Woah. Apple’s giving developers a preview of the next version of Mac OS X today called Mountain Lion. The software, due out this summer, continues the trend of bringing over functionality from iOS to Mac OS X. If you take a deep look, you will find new features specifically designed to support Chinese users.
Alright, if you are a Chinese Mac user, the first thing you should check out is the specific improvements for users in China. With Mountain Lion, Apple is trying to improve support for those who write in Chinese as well as recognizing that most of the popular web services that Apple integrates with Mountain Lion aren’t actually available within China, due to the country’s internet censorship.
Two parts. First, on the text-input side, Mountain Lion will offer better suggestions and corrections, since Chinese word usages are evolving rapidly. For Chinese users who have a habit of inserting English words in Chinese text, Mountain Lion allows the mixing of Pinyin and English without switching between keyboard layouts. What’s more, Mountain Lion also doubles the number of Chinese characters recognized by trackpad-based handwriting recognition.
Next, on the Internet services side, Mountain Lion offers support for Chinese alternatives to several worldwide services that are inaccessible in China. The most widely used search engine in China — Baidu — is now built into Safari. Users can blog with Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging service in China. 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 China’s biggest email service providers including QQ, 126, and 163.
It’s obvious Apple’s new version of its Mac operation system — Mountain Lion — changes the way Chinese users look on a Mac. All of the specific features for the Chinese market will increasingly become a key differentiator for the Mac in China, and thus more Macs will be sold in China. On the other side, the China-specific features are actually compulsory for Apple to embed into Mountain Lion, since China maintains tight control over the Internet, blocking access to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. So, Apple needs to embed popular and homegrown Chinese social networking and sharing services to take care the Chinese Mac users. However, we are afraid some Chinese users will still install Windows to their Macs.
Due to major restrictions barring the usage of any browser other than Internet Explorer, the majority of the most commonly used Chinese websites have been setup and tested to work only with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, without support for other web standards, non-IE browsers like Safari, Firefox and Chrome, or non-Windows operating systems. What’s more, the majority of Chinese banks only accept transactions via Internet Explorer, and any type of security packet technology there will only work with Windows.
Anyway, the whole bunch of China-specific features that are built into Mountain Lion send two messages. The first is that Apple is very serious and committed to China, since Apple CEO Tim Cook said Mac adoption in China last year grew 100 percent from 2010. The second is that Apple is telling Chinese customers that they are interested in innovating uniquely for them.
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