Apple has reportedly been actively testing the next version of its Mac operating system, OS X 10.9, and it appears that Apple's next "big cat" aims to continue the recent trend of tying in key features from the popular iOS mobile platform.
On Monday, 9 to 5 Mac's Mark Gurman, citing "reliable sources," said OS X 10.9 will introduce two of Apple's most widely used features from iOS, including its new self-branded Maps application, as well as Siri, the company's virtual personal assistant that first debuted on the iPhone 4S in late 2011.
Since Maps debuted with iOS 6 on Sept. 19, Apple has tried numerous times to rectify its unfortunate decision to cut out Google Maps for its own half-baked app. CEO Tim Cook wrote an apology letter at the beginning of October, and the company clearly intends to steer iOS back on track, a decision marked by the pre-Halloween departure of iOS chief Scott Forstall and the inauguration of Eddy Cue to replace him as the head of the Maps team.
Now, with Cue leading the Maps team, as well as the Siri team -- more on that later -- Apple is reportedly working around the clock to fix, tweak, remove and add features from its Maps app -- hopefully before Google finishes its own native Maps app and submits it to the App Store.
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As it stands on the Mac, Maps integration may simply be a framework for developers to contribute their own work on mapping, but it's possible Apple may be building a standalone Maps app on the Mac, similar to how Google Earth is its own app outside of the Web.
9 to 5 Mac was not able to confirm whether or not Maps will be its own application or simply a framework for developers in OS X 10.9.
Even though Maps is still admittedly imperfect, Mac users would certainly welcome Siri, the friendly AI that can dictate your voice to send texts and emails, set reminders and timers, play music and movies, or answer any number of context-sensitive questions about sports, movies and nearby businesses and restaurants.
But Siri fans shouldn't celebrate just yet, as it's still uncertain whether or not Siri on OS X 10.9 will be supported by all Mac computers.
Siri has always needed hardware that can actually support all its various functions, which is why even though it baked into iOS 5, the feature only worked on the iPhone 4S and every iOS device that came after it; unfortunately, that left out the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 owners. This might occur again if Apple releases Mac OS X 10.9 with Siri.
Apple would not be setting precedent if Siri was only compatible with some Macs: AirPlay Mirroring, which was one of the best features in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, was only supported by Mac computers built in 2011 or later, which left out anyone with a computer more than a year old at the time. Apple explains that AirPlay Mirroring in OS X Mountain Lion requires "the hardware video encoding capabilities of second- and third-generation Intel Core processors." Even in iOS 6, despite the platform's general compatibility with older iPhones and iPads, features like Flyover and turn-by-turn navigation in iOS 6 Maps don't work in any iPhone or iPad built before 2011.
More About Mac OS X 10.9
We're not sure which big cat Apple plans to name this new OS X build after, but we do know that Apple's been working on this platform for some time now: According to 9 to 5 Mac, Apple began developing OS X 10.9 simultaneously with OS X 10.8, which similarly brought over iOS favorites onto the Mac like Notification Center, Notes, Reminders, document synching in iCloud, and Dictation.
On Nov. 6, a number of Mac computers all running OS X 10.9 were found visiting 9to5Mac.com, with all of those computers tagged with IP addresses from California's Bay area, the same area where Apple's headquarters is located.
For the past two years, Apple has previewed its new Mac OS in February and March but released the platforms in July via its Mac App Store. We fully expect Apple to follow this same release schedule, which means we ought to see more news about Mac OS X 10.9 in the coming months.