From swiping from the right hand side of the trackpad leftwards to the middle to swipe open the new Notifications bar to double tapping on the keyboard’s FN key to bring up dictation, Mountain Lion OS X 10.8 is a sweet new upgrade.
When it first starts after the 34 to 55 minute installation process for regular hard disk based Macs as I was doing for my soon-to-be-replaced but current 2010 MacBook Pro 13-inch, which took closer to the 55 minute mark than the 34 initially promised. Happily, it took around half the supposed "34 mininute" minimum time indicated if you’re upgrading a friend's SSD-equipped 2012 MacBook Air as I did in the wee hours of this morning – and it’s 5.36am as I type). Once installed, it all reboots and restarts, and when it does, you're asked to put in your iCloud login details in what is a similar process to the self-activation process when you first set up your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
iCloud Sync is activated so Reminders, Notes, Emails, Bookmarks, documents and plenty more are synced automatically in the cloud between all your iDevices using the same Apple ID and password – with the only seeming reference to MobileMe being when you decide to sync notes, for which you have to create a yourname*me.com address, which if you don't already have one, is a simple process but one that's necessary for iCloud notes syncing.
In any case, this all worked perfectly in my initial and thus far subsequent tests, with edits, changes, new contact entries, new reminders and more quickly synchronising between different devices.
Safari also has the address bar and search box finally in one unified fashion as has been the case with Google Chrome for some time – now only Firefox needs to catch up out of the three major browsers and get its browser/search bar in single-file-order.
I haven’t tried iCloud tab sharing yet, but did click the button that lets you use two fingers to swipe through your tabs – an awesomely simple and cool feature that you’ll soon grow accustomed to while wondering why it was never delivered before.
I haven’t had the chance to use Gatekeeper yet, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing AirPlay mirroring from the MacBook work on a flatscreen TV via an Apple TV and how smoothly – or otherwise – AirPlay Mirroring is through Mountain Lion – and especially while watching video or playing games, as I have seen jitter or frames dropped when AirPlaying from an iPad 2 or new to a screen with an Apple TV connected.
Apple’s site has all the details on the new Mountain Lion 10.8 OS http://www.apple.com/au/osx/, complete with a 5+ minute intro video going over the most important new features, which finally also includes iMessage, Reminders and Notes as apps in Mac OS X too, which all sync together seamlessly across different devices.
The only app that came up as being incompatible on my system is “Air Display”, which is used to mirror content or extend the desktop of a MacBook to an iPad or iPhone, so there’ll no doubt be an update quick smart for that from the app maker.
I also noticed that when clicking on “Software Update” from the Apple logo menu at the top left hand corner of your screen, that Software Update now loads up from the App Store, rather than as a floating bar on the screen as was the case in previous Mac OS versions.
That previously mentioned Voice Dictation worked amazingly well, although I did have to click an “I Agree” type box to acknowledge that a voice profile was going to be built for me and my voice, one which will learn to better understand my voice and what I say.
I’ve also noticed that Skype asked me if I wanted to give it permission to go through my Address Book contacts, but for that I said no – at least for now.
I haven’t tried the Facebook or Twitter integration yet either, but the demo shows Facebook status updates through the Notifications bar and the single sing-on that lets you tell your Mac your Facebook username and password once so you’re always logged in when you next to ordinarily log on.
For now, aside from needing to get to bed to get some sleep, it has been a joyous and incredible simple experience – with no new Metro screens or desktop/tablet metaphors or radical changes to contend with, as Windows 8 users are all about to discover (while also quickly getting over and then starting to enjoy as well).
So… there’s still much more to learn about the Mountain Lion that is OS X 10.8, what with its 200 new features and already a zillion articles on the Internet with the top 10 Mountain Lion features-this, what Windows 8 can learn from Mountain Lion-that, to other ML 10.8 tricks you can pull out of your virtual hat.
However, from a first impressions point of view, the OS has thus far been wonderfully sweet and simple, with the major new headline features and capabilities effortlessly easy to quickly learn and quickly start using.
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion may well have had a big roar when it came to improvements over the previous Snow Leopard OS X 10.6, but Mountain Lion is showing its roar is filled with even more power and presence that all the previous Mac OS X versions combined!