Update (9:25 a.m. EST) Mountain lion is now available.
Update (4:44 p.m. EST) On its quarterly earnings call, Apple has confirmed that Mountain Lion will be released Wednesday.
“We’re thrilled with record sales of 17 million iPads in the June quarter,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We’ve also just updated the entire MacBook line, will release Mountain Lion tomorrow and will be launching iOS 6 this Fall. We are also really looking forward to the amazing new products we’ve got in the pipeline.”
Original post follows:
When Apple releases its quarterly earnings report at the end of the business day Tuesday, Mac users can also anticipate the official release of the upgraded operating system, dubbed Mountain Lion.
Apple previewed Mountain Lion--or OS X version 10.8--at its World Wide Developers Conference in June, but declined to give it an official release date.
Still, if history is precedent (and with Apple's software and hardware release track record, it usually is), fans of the Cupertino-based tech giant can be reasonably certain that Mountain Lion will be made available Wednesday. According to 9to5mac, Apple store employees have been told to plan for overnight overtime Tuesday night, further ramping up excitement.
Last year's OS X version 10.7, known as Lion, was also released the day following the July earnings report.
So what can Macbook, iMac, and Mac Mini users expect for their $19.99?
Primarily, its overall interface will start to look a lot more like iOS, the mobile software running on Apple's iPhones, iPads and iPods. More storage and computing will take place in the cloud, allowing for syncing between multiple devices--in other words, you'll be able to leave what you're doing on your laptop at home, and pick up your activity on the road with your iPhone.
Top new or updated features in Mountain Lion
iCloud integration - Emails, contacts, reminders and notes will be synced seamlessly from Mac to any iOS mobile device. - Personal settings will sync too. - Documents will update across all devices.
Sharing integration - Twitter and Facebook integration will be built into apps (including Safari, iPhoto and documents) - Facebook's in-app support will launch in the fall
Messages - Will replace iChat - Send rich media messages between any Mac devices with Messages or iMessage installed - Continue conversations from any of your devices
Notification center - Small bubble will slide in with notifications for emails, messages, calendar events, reminders, software updates, Twitter and third-party apps - Notifications pop up in the corner and then disappear, like they do on iOS - Swipe to open the notification center on the side of the display - Update Facebook from notification center
Safari - Single smart field for search and addresses - Pinch to view multiple tabs, swipe to switch between - iCloud syncs Safari tabs across devices
Dictation - In any text field - Learns voice characteristics and accent, so it improves the more it's used
Airplay mirroring - Stream whatever is on your Mac to Apple TV, wirelessly
Game center - Not just on iOS, games can be played between Macs or mobile devices
Enhanced security - Automatic daily checks for security upgrades, with automatic installation, to combat rising malware threats (even to the previously impenetrable Mac OS) - Gatekeeper will check app downloads for malicious software
Powernap - Mac will automatically check for updates in Mail, Calendar and more, even when the computer is asleep
Who can upgrade
Your computer is upgrade-ready If you're running OS X Snow Leopard (v10.6) or Lion (v10.7), on one of these devices: - MacBook (late 2008 aluminum or newer) - MacBook Pro (mid-2007 or newer) - MacBook Air (late 2008 or newer) - iMac (mid-2007 or newer) - Mac Mini (early 2009 or newer) - Mac Pro (early 2008 or newer) - Xserve (early 2009)
How to get it
Once Apple makes Mountain Lion available, it will show up in the Mac App Store, which is part of all versions of Lion and up-to-date versions of Snow Leopard, for download.
The download will be large, so don't be surprised if it takes a while over broadband. You can also get help downloading at any Apple store.
Just bought a new Mac?
When Apple released its upgraded line of desktops and laptops in June, those computers shipped with the soon-to-be-outdated OS X v.10.7, or Lion.
Mindful of this, Apple also announced that any new Macs purchased between June 11 and the Mountain Lion release will have 30 days to upgrade to Mountain Lion for free, using this web page.
If Mountain Lion becomes available Wednesday, new Mac owners will have until approximately August 23 to update their operating system without paying the $19.99.
Any new Macs shipped after Mountain Lion is released will presumably include the new software.