OS X Mountain Lion is now out and available to Mac users everywhere. For $19.99, you can tap into Apple’s latest OS for its more traditional computers. But the new OS brings Apple’s traditional computers as close to their popular iPhone and iPad products as Apple has ventured yet. Some really smart people I know predicted this move a couple of years ago – Apple’s migration to a single OS that favors its mobile and spreads iOS functionality to all Apple computers. So, if you are wondering whether to upgrade, you should first ask yourself: how much do I like the iPad and iPhone interface?
Another question you should ask yourself is: how much do I use or want to use iCloud? Last year’s Lion knocked on the door of the then-newly introduced iCloud integration, but Mountain Lion just barges right through with a fanfare.
Finally, you should take a look at your set-up and ask: do I use a Mac, an iPad and/or iPhone? Because with all the great integration across devices, you will want to make sure you are actually using the devices this new operating system favors – Apple’s own products.
There are more than 200 new features, and I won’t list them all in this post, but you can see them all here. I will highlight some. First, there are the iOS features that you can now find on your Mac with Mountain Lion: Notifications, iMessage (in which you can easily switch to Facetime Video Chat), the iOS Share button now available in Safari, iPhoto, Preview and offering one-click sharing to your favorite social networks after you log into them once. Another feature, which some might find troublesome, is the same gatekeeper mentality found in the iOS app store now protecting your Mac from downloads – the Gatekeeper application pushes you to download from the Mac App Store or a registered Apple Developer (I used to be one!). The idea is to protect you from malicious or undesirable downloads, but the obvious downside is limiting access or making access to other fine applications that don’t necessarily fit these narrow parameters more difficult.
As noted above, iCloud is far more able in the new OS – you can now get synced access across devices for Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, FaceTime, Game Center, Safari, Reminders, iTunes, the Mac App Store, and Notes. With iCloud documents from the Pages app, you get a new document library with views, sharing and foldering.
Safari has a unified search box / url box, a la Chrome and iCloud tabs to be shared across devices. Like previous integration of Twitter in Lion, Apple has now married Facebook with single sign on and Facebook sharing features throughout. You can also match your contacts with their Facebook photos, so they look prettier (or not as the case may be). Game Center is now incorporated on your Mac. Dictation is now available in any app via a keyboard shortcut. There is AirPlay mirroring from your computer to your TV as well.
These are the high points. My sense is that you will get a lot of value for your buck with Mountain Lion is you are sold already on Apple’s mobile OS. Even more bang for your buck if you are sold on iCloud. Nonetheless, even if you are not so sure on these, there are improved security and system features that fill out the $19.99 price tag without making you feel like you bought a bag of air. All in all, Mountain Lion offers some very nice features for a very nice price, many that will make managing your business and personal life easier.