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Apple's OS X Mountain Lion Roars
The astute amongst you will be aware that Apple released the latest version of its desktop operating system last week, OS X Mountain Lion. With a host of new features and improvements over Lion, it also adds many of the popular features of iOS such as notification centre and voice dictation. But the question on everybody's lips will be is it any good? After nearly a week of extensive use, we give our lowdown on the new big cat...
Digital Download Only
Mountain Lion was released last Wednesday 25th July for the very reasonable price of just £13.99, which allows you to install a copy on every single Mac that you own. Apple has now completely eschewed distribution by physical media, making it a digital download only. In fact, you can't even buy a copy on USB stick any more either. Note however that once you've downloaded Mountain Lion it's simple enough to make an install disk.
Installation is a Breeze
The first thing you'll notice about Mountain Lion is just how easy the installation process is. The whole things takes between 30 and 60 minutes depending on your computer's speed and whether you have a solid state drive (SSD) installed. Once it's finished and you've logged in, you'll see that some of the existing apps have been renamed in line with their iOS counterparts - iCal becomes Calendar and Address Book becomes Contacts, for example.
In terms of apps, a couple of noteworthy additions stand out, such as the new Messages app which lets you send messages between any Apple device over your Internet connection without incurring SMS charges. The old notes have now been removed from Mail and have their own app (complete with fake leather and torn off pages, which might not be to everyone's taste), and reminders have been removed from iCal and have their own dedicated app which looks nearly identical to the iOS version.
Perhaps the most useful and intuitive change in Mountain Lion is Notification Centre, which slides in from the right of the screen via a two finger swipe, and let's you view all your reminders, emails and much more as banners or alerts. For example, in Mail 6.0 you can use the new VIP category to organise your contacts more efficiently and set the notifications to VIP only, which means any of your important contacts will automatically generate a notification that slides in from the right of your screen. It's a great way to keep on top of all those alerts and mails, and iOS users will instantly feel right at home.
Safari has also had an overhaul in terms of speed (it's lightning fast) and functionality. The search bar has finally become a smart search that looks through history, bookmarks and your favourite search engine, and there's a new cloud button which will sync your open tabs across your Apple devices - but only when iOS 6 is released in the autumn. Applications such as Pages and Keynote now have the ability to save and access documents in the cloud, which makes it much more simple than synchronisation through iTunes.cIf you have a newer Mac and an Apple TV, you'll also be able to send your entire desktop to your HDTV through AirPlay, rather than just content played in iTunes.
Lastly, many of the annoying bugs and issues with Lion have finally be fixed in Mountain Lion, and the whole thing just feels that much more snappy and responsive. This reviewer also upgraded memory to 8 GB and installed an SSD so it's just like having a new computer all over again. In summary, Mountain Lion is definitely a worthy upgrade, especially at the price. It's already well on its way to becoming one of the fastest downloaded operating systems in history, but what's your opinion and will you be installing it? Let us know in the comments or over on our Facebook page...