.
Also new in Mountain Lion: Twitter integration. Apple's iOS 5 first brought integration with the microblogging platform, enabling users to sign in once and then tweet directly from all Twitter-enabled apps--among them Photos, Camera, Safari, YouTube and Maps--with a single tap. Twitter user signups increased 3x in the week after iOS 5 rolled out last October.
Apple will launch Mac OS X Mountain Lion in late summer 2012, roughly a year after rolling out OS X Lion. The update is the first built for the company's iCloud digital media storage platform, which promises easier application setup and integration across devices.
Apple's iOS accounts for 29.6 percent of the U.S. smartphone market according to data published earlier this month by digital research firm comScore. The iOS platform trails only Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android at 47.3 percent.
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