Some of my favorite Mountain Lion Features

Apple has released another Macintosh OSX version, called Mountain Lion (10.8.x).  I’m not the only one getting it.  Apple released that by July 31, over 3 million downloads were completed, making it “the most successful release in Apple’s history”.  I’ll admit, I’m not seeing too many features in this one.  Sure, there are lots, but nothing that really affects me per se.  There are a small few, which I’ll outline here.

They have certainly deviated a little bit from the version naming nomenclature when releasing new versions.  Most major releases that you pay for are usually on the left side of the decimal point (i.e. 10.x, 9.x, 11.x).  Then, you have the minor releases on the right side (i.e 10.8, 10.9, 10.7).  And, many times, you will see the fixpacks or service updates, or maybe even build numbers after that.  So, you may have fixpack 1, to update 2 of version 10 (i.e. 10.2.1).  Not Apple.  Because OSX is version 10, they just keep changing the minor version, even thought they are major upgrades.

Will there be a 11.1?  Will that be OSXI?  Could it be OSWORLDDOMINATION?  Time will tell.

Back to the features (tangent, anyone?):

1).  Notifications – Okay.  You can’t talk about Mountain Lion without talking about notifications.  It’s just awesome!  Before notifications, we had Growl.  And Growl is still nice.  But, I like that you can pull up notifications at anytime to see past items.  With Growl, you really don’t have that (or I haven’t seen it).  

Up until now, most apps were supporting Growl notifications.  But, if you look at the Notifications Preferences, only the built-in apps are configured for notifications.  So, what are we to do?  Use Hiss.  Hiss allows you to move your Growl notifications into the Apple notifications. Eureka!  At the time of this writing, it’s currently in Beta, but try it out! (Thanks to @Th1nkdifferent for this nugget of info).

2).  Safari Enhancements – I was a Safari fan.  Then, I was converted to Firefox.  Firefox took up too much memory, and I went to Chrome.  Chrome was faster but still wasn’t always accepted amongst the narrow-minded web developer community (hint: don’t block us because we aren’t using Browser X), but with the new Safari, I’ve come full circle.  (Yes, Internet Explorer was not even mentioned for a reason.  DRAT, I just mentioned it!!)  There are a couple of enhancements that has made me reconsider Safari as my primary browser.

The first is the search/address bar.  Taken from Chrome, you can now both search and type in a full address in the address bar.  Do you have any idea how easy this will make for our helpdesk technicians working with a non-techie user??  Plus, it just makes it easier for us.  I will admit, it didn’t always work for me.  I haven’t identified the pattern yet, on what is acceptable as a host address versus a search.

The other feature is the tab pinching.  If you are in Safari, you can pinch gesture on your touchpad, and the tabs will resize to a carousel that you can swipe to the tab you want.  Handy!

3).  Embedded Twitter – Finally! A twitter client that is embedded into the OS.  Now, that does not mean Twitter is fully functional.  Far from it.  It does, however, make it easier.  And, hopefully, with the API’s, a much richer set of Twitter apps on the horizon.

So, what does integrated Twitter mean for you?  Well, first, it hooks nicely with Notifications.  You can even tweet from the notifications bar.  It also makes it easy to tweet web pages, as it’s hooked into Safari as well.  But, that’s about it.  Limited, yes, but the possibilities are fantastic. The notifications alone are great.

4).  Messages (formerly iChat) - So, take iChat, and enhance it with iMessages, screen sharing, and file transfers, and you have iMessages.  It’s really fantastic.  I’ve already been using it more than I should.  With Jabber, Google Talk, and iMessages support, I pretty much have everything I need there.  I’ve already helped out my wife while at work.  No Webex, join.me, or GoToMeeting for me.  Fire up iMessages, and you’re golden!

Plus, because it adds iMessages support, I can chat with my wife’s Jabber account transferring files and chatting.  Then, she goes offline, and I just switch to her iMessages and start texting her on her iPhone/iPad.  I didn’t even switch windows.

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