So now that Mountain Lion has been out for a day, I thought I’d share my thoughts and experiences with OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion. As mentioned during some of our podcasts, I’ve been using Mountain Lion for a little while now. If you are still wondering, “is it worth it?” I’ll share with you why you’d be wise to upgrade. There are a few features that are worth highlighting that just might persuade (or make you run) from the upgrade.
The first is the deeper iCloud integration you are going to get from the OS. If you are a Pages, Numbers, or Keynote user you will find Apple’s newest OS to be a delight. If you create a document on your iPad or iPhone and want to begin to work on it from you OS X machine, the document is just sitting there waiting for you. When you make edits to the document from any of those devices, it will instantly push to the other devices. Personally I think this is one of the best new features. Apple has opened this up to developers as well, so hopefully we will be begin to see more applications that work this seamlessly across all three platforms. One common complaint I’ve read and heard from people is the worry that Apple is trying to move away from the traditional file structures we’ve been use to for so long. This is absolutely true, but I think that we are going to see more of this across all platforms.
Gatekeeper is another feature that makes Mountain Lion a worthwhile upgrade, especially if you have kids, or folks you don’t want installing potentially harmful applications to you machine. Apple’s new security feature, Gatekeeper, is designed to keep malicious applications from being installed on your machine. Starting now, developers who want their applications to work on OS X 10.8 must have a developer certificate through Apple. It is worth noting that Apple is not forcing developers to become part of their Developer Program and register their apps in the Mac App Store, they are simply requiring them to apply for a certificate that OS X will look up when installing an application from outside the Mac App Store. Many bloggers have expressed concern over the new feature saying Apple is gaining way too much control of the user. However, this feature can easily be turned off in the System Preferences menu.
I mentioned earlier Apple “borrowed” a number of additional features from iOS for 10.8. Some of those features are great additions. iMessages was previously available as a beta in 10.7, but it is now officially out for 10.8! In case you’ve forgotten iMessages for Mac allows you to read and send iMessages across all your devices now. In the fall Apple is allowing you unify your phone number and your email address. Twitter is now deeply integrated into the OS X platform. When you use System Preferences to setup your mail, contacts, and calendar accounts, there is now a Twitter option available as well. By signing into Twitter you will be able to share photos, websites, and more with the click of a button. OS X gained a “Notification Center” as well. Notification Center on Mountain Lion works just like it does on iOS. When you receive a message, email, etc they will come up on the side of your screen, with a quick preview. Developers will be able to use Notification Center as well. Conveniently there is a “Click to Tweet” button at the top of Notification Center. This is just like in Apple’s newest iOS software which is scheduled to launch Fall 2012. Apple also announced Facebook integration which will work exactly like Twitter. The Facebook integration is not currently available, but will be coming in a software update later this year. Another nice, new iOS feature available in Mountain Lion is Airplay and Airplay Mirroring. Now, if you have an AppleTV (2nd or 3rd Gen) you can Airplay Mirror to your AppleTV, just like on iOS. Apple not only took some iOS features, but a few iOS applications as well. Notes and Reminders are now available on OS X. They work just like they do on your iOS device so there is no learning curve. If you are using iCloud, all your Notes and Reminders will be pushed to your devices OS X or iOS.
Two final features that I think help make this update worthwhile are Power Nap and Dictation. Power Nap allows your computer to go to sleep, but it will continue to receive all of your iCloud information (photostream, email, contacts, documents, etc). What’s really great is that when you get home with your laptop, you can plug it in and put it to sleep and TimeMachine will still do backups and all of your software updates will be done for you without having to leave the lid of the machine open. The final feature I’m going to discuss is Dictation. Again, it was borrowed from iOS, but it is a great addition to OS X. The feature is exactly what is sounds like, it will dictate for you and is a speech to text feature. Supposedly the more you use it, the more it understands your voice and continues to get better. I’ve only used the feature a little bit, but so far it’s been awesome.
While this OS release is probably the most conservative release of OS X to date, apart from maybe 10.0 to 10.1, it is still one I’d say is worth while. Lion was a big jump from Snow Leopard and caused a few headaches for users. I feel as though Mountain Lion has fixed a number of those issues. Apple has really got a solid OS release that I think will be a delight for most users. If this were any more than $20 in the App Store it might have taken some more convincing, but it’s not so I’d suggest you make your way to the App Store and begin downloading!