Mac OS X Mountain lion was released a few days ago and it looks great. Allow me give highlight to the great things that OS X Mountain lion brings to Mac.
The first feature I want to talk about is dictation. Dictation is a great program on the Mac that is integrated very well within the system. Apple has done a great job with the dictation program. It recognizes your voice, learns from it and you can even do punctuation which is very nice. Dictation is a great feature for those who write essays, for those who are business people, for those who don’t like to type and for many other things. I once said in a previous article that Dictation would be the keyboard killer, it looks like it will be.
Another feature that is impressive in Mountain lion is the ability to go back and forth between iOS and Mac devices seamlessly. Photos, documents, emails, contacts, messages, everything is seamlessly transferred between different devices that you personally own. Even webpages and tabs can be iCloud integrated. Lion was the first to bring iCloud to the Mac, now Mountain Lion has done an extraordinary job of keeping that up. MobileMe was just recently shut down in favor of iCloud, now I see why Apple did that. iCloud is a great program that Apple has greatly implemented within its products. I give Apple a round of applause for doing greatness with their iCloud. It is of great benefit in owning multiple Apple devices when you have iCloud. In fact, it is it’s only purpose. iCloud’s only purpose is to bring together your Apple products. If you don’t have more than one Apple product, iCloud is not of great benefit to you. With that said, those with multiple Apple devices benefit greatly with iCloud. iCloud is the best of-its-kind service Apple could have come up with. MobileMe was never quite integrated between Macs and iOS devices. iCloud is the only one that Apple has truly done a extremely great job on and I applaud them greatly for it.
Another strong future of OS X Mountain lion is Notification Center. Notification Center for Mac is a great copy of the Notification Center for iOS. Notification Center for Mac is mainly useful for your mail, your missed FaceTime calls, your reminders and your messages among other things. In fact, this morning, all the notifications that I get on my iPad (email, reminders, Messages) was on all my Macs, so it wouldn’t matter what device I would start my day with, all my notifications would be on all devices. On my MacBook Air, I get everything right when I log on due to another great feature.
Only featured on Flash-based Macs will have this but those that do have it will like it. I downloaded Mountain Lion last night, so I didn’t have time to download updates, but no worries, I left it on sleep and it downloaded overnight. When I woke up, updates were downloaded, emails were in my mailbox, Messages in my message box, reminders were in my Mac, my Calendar events were all updated, everything was ready to go. iCloud did pretty well in syncing my things to my other Macs, but not immediately at start-up like my MacBook.
This feature is extremely useful to business people and children alike. Business people will like it for its ability to give presentations seamlessly and wirelessly. Children can use it in conjunction with Game Center and games on the Mac to a giant HDTV via Apple TV. Teachers can use it to give presentations, and show different material to a class. In fact, teachers would like it the same way they like iPad AirPlay. Of course, these aren’t the only people who would enjoy it. People wanting a larger screen for their Mac to make it a desktop (or if the Mac is a desktop, still for a larger screen), people wanting to share their photos, music, movies, iTunes TV shows, YouTube or what they re looking at on the screen (i.e. Church of Apple website etc). I’ve only used this feature a few times, but I can tell it will be very useful.
Notes and Reminders
These apps on the Mac have been mirrored very well from the iPad. With built-in Dictation, it is easy to make a note or set a reminder. These notes and reminders are synced concurrently with all of your devices, so if you make a note or reminder on your iPad its immediately available on the Notes app or Reminders app for Mac. Both apps look almost exactly like their iOS counterparts. iCloud, yet again, does an excellent job keeping you up-to-date.
The Messages app for Mac is another great mirror from iOS. Messages on iOS 5 is a great messaging service, something that I have called the text-killer and with the addition of Macs to the equation, it becomes more and more fit for that title. Messages allows you to send messages to all iOS devices with iOS 5 and Macs with Mountain Lion. You can start a conversation on your Mac and continue it on the go with your iOS devices, or vice versa. You can not only send messages but images, videos, audio, contacts, attachments, URLs, and the list goes on. You can send the same message to multiple people at the same time. You can see when someone sees the message you sent and you can tell, in real time, when they are typing back.
You can find the share button throughout your Mac and you can share just about anything through Messages, email, AirDrop, Twitter, and in the fall, Facebook. You can share photos, videos, and other files. You can make a post to Facebook or Twitter on a whim. This will prove useful for someone wanting to share something on your Mac to someone else, whether they be on a Mac or iOS device or even a PC (with an email). Mountain Lion makes it much easier to share many things to others.
The first thing I noticed about the new safari is that it looks quite a bit like Chrome. Safari now has a unified search and URL bar like Chrome. It has a share button in it just like many apps in OS X. The way tabs are set up is a little different than it used to be. You can use tabs with an iOS kind of feel, you have to see it to understand it, it’s really cool. Another feature borrows from iOS. It is the Offline Reading List, so you can save an article to read later, and you can read it even when you are offline. It automatically saves your passwords within the system so next time you log in, you don’t have to enter your log in information (of course that’s only if you want it to). If youre looking at something on your Mac online, you can pick up right where you left off on any Apple device. Safari also has faster performance.
Game Center for Mac is Apples next step to unified Mac/iOS gaming, both of which (contrary to some people’s beliefs) are great gaming platforms. Apple is taking a great approach to unite the two. It has a lot of the same features as Game Center for iOS. It has friend and game discovery (allows you discover friends you have yet to friend on Game Center and recommends games based on ones you already have), leader boards and achievements have also made their way. There are not many Game Center games for Mac yet, but the ones that are, are multiplayer and provide multiplayer gaming against (or with) other Macs and iOS devices with the same game. You can find opponents and you can chat with the people you’re playing with. Parents also can set parental controls to monitor their children’s playing.
Calendar and Contacts
Both applications have an iOS feel to them that they could very well be a emulator of the iOS version. Calender has a few new features such as a sidebar and the ability to give you suggestions for events you’re searching for. It also has notifications in the notification center to give you notice of upcoming events. Contacts has a few new features as well such as the ability to share contacts (almost like giving someone a business card of someone else). It also has the ability to group contacts into a group bar. These changes aren’t breathtaking but they will make your experience a bit easier.
Gatekeeper is Apples new way of keeping your Mac safe. You can select from different options. One, you can allow your Mac to install anything from anywhere just as in OS X Lion. Second, you can allow it to only download applications from the Mac App Store and third, you can download apps that are either from the MAS or from developers who have been signed with an ID. If you have it on a security option, and that option wont let you download something, you can do a manual override. Gatekeeper will keep your Mac even safer than it was before.
Mac App Store (Goodbye Software Update)
Software Updates are now done through the Mac App Store so you can download the essential computer updates and individual app updates at the same time. If something is in need of an update, you will recieve a notification. The apps you download will be pushed to all of your computers with Mountain Lion. You can now share links to your favorite apps right from the store. You can take it full screen and you can use Safari-like gestures to move around. The Store automatically downloads the updates and gets the computer ready for installation.
Facebook and Twitter
Coming in the fall, Facebook Intregation will be a big part of OS X. It will allow you to sign in once, and never have to again unless someone else signs into theirs. You can post to Facebook within the system, you will recieve notifications in Notification Center just as you do when you’re on the Facebook page, Share Sheet will be a Facebook staple, you can share anything from Share Sheet to Facebook, you can share your location, you can update your contacts with pictures from Facebook, and it will add your Facebook friends to your contacts. You don’t have to wait til fall to get the update for Twitter. Twitter, again, has the same log in once feature. You can post right from an app. The Twitter sheet (coined the Tweet Sheet), you can tweet photos and links, you can set up multiple accounts, you will recieve twitter notifications into your Notification Center. You can also tweet your location. Both Facebook and Twitter integration will be great additions to Mountain Lion.
Accessibility-Customizable preference pane, Accessibility pane available anywhere, 14 new Braille displays, drag and drop with VoiceOver with modifier keys, reorder tables, drag items to hotspots and support for press and hold with VoiceOver.
Auto Save- you can now rename from the title bar, you can revert to the last saved version of a document, you can move all supported documents to iCloud, prompt to save when closing a document, untitled iCloud documents are now in the iCloud to push to all devices, keyboard shortcuts for duplicate and Save As.
Dashboard- a new widget browser, search for widgets you already have (type the name of the widget, Dashboard shows results), create folders of widgets
Dictionary- swipe between pages of dictionary, additional dictionaries
Features for China- improved text input, dynamic word lists, fuzzy Pinyin input, Pinyin autocorrection, better handwriting recognition, mix Chinese and English without switching keyboards, user dictionary in iCloud, emoji and face marks, definition dictionary, Lookup support, Sina Weibo support and integration, Youku and Tudou integration, Baidu search in Safari, easy setup for email clients, new fonts
Finder- when copying a file from a server or drive, you can see its progress, easy encryption, a new share button so you can share files with Messages and AirDrop, customizable side bar, Tap for Quick-Look (preview files by clicking on it with three fingers)
Launchpad- A new search bar so it’s even easier to find apps
Mail-VIPs (indicate people who are most important), VIP smart mailbox (inbox for your VIPs, notifications for Mail, find a phrase or even a word within emails, click the sort bar at the top to go to the top of the email list, URL sharing to share URLs via email, mail preferences pushed to iCloud
Photo Booth- Share Sheet allows you to share pictures via Message, AirDrop, Mail, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo, make an individual photo your Twitter account photo
Preview- documents in iCloud, built in sharing, fill out forms downloaded from the Internet, adding comments to a PDF is easier, search and view all notes and highlights,
insert page from scanner
QuickTime X- Better performance, built-in sharing (Messages, Mail and AirDrop), easy AVCHD support
Security- Gatekeeper, FIPS 140-2 certification in progress (standard Encryption certification), Kernel ASLR (keeps you safe from Malware), Management tools for FileVault, more sandboxed apps, updates are checked for daily (cant say that about Windows 7), Safari safe HTML handling (data not sent to remote server)
System- Go full screen on any display, including secondary displays, drag and drop files within screen sharing, improved scroll bars system wide, especially in use in Safari, Game Center Chess, Photo Stream screen saver, new slideshows, Faces integration in photo picker, easier AirPrint setup, collections of your favorite fonts in Font Book, Xsan 3, X11 install
Text Edit- Pinch to zoom text and Documents in iCloud
Time Machine- encrypted backups, backup to multiple locations
There is something you do give in return for all these great features. It does require a bit more RAM and could prove troublesome for people with 2GB of RAM, and people who have 4 might worry, but I have 4 GB and mine is perfectly fine, and still does its job. And for those who have laptops, you guys might see a slight decrease in battery life, not substantial, maybe a 10-20 minute difference, but it still does make a difference.
As you can see, despite the caveats, there are ALOT of new features in Mountain Lion. And it’s just $20. Even if you don’t own iOS devices or another Mac, it’s still worth it. If the caveats don’t matter, and it shouldn’t, by all means download it. It’s a great new installment of OS X. I really like it and I really recommend it. I hope you will download it and enjoy it. You can read about the over 200 features in Mountain Lion at this page.
Thanks for reading,