OS X Mountain Lion Could Make Many Popular Third-Party Apps Completely Obsolete


Goodbye Growl, hello Notifications
Goodbye Growl, hello Notifications

Apple’s new version of OS X, 10.8 Mountain Lion, bakes in a lot of new features that may make existing third-party apps obsolete. Notification Center, Reminders, Messages and Twitter all step on the toes of independent developers. And worst of all, these apps come from some of the most popular categories in the App Store.

Notification Center

Notifications were one of the biggest features of iOS5, and now they are coming back to the Mac. Swipe to the left on your Mac’s trackpad and the familiar linen sheet will sweep in from the right side of the screen showing new Twitter messages, emails, FaceTime calls, App Store updates and more. If you use notifications on iOS, it will be immediately familiar.

And if you use Growl on your Mac, it will also be recognizable. Growl is an open-source notification framework which developers can choose to support, sending notification to one central hub.

In this case, though, the Growl developers are unlikely to be too sore. They actually started the project as a way to force Apple to make its own version. Looks like they finally succeeded.

Developer Annoyance Rating: Medium

Messages combines IM, file sharing and FaceTime


Messages is the long-awaited Mac client for making FaceTime calls, sending photos, videos, documents and even signing in to your existing IM accounts (AIM, Jabber, Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger are all supported). It is also, unlike any other part of Mountain Lion, available to the public from today.

Messages clearly steps on the toes of several other apps. Nobody will lament the passing of the execrable Yahoo and AIM clients, but there seems little point in using the excellent Adium IM app any more. Adium is the most popular OS X multi-service IM client right now, but again it is open-source and nobody will actually be losing a job if it withers away.

Skype is another matter. Adding FaceTime to the Mac in a proper way (the previous FaceTime beta was rather poor) suddenly ties together all those FaceTime-capable iOS apps. Skype is so entrenched that it probably isn’t going away anytime soon, but if anyone can kill its bloated corpus, Apple can.

Developer Annoyance Rating: Medium


A quick count reveals roughly one gazillion To-Do and reminder apps in the App Store. But who will buy them now that Reminders is built in? People like me will keep using apps like OmniFocus because we need the extra power, but most people will stick with the simplest option.

And simple it is: You make lists, and set reminders. But the killer feature is that it syncs with iCloud, so all your devices carry the exact same up-to-date to-do list.

Developer Annoyance Rating: High

Twitter integration could actually benefit third-oarty developers


Mountain Lion’s Twitter integration is almost exactly the same as that in iOS. The new “Share Anywhere” sheet (the familiar iOS arrow-and-box) contains an option to Tweet pretty much anything you like. Select text, share a photo or a web page, all right from the app you’re in.

Reading Tweets is a different matter, though. While Notification Center will pop up your mentions and direct messages, you’ll still need a Twitter client to read your timeline. In fact, Twitter integration might just boost sales of standalone Twitter clients.

Developer Annoyance Rating: Very low

Apple has a history of adding features that used to be paid applications. You know the Command-Tab app-switcher you use hundreds of times a day? That was an app called LiteSwitch X. The Dashboard? Konfabulator. It isn’t the first time Apple has been “inspired” by others, and it won’t be the last.

  • liamgreen

    I can’t wait for the release. 

  • VGISoftware

    This seems to be Apple’s logical next step in further integrating of all of its devices, both iOS and OS X. I “stepped into” Lion via, first, the Magic Trackpad, which I immediately fell in love with (without having first used the trackpad on a laptop), and into Lion which responded nicely to the multi-touch gestures made possible by the trackpad.

    Now, we’ll have that much more consistency in the respective Apple apps.

    This can only enhance the halo effects across Apple products, as well.

    Beautiful strategy!

  • FriarNurgle

    Agreed. It would still be nice if Apple would give a shout out or even buy out to some of the developers of the apps they are incorporating.

  • VGISoftware

    I’m a registered developer, myself, still in my learning stages.

    The way I see it, Apple doesn’t really owe us anything beyond the significant opportunities is already provides (over $3B in payouts since the inception of 3rd-party SDK!).

    As long as there are no infringement issues, Apple has every right to innovate as it sees fit–to the benefit of us all. Only the implementations are copyrightable or patentable–not the ideas–which works in BOTH directions!

    They’ve left the creative door wide open for us to come up with ever better apps!

  • Marty Holthaus

    What about Evernote? Now that “Notes” is going to be separate from Mail, I am starting to think, “Hmmm… maybe I should start saving all of my new notes to… Notes – not Evernote!” And it is a little frustrating that I have to do this but simplicity and iCloud integration makes me think it would be the best route. And, as always, I appreciate the consistency between “native” Apple apps that are built into the OS. They always seem to have the least distractions and the most utility – and they work just like you would expect them to because they are so tied to the OS. 

  • Dennis Mattinson

    Makes me even more glad I didn’t upgrade to Lion now that I will most likely need to pay to upgrade to Mountain Lion

  • Jordan Clay

     The thing is, is that most of the developers don’t have any claim to their ideas.  Most of those programs  existed before they were on the Mac.  Take a look at what people are doing with Linux and then Mac devs are “ripping off.”  

    I’m not saying it is good or bad…it is just the way it is….it is really hard to come up with an original idea anymore

  • Jordan Clay

     You are missing out…but there is a chance that you may have to upgrade to Lion before Mtn Lion.  Remember the Leopard/Snow Leopard jump?  The EULA said you had to be on leopard to upgrade.   It was possible, but a violation.  Since this will be disseminated from the Mac App Store it will be tougher to get around that policy.

  • erickmendonca

    Yes, it is very cheap. Waiting til next release to “make my money worth more” does not make sense to me.
    But Microsoft released Windows versions on a 3 to 4 years based intervals, not 1 year.

  • machei

  • Marty Holthaus

    Point taken. And I am not sure I could live without the folder structure that Evernote has. We’ll see for me.

  • Jayson Crandall

    Notes where placed with mail because it used imap as its sync platform and reminders with iCal because of WebDAV. Both where really just clever little hacks to repurpose existing tech to do a new job and apple pulled it off rather well but iCloud now provides a better platform for all.

  • joewaylo

    Skype has two advantages though over Messages and FaceTime. 3G. FaceTime is still restricted to WiFi due to the video calling usage of a few kilobytes per minute between 2.0-7.0 MBPS.

  • baleara

    Messages is available to the public from today? Am I missing it in the App Store or was it not added yet?

  • Nutz320

     What about Notational Velocity?