- Read this article to find out about the top ten Mountain Lion features, including easier Tweeting.
The biggest news in the Apple World other than the fact that Apple released the latest iPad last week and, that by the time you read this, the iTunes App Store will probably have reached 25 billion downloads, is that OS X (10.7) Lion’s tenure as king of the Mac world will expire in a few months. A new top cat, Mountain Lion (AKA OS X version 10.8) will hit the cloud on an as yet undisclosed date this summer.
OS X (v. 10.8) Mountain Lion
While I have not seen or worked with Mountain Lion yet, I have looked at the features Apple has identified on its website. It appears that Mountain Lion will represent an update of the current OS, but will not be a replacement anywhere near as sweeping as some of the previous cat replacements. I have heard several interesting rumors about why Apple has announced Mountain Lion and planned to release it so soon after it released Lion. I have my own theory about that as well. One of the explanations I heard was that Apple was able to get this version out so quickly on the heels of Lion because it had done much of the preparatory work in the development of Lion (as well as in the release of iOS 5). I believe that explanation to have some truth.
Shortly after Lion came out, I commented that it had been the only upgrade to an Apple operating system that had caused me problems. By comparison, almost every Windows OS system upgrade has caused me problems, to the point that I shy away from upgrading Windows systems on computers and simply get a new computer with the new operating system and start fresh because it tends to work much better. I am hopeful that I will not have to adopt a similar posture with Apple system upgrades: we will see if they do better with Mountain Lion than they did with Lion. I will let you know, once Apple releases it and I have had the opportunity to check it out in some detail.
My own theory about what happened is that Apple rushed Lion out the door too soon, and they should have done more testing before releasing it. I cannot help but wonder whether releasing Mountain Lion so soon after Lion represents Apple’s way of trying to clean things up a bit.
Whatever the story, I will not shed tears over the replacement of the Lion OS. Mountain Lion will bring some very nice new features to the Mac and, hopefully, Apple will have figured out how to avoid the installation/operation issues I experienced with Lion by the time it releases Mountain Lion and will correct them in Mountain lion.
Apple has not announced the pricing for Mountain Lion. I expect that it will sell Mountain Lion through the App Store (meaning download only, unless you buy a new computer with Mountain Lion already installed) and at about the same price as Lion. That means a large download (probably in the range of 4 GB) to accommodate the installation. When Lion first came out in the App Store, demand for it proved quite high. The problems many of us experienced with the download process likely reflected an overloaded demand on the system. Hopefully, Apple will have learned from that lesson and ensure that has an adequate download capacity to handle the demand. Apple would be well advised to consider that in connection with the release of the new operating system.
Many of the features Apple touts for Mountain Lion already exist in iOS 5. Simply put, Apple is bringing iOS features from the iPad into the Mac OS through Mountain Lion. Interestingly, prerelease information suggested that the newest iPad would have more features from the Mac OS. Assuming the accuracy of those rumors, it appears that Apple has decided to bring the iPad and the computer into closer performance proximity, making both platforms more flexible and improving personal productivity through a smoother transition from one tech device to another.
Apple has identified what it considers the most appealing features of Mountain Lion on its website. The top ten features (those listed on the Apple website) consist of:
Apple is phasing iChat out, merging its features into a new program called Messages. Messages gives you all of iChat’s functionality plus the ability to send unlimited text messages to other computers, iPads, iPod Touches, and iPhones. The iMessage program will allow you to send text messages and to attach documents, photos, contact information, and so forth. You can get a delivery receipt and even see when someone is typing a reply. Apple has this part of the release pretty much done and has released a public beta that you can download and install on your computer running the Lion OS. You can get the link on the Apple website here. The download costs you nothing. I put it on my computers last week and have found it to operate without a problem so far. Note: you do need to have an Internet connection to use it.
As its name implies, Reminders gives you the ability to create lists to remind yourself of tasks you need or want to accomplish. It will also give you reminders of upcoming deadlines. Reminders can synchronize your tasks on your computers, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch through its connection to iCloud.
As you may recall, iCloud replaced Apple’s less than well-functioning MobileMe. Although iCloud does not work perfectly, it performs much better and more reliably than MobileMe ever did. When it works, it can keep calendars, contacts, documents, mail and photographs synchronized among your computers, iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Since its release, iCloud has functioned fairly well and continues to improve. Mountain Lion will expand the interaction between your devices and iCloud, allowing you to keep your devices synchronized at more levels.
An upgrade to the current program, Notes will interface with iCloud, allowing you to synchronize your notes among your computer, iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Apple says that when they release the program, you will have the ability to pin notes to your Desktop, as well as to share your notes with family, friends, colleagues, and others.
Banners advising you of calendar alerts, instant messages, email arrival, and other events will appear on your desktop, so that you can know what is going on, even if you are working on something else. The banners disappear after a short time, so you can simply ignore them an continue your work or take a break, to deal with them if you choose.
This feature will allow you to sign in and Tweet directly from your computer, without leaving the program you are working in at the time. Twitter lets you send links and photos directly from Safari, iPhoto, or Photo Booth. You can also get notifications if someone sends you a message or mentions you in a Tweet. As I am not a big fan of Twitter, this one gets a big “ho-hum” from me; but for those of you who live to Tweet, it will likely prove very convenient for you.
A Share button will now appear in many apps. The button will let you link photos, videos, and documents. Apple touts this as another social networking feature, allowing you to connect to Twitter , Flicker, and other networking sites.
Apple’s Game Center originated in the iOS and now moves to your computer as well in the new operating system. Apple designed Game Center as a social networking system for game players. The new feature makes it easier for you to interrupt your work to compete with your friends during coffee breaks—you on your computer and your friends on their devices.
Apple’s AirPlay has attracted much attention. This feature expands the AirPlay world by allowing you to stream whatever is on your Mac to your HDTV using Apple TV. You can use this to show videos, share PowerPoint presentations, or present to a classroom or a conference room. This feature has direct benefits for litigation work, transactional work, and teaching.
For many years Mac owners operated on the theory that Macs lacked vulnerability to the security issues that plagued Windows. In fact, the simple truth of the matter is that the Mac was never as big a target as the Windows platform due to its much smaller market share. As Apple’s piece of the pie grew, so did its exposure to security issues. Gatekeeper helps makes the Mac safer. It helps prevent unknowingly downloading and installing malicious software. And it gives you control over which applications to download and run on your Mac. Now you can choose from three security options. You can download and run applications from anywhere; download and run apps from the Mac App Store and apps with a Developer ID; or download and run only apps from the Mac App Store.
Apple has not yet announced all of the other features that it will include in Mountain Lion. If you want more detail about these features and updates on future announcements of features for Mountain Lion, check it out at the Apple website.