Back at the beginning of June, we detailed some of the top new features in the next version of Apple’s operating system for Laptop and Desktop, OS X Mountain Lion, the 8th major revision to Apple’s wildly popular OS X system.
While the list of new features is far from staggering, neither is the price. While previous updates to OS X have cost as much as $129, you can buy Mountain Lion today from the Mac App Store for only $19.99. At that price, you have little to lose. Keep reading to find out what you get for your money.
iMessage on Your Mac
A popular feature of iPhones and iPads is the ability to send text-like messages for free over WiFi. With Mountain Lion, Apple is bringing Messages to the Mac, for free. Now you can start a conversation on your Mac, move it to your iPhone when you leave the house, pick it up on your iPad later—all without losing a single message between devices.
Another feature inspired by Apple’s mobile devices, a notification center comes to the Mac with Mountain Lion. Not only are all of your apps notifications now confined to the top right corner of your screen, but just like on iOS you can configure how what kinds of notifications you want and from what apps. While I’m generally opposed to notification as I find them distracting, I’m curious to see if Apple has finally gotten this right. Only time (and some extensive testing!) will tell, so I’ll have to get back to you on this one.
Are you seeing a theme here? Features from the iPhone and iPad are coming to the Mac in a big way this year, and Game Center is another piece of that puzzle. While leader boards, achievements, and social aspects are a boon, Apple has huge competition here in the form of Valve Software’s Steam, the undisputed leader in digital video game downloads. We’ll have to see how this plays out, because Steam already has a huge lead with millions of users, and hundreds of Mac games including several of the top AAA titles, plus their own achievement system.
While Safari gets a number of enhancements in Mountain Lion, there’s only one I’m excited about: the Smart Search Field. Taking a page from Google’s Chrome Browser, you no longer have to use separate URL and search fields to use the web—the Smart Search Field automatically detects whether you’re entering a website address or trying to perform a search, and adapts automatically. This was the #1 reason I switched to Chrome in the first place, so now I’m curious to see if the new Safari in Mountain Lion prompts me to switch back. I’ll have more detailed thoughts about the latest Safari in my upcoming Mountain Lion review.
If you’ve used an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch for even just a few minutes, you’ve probably noticed how easy it is to share content. Now that ubiquitous little share button comes to the Mac, ready to push your content to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo with the click of a mouse.
Now you can seamlessly sync your documents between your Mac and your iPhone and iPad, as well as your reminders. A huge change for the business user who uses Pages, Keynote or Numbers and needs to work on their documents on the go, this could prove to be a killer feature for many Mountain Lion users. No longer having to rely on a kludge like Dropbox to offer this functionality, sharing and working on your documents on different devices is now a built-in feature for Macs.
Got an Apple TV? This might be Mountain Lion’s killer feature! Wirelessly shoot your Mac’s display onto your big screen TV or the projector in the boardroom with AirPlay mirroring. Note that just like with your iPhone or iPad, this feature requires a $99 Apple TV to work, so you might want to pick up one of those while you’re at it. You can also check out a video of Mario demonstrating how AirPlay mirroring works on his iPad.
While not Siri for the Mac (hopefully, that’s still in the works!) this new feature will let you dictate text into any app.
Your Mac will still go to sleep with Mountain Lion, just not as deep of a sleep as before. A sleeping Mac can now download and install security updates as well as back up to a time machine, all while operating in a low power consuming mode. This should mean that both your computer and your data will be safer, without pesky updates getting in the way of your workflow.