As promised, Apple has released the next version of its OS X operating system on time. Code named “Mountain Lion”, this is Apple’s eighth version of OS X. Apple has added many new features into this version of OS X, integrating its new iCloud which replaced MobileMe, and adding Twitter support right into the operating system directly. Apple has released this update and a low price of $19.99. You have to buy it through the App Store.
Can your Mac run Mountain Lion?
Mountain Lion doesn’t support all Macs. Apple has clearly defined which machines can and cannot run Mountain Lion. Since you buy Mountain Lion through the App Store, Apple will tell you if your machine can run Mountain Lion or not before you spent $19.99 on it.
Mountain Lion will not run on 32-bit machines, it requires a 64-bit machine.
Macs that will support OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
- MacBook Pro – 13″ from mid 2009 or later, 15″ from late 2007 and newer, 17″ from late 2007 and newer
- MacBook Air – late 2008 and newer
- iMac – models from mid 2007 and newer
- MacBook – 13″ aluminum from 2008, 13″ from 2009 and newer
- Mac Mini – early 2009 and newer
- Mac Pro – early 2008 models and newer
- XServe – early 2009 models and newer
Macs that are NOT expected to support OS X Mountain Lion
- Anything with an Intel GMA 950 or x3100 integrated graphics card
- Anything with an ATI Radeon X1600
- MacBook models released prior to 2008
- Mac Mini released prior to 2007
- iMac models released prior to 2007
- Original MacBook Air
If your machine is supported, you shouldn’t have a problem downloading and installing Mountain Lion.
iCloud is Apple’s replacement for MobileMe. It syncs all your documents, calendar items, pictures, and contacts between all your devices that you use iCloud with, such as your Mac, iPad, and iPhone. What this means is that if you take a picture with your iPhone and sync it with iCloud that has Photo Stream turned on, it will show up on your Mac and your iPad immediately, so long as they’re connected to the internet. iCloud also syncs your mail, your notes, and your Safari bookmarks.
Along with data synchronization, iCloud also allows you to turn on “Find My Mac” which gives you the location of your Mac if you have WiFi turned on. Since Macs don’t have GPS built in, Find My Mac uses a system where it looks for MAC (Media Access Control) address of a device connected to the same WiFi network the Mac is on to give you an approximation of where the Mac is located. Find My Mac requires a recovery drive for it to work.
Several years ago, Apple created its own instant messaging app called iChat. The new Messages app replaces it, by adding in the ability to use the desktop app to talk with people that use iMessage on their phones. Not only can you do that, but if your Mac was off, when you turn it on and fire up the Messages app, all your messages are synced with your Mac. Messages has all the features of iMessage on the iPhone and the iPad-you can see when someone’s typing to you, and send images.
If you want to use Emoji with iMessage, go to “Special Character” under the Edit menu, and select “Emoji” on the left hand side. There, you’ll see Emojis that you can send. Just click on them with your mouse and they’ll be added to your chat.
Apple added a slick addition to Mountain Lion. In the upper right hand corner of your screen, you’ll see the icon of a bulleted list. Click that, and your desktop slides to the left, revealing a notification center which holds notifications from apps that support it. The built-in apps that support it are Mail, Twitter, Messages, iCal, the App Store, and Facetime. Developers can hook into this system for their own apps. When an app wants to notify you, a floating rectangle is displayed in the upper right hand corner of your screen with the notification inside it. You can click that notification to bring the notifying app to the front, or let it fade out after a short time and get it from the Notification Center later.
While OS X hasn’t had nearly the number of viruses and trojans that Windows has had, it doesn’t mean the Mac isn’t vulnerable to hackers. In order to alleviate this possibility, Apple now gives users the ability to run trusted apps on their Mac. There are three settings the user can choose: Mac App Store only, Mac App Store and identified developers, and Anywhere. The first two options mean that no rogue apps can execute. A signed app is one that the developer has digitally put their signature on. If something goes wrong with an app, it can be traced back to that developer. The second option, “Mac App Store and identified developers”, is set by default. The “Anywhere” option allows users to run apps they got from any location. This is the least secure setting.
I suspect most people will want to keep that second option as the default since not all developers want to go through the Mac App Store. Developers don’t have to, but certain rules are placed on apps that do go through the Mac App Store.
The Gatekeeper setting is under System Preferences->Security & Privacy->General.
VIPs in Mail
If you’re someone who gets a deluge of email every day, you may want to use Apple’s new ability to assign certain people as VIPs. This means that when emails from those people come in, Mail will bring it to your attention that these emails have arrived.
One thing I like to do is share links of articles I found with people on Twitter. The manual process isn’t so bad; you have to put the cursor in the address field, select all, and then paste the copied URL into Twitter. Now, you can send links directly from Safari using the Sharing icon. When you click it, you can share the link via Twitter, Mail, or Message, as well as add it to your reading list or add it as a bookmark. Apple says that Facebook support is coming. Google+ support would be very welcome as well.
One other way you can share images is through the Finder. When you have a Finder window open and an image file highlighted, you can share that image using Email, Message, AirDrop, Twitter, and Flickr.
If there’s one thing any computer user has seen over the years, it’s the need to update your operating system when you first wake your computer. Power Nap now updates your Mac while it’s sleeping so that when you wake your Mac, it’s already updated.
Apple seems to be taking iOS and OS X and slowly merging the experience of the two together. Whether you like that or not, Mountain Lion does pack enough features to make it worth the cost and should make anyone who’s upgrading very happy. However, if you depend on any kind of drivers, make sure they work in Mountain Lion before doing an upgrade.