The speculation is based on a few whispers cited by 9to5Mac, which said that the Cupertino tech giant has planned overnight updates for its stores both in the U.S. and overseas for July 24. Those updates could possibly mean the posting of marketing information and OS installations of OS X Mountain Lion to store computers, MacRumors reported.
According to 9to5Mac, the overnights would be smaller as the Mountain Lion isn't being launched alongside hardware this year and, therefore, there is less setup required. One employee also informed that overnight updates would be just a few guys running around with the master image installing it on every Mac.
There's yet another reason why next week's launch of the OS X Mountain Lion could be likely. Last year, Apple announced its Q3 2011 earnings on July 19 and announced the July 20 release date for the OS X Lion. The company is expected to follow the same pattern this year too as it has already announced that it would release its Q3 2012 results on July 24.
As 9to5Mac noted, there is already under two weeks left in July, and with last year's launch pattern prime for repetition (launch announcement during the upcoming earnings call), we'd say a July 25th launch is increasingly likely.
The OS X Mountain Lion 10.8 is a $19.99 upgrade that will be available on the Mac App Store on launch day. Last week, Apple released the Gold Master seed of OS X Mountain Lion (build number is 12A269) for developers, a 4.34 GB Mac App Store download.
OS X Mountain Lion 10.8: Key Features
According to Apple, Mountain Lion is an amalgamation of many key features from iOS and OS X. It's a move inspired by iPad, suggesting that the Mac just keeps getting better and better.
The company claimed that the ninth major release of the desktop operating system brings popular apps and features from the iPad to the Mac and accelerates the pace of OS X innovation. This essentially sums up what users' expectations from the OS can be: iCloud integration, Game Center, Messages, Reminders, Notes, Notifications Center, Twitter integration and many more.
Here are the key ones:
iCloud: Mountain Lion is the first OS X release built with the iCloud in mind. Apple claimed that over 100 million users have iCloud accounts and Mountain Lion makes it easier to set up iCloud and access documents across devices. Users just need to sign in once with their Apple ID and iCloud automatically sets up photos, contacts, mail, calendar, messages, FaceTime and Find My Mac. Any changes to an item on Mac will appear on other iOS devices like iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Messages: The Messages app in the Mountain Lion replaces iChat, allowing users to send unlimited messages, high-quality photos and videos directly from one Mac to another Mac or iOS device running iOS 5. Users' messages are always in sync, so they can start a conversation on their iPad and continue it on a Mac. Messages will continue to support AIM, Jabber, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk.
Reminders: If you have multiple things to do, you can list them in Reminders. You can make as many lists as you need and add to them further. If you set due dates, you'll get alerts as deadlines approach. There is more to it - thanks to iCloud, your reminders will be up to date on Mac, iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Notes: Notes helps you create and track your to-dos across all your devices, similarly to Reminders. It's a notes-taking app that works with iCloud, so upon creating or editing a note on Mac, it will automatically update on other connected devices.
Notification Center: The notification system on Android devices has many fans, and so does its blatant rip-off on the iOS 5. Many have been waiting for this feature to appear on desktop computers, and Mountain Lion brings it home. A swipe to the left and you get access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, system updates and third party apps.
Share Sheets: Mountain Lion built-in apps come with the Share button, making it easier to share to links, photos and videos directly from Apple and third party apps. Users can send links to Twitter from Safari, share links via Mail, upload photos to Flickr and send videos to Vimeo.
Twitter: Twitter is integrated throughout Mountain Lion so you can sign on once and tweet directly from Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview and third party apps. Users need to sign in once and don't have to leave the app.
Game Center: According to Apple, Game Center helps personalize your Mac gaming experience. After signing in with an Apple ID, users can start playing games against friends on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. There are also options for finding new games and enjoy multiplayer gaming.
AirPlay Mirroring: Mountain Lion features AirPlay Mirroring, an easy way to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what's on a Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.
Gatekeeper: Gatekeeper is a new security feature that gives users control over which apps can be downloaded and installed on their Mac. Users can choose to install apps from any source. They can also use the safer default setting to install apps from the Mac App Store, along with apps from developers that have a unique Developer ID from Apple.