Hands-on with Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8)

August 12, 2012

Written by wukovits

On July 25, Apple released the latest update to their operating system: OS X 10.8, otherwise known as Mountain Lion.  As with Lion (OS X 10.7), this update is available through the App Store, albeit at a lower price of $19.99, but Apple will not be releasing this version on a thumb drive at an additional price.  Upon purchase, the 4.05GB download will be saved to your Applications folder and will update your operating system once completed.  It can run on all the newer Macs, but you’ll need to make sure your system is equipped to run this new OS, which you can check here.  You’ll also need to be running Snow Leopard (10.6) or Lion (10.7) to perform the update.

OS X 10.8 Mountain LionThis new release brings more unity between Apple’s two platforms, with features that mimic those in the operating system for their mobile devices, iOS.  Notable additions to 10.8 include the Notification Center, a feature that was added to iOS 5.  It provides alerts about happenings on your computer, like incoming email and messages, calendar events, reminders, and more.  While other third-party apps used to take on this task, this inclusion in Mountain Lion will surely take over this functionality for most Mac users.  Third-party apps can also plug into the Notification Center but their settings will be found in their own preferences, while Notification Center has it’s own settings for controlling preferences for interacting with Apple products.

Dictation is now built into the OS, allowing you to easily speak what you’d like to type.  It doesn’t require any training to understand your voice, but I would imagine that certain users might find it inaccurate, much like with the iPhone and iPad.  You can use it to type in any application and pressing the “Fn” key twice easily activates it.  You can even use it to compose message in iMessages, which has taken over where iChat left off, allowing you to send and receive messages with other Macs and iOS devices.

Reminders and Notes now warrant their own app, where they used to be hidden within Mail and iCal.  This falls right in line with how they work on your iOS devices.  To further the consistency among platforms, iCal and Address Book have been rechristened as Calendar and Contacts to match their counterparts on the iPhone and iPad.

AirPlay mirroring now arrives on the Mac, allowing you to display the desktop of your Apple computer with an Apple TV on the same network.  If you’ve ever used this feature on your iPad or iPhone, it works just the same.  However, to use this new feature you’ll need to have a Mac from 2011 or newer, so some upgraders won’t be able to capitalize on this addition to the OS.  It works for audio too, so if you have a Spotify account, you can play it on your Mac and have it stream to your Apple TV.  A nice addition would be enabling your Mac as an AirPlay receiver, so hopefully a future update will address this.

Of course, I’ve just scratched the surface on a bunch of the new features that Mountain Lion brings to the Mac.  Overall, it’s a nice update for your Mac, but as always, you’ll want to make sure your apps are compatible with it.  A great resource for this can be found at RoaringApps, so be sure to check it out before you opt to update to OS X 10.8.  Once you do, I’m sure that you’ll be pleased with Apple’s latest release.

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