Apple's had huge success in China lately, most particularly with the iPhone. With Mountain Lion, the company is trying to improve support for those who write in Chinese as well as recognizing that most of the popular sites that Apple integrates with OS X aren't actually available within China.
On the text-input side, Mountain Lion will offer better suggestions and corrections via a dynamically updated dictionary, something an Apple representative told me was because Chinese word usages are evolving rapidly. Apparently English words are often inserted in Chinese text, so Mountain Lion allows the mixing of Pinyin and English without switching between keyboard layouts. Apple says Mountain Lion also doubles the number of characters recognized by trackpad-based handwriting recognition.
On the Internet services side, Mountain Lion offers support for Chinese alternatives to several worldwide services. Search-engine Baidu is now an option in Safari. Chinese microblogging service Sina weibo is supported in Share Sheets, just as Twitter is. In addition to Vimeo and Flickr, Mountain Lion will support sharing to Chinese video-sharing sites Youku and Tudou. And Mail, Contacts, and Calendar syncing will be supported to Chinese service providers QQ, 126, and 163.
Just the beginning
Of course, this is only the first disclosure by Apple about what's in Mountain Lion. There are undoubtedly dozens, if not hundreds, of minor tweaks and small new features being added. And there might even be big ones as yet undisclosed—after all, we're four to seven months away from Mountain Lion's arrival.
If you're a Mac user, the best news about Mountain Lion is this: Apple doesn't seem to be reducing OS X's development cycle and putting it in maintenance mode. Instead, OS X releases seem to be accelerating, perhaps so that the annual release cycles of iOS and Mac OS X can feed off one another.
It's also clear that with both Lion releases, Apple is dead serious about making Mac OS X and iOS as synced up as they possibly can be, both in terms of interface and—thanks to iCloud—data. Mac users who aren't fans of iOS might complain, but these days Apple sells many times more iOS devices than Macs in any given quarter. Having all of Apple's products bear a family resemblance to one another can only help.
Jason Snell is Macworld's editorial director.
This story, "Hands on with Apple's new OS X: Mountain Lion" was originally published by Macworld.