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August 2, 2012
Mountain Lion is worth every penny of the $19.99 price tag and a lot more. What blows me away is that Apple releases this operating system upgrade for under 20 bucks and you simply go and download the thing and it starts the installer all by itself. The ultimate in convenience if you ask me. The 4 plus Gigabyte download takes a while, but its pretty seamless to install.
I downloaded my copy on July 25; the day it was first made available to the teeming masses. My first attempt was ‘put on hold’, but the second attempt a couple of minutes later worked perfectly. Not bad for opening day when so many people were trying to get their download all at once basically.
First, the bad news.
If you don’t have a Mac that’s mid-2007 or newer, you’re SOL (So Out of Luck). You have to be running Lion or at least the latest version of Snow Leopard on your compatible computer. If you meet the first two criteria and have an iTunes account and 20 bucks, well then, this is your chance to step up.
Like all new operating system upgrades – especially major ones like this – there are new ways of doing some of the old things you’ve become accustomed to. Some features you love may be gone or changed and some new features may leave you wondering what’s going on. You need to give a new OS a chance, so if you download OSX 10.8, look around and read up on it. There’s a great OSX site of Apple’s that gives a ton of information. I’ve only had it installed for a day and already I’ve found new things that I’m thrilled with.
Apple has a Tech Specs web page that tells you in detail what you need to have to run Mountain Lion – check it out before you take the plunge. No point in wasting $20 if you don’t have what it takes to run the OS.
Now, some of the good news:
iCloud is the key word here – the integration with all your connected ‘iDevices’ gets even tighter with this new upgrade. It’s a piece of cake to keep all your ‘stuff’ together within iCloud, and now all the main apps work seamlessly with it. Mail, Calendar, Reminders and Notes have worked together through iCloud for a while, but now Contacts and Messages are newly available, and even iWork documents will be available across all of your Mac devices.
I’ve found that the absolute best way to communicate with my son is via text. He’ll answer a phone call – reluctantly, but he’ll pretty well always shoot a text back within a few seconds of me sending it. Now, with Messages, I can message him from my Mac and conversation thread is intact on whatever device I use. By sending from my Mac I don’t have to worry about exceeding my text limit – I know, I should have unlimited texting, but now I don’t need it.
I love the Notification Centre. I can set up my apps, like Mail, for example, to notify me when new ones come in by flashing an alert in the upper right portion of my Mac’s screen. Ditto for messages, calendar events – a whole myriad of things. This is a really useful feature for me; I spend far too much time on my computer and now I don’t have to jump around from app to app to see what’s happening. The incoming data comes to me.
Facebook integration has been significantly enhanced, except in Canada where it won’t be available until the fall, when Apple will put out an update to the OS.
Dictation is a new feature that allows you to literally dictate text anywhere and in any program you would ordinarily type it. You need to go into the System Preferences to set this up. While we’re still a while from being able to say ‘computer’ like Scottie, and then issue it commands, Dictation offers you the opportunity to interface with your computer in a new way.
One feature I already can’t live without is the ability to make VIPs in Mail. You can very easily make someone you get regular e-mail from or anyone whose e-mails you want to keep separate a VIP, and the OS automatically creates a folder with their name and moves all e-mails addressed from them into that folder. It’s an absolutely great way to keep track of a large amount of e-mail. I’m not sure if this is my favourite new feature or whether the Notification Centre is.
System-wide sharing offers you the ability to share content you find interesting with others in a very easy way. Surf and find a page you thing someone else would like, then simply select the Share icon in the toolbar and you have the choice of sending the page in an e-mail, a link in a message, a link you can tweet about, and eventually directly to Facebook.
Some other new features include the Gatekeeper, which helps downloading from the Internet safer, AirPlay Mirroring, which now allows you to stream 1080p video from your Mac to your high definition TV via Apple TV, or audio to AirPlay compatible speakers. If you own a MacBook Air, PowerNap is a sweet application that will automatically download and install software updates while your computer is not being used. Now that’s a nice addition.
If you’re a gamer, then the new Game Centre brings the iOS social gaming network to the Mac, so you can take on all your pals whether you’re on an iOS device or a Mac.
Those are just a few of the new additions that I’ve already discovered and that I think make the purchase price worth it. As I use the new OS more and more I’m sure I’ll discover plenty of new features but, so far, it’s well worth the 20 bucks and time to install it.
PROS: 200 new features, better iCloud integration, under $20 cost – it’s a great deal.
CONS: You need a newer Mac to run it and, if you have a slow internet connection, the 4GB download takes forever.
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