Mountain Lion

Mac OS X, 10.8. The iterative update to Apple’s OS X, 10.7. I have been using the beta build of Mountain Lion for a long time now and I think that there are some really interesting things taking place in Mountain Lion.

Some of those items:

  • iCal becomes ‘Calendar’.
  • Address Book becomes ‘Contacts’.
  • Save As makes a guest appearance.
  • Tweeting is a part of the OS.
  • Omnibar.

The biggest change though: the completely useless Notification Center. So let’s talk about that.

The Notification Center serves two purposes:

  1. To notify you as the user of events that occurred on your Mac, or reminders that you have set.
  2. To notify others of things you want them to know (via Tweeting and such).

This is obviously an addition made in response to the overwhelming demand for a notification center on iOS, but the problem is that I find it completely unnecessary in OS X. The reason I find it unnecessary: there aren’t any notifications I get on my Mac that I would need to look at some point later in time, which is not the case on iOS.

I can see upcoming events in the Notification Center, but Fantastical serves that role, and does a better job. I can see recent emails, but that’s only practical if I get a few emails — besides theres a numbered badge on the Mail icon (and I don’t use the inbox to count “new” messages).

I can see Twitter mentions or DMs, the latter of which is actually nice — except that when I click it Safari opens Twitter.com, even though Twitter for Mac and Osfoora are there. That pretty much makes this irrelevant for me.

Aside from that, there’s nothing in the notification center that is worth it. Now you just have another menubar icon (to the right of Spotlight) that you cannot remove.

Hopefully third party developers will find a way to make this a useful feature, but I am just not seeing it at all.

What is nice about notifications though, is that you no longer need Growl to have nice notifications roll down from the top of the screen. Just like in iOS, you can also control which apps can send notifications in System Preferences — this is actually useful.

However this could have been added without a full notification center. Much like on iOS I spend a few moments every so often to clear out the Mac notification center — not once have I seen a notification that I had missed, or one that I was glad was ‘archived’ somewhere.

The difference between Mac notifications and iPhone notifications is that Mac notifications are really only relevant when they happen if I am at my Mac. Mountain Lion doesn’t treat these notifications like that though, they are treated as just as important as the ones I get on my iPhone. That just seems off to me.

Things to Not Complain About

Now that my main complaint is out of the way, here is a quick rundown on my thoughts of various things in Mountain Lion, in no particular order.

  • I like that iCal is now just Calendar, but I wish that more than just a name change had occurred. Even so, the naming is better — so too with AddressBook becoming Contacts.
  • The omnibar in Safari is something that takes a couple of hours to get used to, but once you are used to it there is no going back. I really dig it.
  • In Finder, when you delete an item the next item in the view is then selected. Previously in 10.7, when you deleted an item in any view, no other items would be selected. This is an amazingly nice touch if, like me, you often use Quick Look to peruse the files sitting in a folder, while hitting CMD+Delete to get rid of the ones you no longer want. Now you don’t have to find the spot you were in, you can just keep on going.
  • AirPlay — this was a finally feature for me and almost eliminates a need for a Mac mini connected to my TV. I haven’t made the full on switch yet, but it’s only a matter of time at this point until most video I play on my TV is streamed from my Mac and not the Mac mini attached to the TV.
  • CMD+Shift+Opt+S, welcome back Save As…
  • Share sheets: just like in iOS, you can now hit a button in Safari to share the page you are looking at. This is great for Tweeting links to things you are reading, but it seems far less useful on the Mac than on iOS. (Pro tip: SHIFT+CMD+D sends the tweet.)
  • Dashboard: amazingly Dashboard is still alive. I thought for sure it would quietly go to a nice farm where it can run free, but nope it’s still here. Good deal too, I use it a lot.
  • Dictation is going to be the hidden gem for many people. I use the piss out of it on iOS and I bet I will end up using it a fair bit on the Mac too. No, it’s not great if others can hear you, but the implementation is done well and the service just seems to work.
  • Inline download progress indicators in Finder, this is one of those: why didn’t we have this all along items. Very nice to not have to jump back to Safari to see how far along the file is.
  • Speaking of Finder, there’s one more: you can now Encrypt any disk from Finder. Go encrypt all your disks.

Lastly, two items that I have yet to try but hope they work as advertised:

  • Power Nap: where your Mac can do stuff even when in sleep. (Think backups and email checking.) If this works I will be really happy about it.
  • Multiple Time Machine backup locations. I really hope this works, because it’s annoying to have your machine not backing up when you are at work, or home, so here’s hoping this just works.

Buy It

The update is $19.99 and I can’t see a reason to not update. Apps are going to quickly start to support 10.8 first and assume that a $20 update price isn’t too much for the majority of Mac users to pay. There’s far more good than bad in this update and if you are an iOS fan you are really going to like some of the changes — if you aren’t, then the changes are easy enough to ignore that they shouldn’t bug you much.

Originally posted for members on: July 25, 2012
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