Mac OSX Mountain Lion Review

 

I’ve been using a Macintosh computer since OS 9 was their main Operating System.   I stopped using it because Mac’s were going down in quality, were very expensive and didn’t quite match the new Windows 98 computers (IBM Compatible’s) that were available for a much lower price.      Without Steve Jobs, Apple was with no direction.  After they decided to go back to their founder things started to change fast.    OS X “Cheetah” finally came by, pissed off a lot of old users because of the transitional compatibility issues that marred it in the beginning.    After all was said and done, OS X ruled the Mac universe.  It was so advance it put everything else to shame.    Microsoft had a lot of problems with its Windows Me, the newer version of their popular OS, and failed to retain the quickness and responsiveness of its previous 98 edition.   It wasn’t until Windows XP that Microsoft would stand king of the computer world.     Meanwhile, Apple had been working in perfecting their own OS.  It had to match up with its new line of computers, the iMac.    Finally when all was said and done, OS X became the OS everybody was expecting it to be and it has been the class ever since.

I came back to the Apple world with OSX “Tiger”, a very good solid operating system that included upgrades such as the Dashboard and Spotlight.    As an internal search engine “Spotlight” was the most advanced way of finding your files.   There have been 4 major releases of OSX ever since, and each one of them has become a step towards unified user interfaces.   As the popularity of their mobile devices increased, so has its operating system iOS.   Sales for these devices are incredible and easily top Apple’s computer sales.   Given the fact that iOS is easier to use, Apple has decided to convert OS X to a PC version of iOS.   With Mountain Lion we get closer and closer to this as it now features the newest apps that mirror iOS as closely as possible.     With the last iteration of OS X, Lion, we had many new features that resembled iOS.  It was a sort of a unification upgrade that was not only cheap ($29.99) but not satisfying.    OS X Lion is probably the most hated upgrade OS X has ever had.  With Mountain Lion, Apple needed to fix many things in order for OS X mimicking iOS as it was originally expected with Lion.

DOWNLOADING AND INSTALLATION

Apple decided to lower the price of the upgrade to $19.99.  It sports 200 new features that sound lame on paper but work wonders in practice.   This update is only available on the App Store.   At around 4.5 GB in size, downloading the upgrade was fast and easy (no problems with the servers this time around).  Installation took about 55 minutes to complete and once it finished I immediately started playing around to find the new little things that people were already bragging about.    The first thing that strikes you is the similarity with OSX Lion.   Nothing seems to catch your eye at first glance.  The new background is very similar to the last one, so if you are not putting attention you won’t even notice it.  Once you start looking around your desktop you’ll start finding the little differences.First of is that there is a new icon by the Spotlight sign.  This is the new notification center, which is probably my favorite upgrade in Mountain Lion.

You’ll also notice the new iMessages icon on your dock, which many of you might already be familiar with if you downloaded the beta version that was available some months ago.   We also have two new apps available at your dock:  Reminders and Notes.  If you have iOS you’ll know what these new icons are as they were introduced way back with your iPhone and iPad.   As you look around it will be difficult to see many obvious differences. iCal has now been changed to Calendars and Address Book is now Contacts, this may seem like nothing but it unifies these apps to their iOS names in order for new comers to find them easily.

NOTIFICATION CENTER

To me, OSX Mountain Lion is all about the Notification Center.   This is the main thing that you’ll be using day in day out.   No other feature will be as used as this because its automatic.  Its function is plain and simple, notify you with new upgrades, emails, reminders, calendar events, iMessages and more.    Its always working and its always reminding you stuff.   It works fluidly and fast.  It’s even better than its iOS counterpart as it is easier to click the X button to eliminate notifications with the mouse than with your finger in the iOS version.   Graphically it looks quite similar to the iOS one and that is a good thing.     You can access notification center with a click on the right top corner icon or simply swipe your two fingers from the edge of the trackpad towards the middle and thats it.  Easy. You can customize the way these notifications appear on your screen.  Some of them stay there until you click on them, mainly calendar events.   Some notifications have different alert options such as the app store as it will notify you when you need to update software.

DICTATION

This one really caught me by surprise.  I didn’t expect it to work as good as it has.   Dictation is probably my favorite new feature simply because it works anywhere and it simply makes my life easier.  This post was written in some parts with dictation and it worked as good as I would like i to.  Dictation is an easy to setup and use feature in OSX Mountain Lion.  To set it up you go to system preferences, Dictation and Speech and click the Dictation On button.  The default shortcut key is Fn twice.   When you do this it will bring out the Siri Sound and bring in the already well known Siri Mic.   You start talking and voila!  It turns in to text.   It works better in a quite envrioment but it also works better than expected with other sounds going on in the background.   You can say, “comma”, “period”, “question mark” and “New paragraph” to insert punctuation.   This is specially hand when you don’t have time to write down notes or you want to write down a quick idea.   Its a wonderful tool that works mostly perfect.

Twitter Integration

With Mountain Lion, Apple wants to make sure that all the social media ingredients are well integrated in to the working environment.   We all know that most people spend a lot of time tweeting or updating their Facebook page when using their computer.   Apple decided to integrate Twitter and Facebook in to their new interface.     Facebook isn’t available at launch but will be added in a future update (October we’ve been told).  Twitter on the other hand was easier to integrate

As we can see with this screenshot, twitter is just a click away in most of your apps.  If you want to tweet about a new website right from safari, you go next to the URL bar and just press this button and you ‘ll be taken to a new tab that features many ways of sharing this web page.  It could be by mail, Facebook (future),  iMessage or Twitter.

Once you press the button that says Twitter you’ll be taken to a new window were you can write a regular tweet much like you would do on any Twitter client.  Be it iOS, the Twitter app or the website.    This is pretty handy as you can actually do this anytime in a ver fast convenient way.  You can even do it from your notification center.

AIRPLAY MIRRORING

One of the best features (if not the best) in OS X Mountain Lion is the ability to mirror your screen to your TV set via your Apple TV device.  This is an absolutely incredible feature that not only gives you a bigger screen to work with, it also helps with other tasks such as presentations and video games.     iPad and iPhone owners have had the privilege of using this feature for a while.  The New iPad can mirror the whole screen to a HD TV set and the iPhone can mirror media.  With Mountain Lion you can mirror whatever you’re doing on your computer to your TV.   I can only imagine the kind of things you’ll be able to accomplish with this.      Airplay Mirroring may be Apple’s answer to the Wii U in the near future, as you can be playing a game with your friends in Game Center and competing against them with their iOS Devices.   This is exciting news for gamers as the possibilities seem endless.  Imagine yourself playing your game with your laptop, closing it and continuing it on the road on your iOS device?  This is awesome.

There is one drawback though.  You need to have the newest models of Apple’s computers.    Mainly 2011 and on.   If you have an older version forget about it.  This is the only reason I don’t rate this feature over Notification Center, as it is limited to newer models and leaves older computers in the dust.

OTHER FEATURES

There are over 200 new features with OSX Mountain Lion, it would be impossible for me to write about each one of them as some are just graphical interface tweaks or minor upgrade to features you’ve grown accustomed to.   Some are completely new like Reminders and Notes and others are just upgrades, like Mail and Safari.       Safari does boost some new good stuff like a unified bar for searching and typing URL addresses (much like Chrome has done for a while now).   It also tweaked some of its graphical animations to make it look more modern and added a pinch gesture that opens up a tab selection cover flow.     Mail has a new VIP star that lets you select the most important senders and mails.   As I said, new things that just make things better, but not revolutionary new features.    Reminders and Notes work much like their iOS counterparts, no need to dwell in to them.   Mission Control is better than the version found on Lion and Launch Pad now seems to be getting to where Apple wants it, as the main App screen on your mac, as it now sports a search bar on top.   Two things I must talk about before my final verdict: iMessages and iCloud.

iMessages is as clunky as the beta version.   It is also not practical enough as other Apple products are.   It doesn’t work as expected and it doesn’t unify conversations with your iOS devices as one would want it to.   Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.    I  had a hard time configuring my iMessages account and wasn’t able to quickly send a message.  It took a while for the app to recognize my Apple ID.   Definitely not the brightest moment in Apple history.    iCloud is also kind of disappointing.     My main gripe with iCloud is that there isn’t a main folder where you can find all your documents.  They are just stored in the air through their respective app.   We need a more organized way of using this in order for it to work properly.

VERDICT

Is Mac OS X Mountain Lion a must buy upgrade?  For $19.99 of course it is!   It’s way better than advertised.   Notification Center and Social Media integration alone are worth the twenty bucks.   Everything that made Lion a bad upgrade has been as polished as it can be in order to be a satisfying Apple interface experience.     With the possible exception of iMessages and iCloud (both expected to get upgraded in the near future) we are looking at a real winner here.   For owners of newer Macs such as the new Macbook Pro Retina Display, there are many features that will enhance your user experience.  Everybody else still has many reasons to upgrade as it also makes everything faster and more eficient than ever.  Even with my minor gripes, Mountain Lion is a true winner and should be on the list of must do things for every Mac owner out there.  Just be careful, as any Operating System upgrade, be sure to back up your files and check compatibility for your power apps.

PRO’s

  • Elegant and Fast
  • Notification Center
  • Dictation
  • Airplay Mirroring full of possibilities
  • Social Media Integration (Twitter and Facebook)

CON’s

  • iMessages still clunky
  • iCloud not organized enough
  • Dictation and Airplay Mirroring not available for all Macs

FINAL SCORE:  8.5 out of 10.0

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