OS X Mountain Lion – Is It For You?

 

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.

 

 

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WWDC 2012 – The (Near) Future of Apple

 

Lots to digest from today’s WWDC Keynote, the first fronted by current CEO Tim Cook. Glaringly, albeit unsurprisingly, absent from the keynote was the famous “One More Thing.” But there was plenty more present than absent, in my opinion, in the offerings.

 

It’s hard to give every detail, as the keynote did not attempt to list or explain every detail. With over 200 new features in iOS 6 alone, it would have taken a lot more than two hours to do the list justice. The keynote hits the highlights and the next few days and months will fill in the blanks.

 

The high points include a refresh of the MacBook Airs and MacBook Pro, some with quad core Ivy Bridge processors, up to 8 GB of RAM, improved graphics, and USB 3.0 ports. The real star of this part of the show, though, was the new MacBook Pro 15.9″ with a full blown, 2880 by 1800 resolution Retina Graphics display. With a price as stunning as the new display at $2,199. Ouch.

 

OS X Mountain Lion will bring lots of cool new features as well. The new OS X will include the same dictation function found on the new iPad, with the ability to update statuses on social networks and more. More and better iCloud syncing, including documents, reminders and notes. iMessage is coming to the Mac via Mountain Lion. New Notifications bearing a striking similarity to the iPhone / iPad notifications. Airplay mirroring from your Mac to your Apple TV. Game Center. A Power Nap state allows the Mac to run certain updates while in sleep mode. Safari is about to get measurably better, with a similar search function from the URL bar as Chrome has already been employing, syncing of tabs across devices, greater speed, and more. Mountain Lion will come with a much more modest update price of $19.95.

 

Then, the keynote turned to iOS 6. For me, the best news was Siri coming to the new iPad! Siri is also getting more full featured, with the ability to launch apps and provide sports knowledge, movie listings, and better restaurant interfacing. Like Twitter in iOS 5, Facebook is getting heavily integrated into iOS 6, with instant share for photos, websites, maps and other things. Facebook events and birthdays will sync with the iPhone calendar. And Siri will go hands and eyes free with integration of hardware by auto makers –  Siri and the iPhone will be accessible with the press of a button on the steering wheel.

 

There is a great new set of features for the phone app, believe it or not, including dismissing incoming calls and sending a message to the caller.  Or setting a reminder to respond later. Facetime, previously WiFi only, is about to go cellular too. You can set a “Do Not Disturb” button to silence notifications. Shared Photostreams encourages social photo sharing and commenting. There is a gorgeous new Maps app that all but kills third party navigation apps like Navigon – 3D mapping, turn by turn directions from Siri, Siri integration to launch the mapping app, crowd-sourced, realtime traffic information, and all of this on the lock screen. And it integrates with Yelp to help you find businesses while traveling.

 

iOS 6 also includes the cryptic new Passbook, which collects data such as movie tickets, train tickets, airline tickets, sporting event tickets, making them available in one application. The tickets, etc., will have QRCodes and 2-D barcodes. Passbook will allow you to  purchase tickets through Fandango, have them sent to your iPhone, and then offer access to the movies by simply flashing your iPhone. The lock screen, no less. Same with airline tickets. Very cool.

 

Mobile Safari is also getting spruced up with the ability to sync open tabs from Safari on a desktop to Safari on an iOS device via iCloud. There is also a Read It Later type Reading Lists functionality with a list of items for later perusal when off line. Email has been improved with the ability to designate VIP email senders which allows you to prioritize emails on your iPhone. You will be able to add pictures and videos to emails directly from the email application, rather than the Photo application. There will also be the ability to use different signatures for different email accounts. About time.

 

And this is just a partial list. Looking forward to getting the release in the Fall (maybe September – I am hoping). While I was a bit disappointed not to hear officially about the new iPhone, I was not displeased with the updates to the old standbys, including the introduction of some cool new features. I have seen the (near) future of Apple, and it shines brightly, in very high resolution.

Drag Text, Create Note

This is so flipping clever, I had to make my own post about it! Evan Kline at 40Tech gives a little efficiency tip for Mac OSX users that I was completely unaware of. If you want to create a quick, simple note about something, simply select / highlight the text you want and then drag it onto your desktop! The text is transformed into a text note, which you can then refer back to as needed. It works from any app. Great for quick, simple information transfer – like an address from an email or a sentence from a web page. Nice one, Evan!