Apple last month began extensive internal testing of OS X 10.9, according to the traffic logs of several popular sites. AppleInsider and MacRumors both recently reported a sharp increase in the number of visits from machines identifying themselves as “Intel 10.9.”
Here at The Mac Observer, a similar trend was noted in our traffic logs, with a few visits in the early part of January quickly turning into thousands of visits by the end of the month.
Recent hits for "Intel 10.9" at The Mac Observer
Testing of the next version of OS X has been noticed in our traffic logs since November 2012, but visits until now have been no more than a few dozen at a time. The recent increase in traffic may indicate that Apple is close to publicly introducing its next big cat.
The identifying information for a computer can be easily manipulated in order to report false data to a website or server, but the timing of the hits, along with their simultaneous appearance among several Apple-focuses sites, makes it likely that the vast majority are genuine representations of test builds of OS X 10.9.
Like iOS, Apple has adopted a yearly launch cycle for OS X, and if the software is on target for another late summer launch, internal testing at this time would not be surprising.
The next version of OS X remains unnamed.
Apple’s current desktop operating system, 10.8 Mountain Lion, was first announced in mid-February 2012. Apple also took that opportunity to release one of several developer preview builds that would take the OS to its ultimate release late July. If Apple plans to follow the same release schedule, a prerelease build of the unnamed operating system could be in the hands of developers as early as next week.
Relatively little is known about plans for OS X 10.9. In addition to the expected performance enhancements, rumors have suggested that the next OS will bring Siri to the Mac and offer a desktop integration with Apple’s controversial Maps service. It has also been rumored that development of 10.8 and 10.9 began at the same time, with Apple selectively prioritizing features for each release so that the company could maintain a yearly release schedule. It is therefore likely that the next OS will be very similar to Mountain Lion, with the addition of a few new apps or services that Apple decided to bake for another year.
As it waits to be replaced, Mountain Lion continues to perform well in terms of adoption rate. In early January, analytics firm Net Applications revealed that the OS had surpassed both Snow Leopard and Lion to become the most popular version of OS X currently running on internet-connected Macs.
Teaser graphic made with help from Shutterstock.