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I, like millions of Apple fanboys around the planet yesterday, downloaded the latest version of Apple’s OS X, which has been dubbed Mountain Lion.  For a measly $19.99 how could I not?  I can’t express how much I appreciate these OS upgrades on the Mac platform compared to doing the same on a Windows machine.  Anyone who knows how to download an app can install the latest Apple OS X versions in Lion, and most recently Mountain Lion, which should speak volumes about its ease-of-use.

I’ve been running Mountain Lion for a full 24 hours now, and for the most part I love the new features that it has brought to my 2011 13″ MacBook Pro.  Outside of a few strange issues in Safari I haven’t come across any deal breaking bugs.  I wish Safari 6.0 was working the way I know it can (odd download errors, problem with a few WP plugins now), but since I can’t find anyone else with the same issue, I’m guessing it’s my own problem to deal with, so I won’t sh*t on it.

With that being said I’d like to briefly touch on 5 of the best new features that OS X Mountain Lion has to offer.  Without further adieu I present my Top 5 Mountain Lion features below.  You’ve been wanting to know if you’re the only one having random Safari problems…

Notifications

One of the most significant changes in Mountain Lion is the inclusion of iOS-like notifications via a new hidden panel on the right hand side of your desktop.  You can pretty much configure notifications for any app that you have installed on your machine, and depending on how you set them up you’ll get alerts, pop-ups, sounds, etc. each time one of these apps has an update.  For example, if you’re an iMessage user you’ll now get notified of new texts just like you do on the iPhone and iPad platforms.  The same can be said for other productivity apps like Reminders, Calendars, and Mail.

Mac Notifications panel

The Notification panel can be quickly accessed by either clicking on the new top bar menu item for it, or by sliding two fingers across the trackpad while starting to the right side of it.  I appreciate these new notifications because they keep me on task.  When I’m cranking away on my MBP I sometimes enter a trance-like state, and lose track of my daily responsibilities.  Now if I zone out I’m sure to be snapped back into reality when one of my new notification pop-ups displays in front of my eyeballs.

Dictation

Mountain Lion brings voice dictation to the Mac platform, and while it’s not as robust as Siri, it’s still a cool speech-to-text feature.  With the new Dictation app I can press the “fn” key twice, and a little microphone will pop up to record my speech.  Once I’m done it’ll then translate that speech into text.  I tried using this feature to write a full post yesterday, but as you can see here it didn’t pan out too well.  Although, I can really see this new functionality shining for shorter text entries such as Twitter and Facebook updates.  It also works well when you’re just doing some chicken scratch type of note taking, or creating a new reminder.

New Productivity Apps

Most of these apps were already shoehorned into other apps prior to Mountain Lion’s release, but now apps like Notes and Reminders get their very own place on the OS X stage.  I love having Notes as a standalone app, and not mixed in with my Mail client.  The new Notes app allows for better organization with note folders, and individual notes can even be popped out into their own windows now to view multiple notes at the same time.

New Notes app with a popped out note window

I also appreciate having the Reminders app as a standalone experience from iCal.  It now looks and behaves just like the Reminders app in iOS 5, and now that the Mac platform supports notifications, I can get reminded of “to-do” items from my MBP.  I’m not claiming that these new productivity apps will turn me into the Internet’s hardest working man (I already am damn it), but I appreciate the fact that they’ve been overhauled for a better integrated experience in OS X.

iCloud

Just like the new productivity apps, iCloud has been in OS X in some capacity before Mountain Lion, but now it’s full blown.  Any app that supports iCloud will now open with a special window that will allow you to work on other iCloud documents, or to browse to docs residing on your HDD.  I don’t use Apple’s version of MS Office, but I’m a big TextEdit user, and it now supports text documents in the cloud, so I can keep my “go-to” text files up-to-date on all of my devices (note this will really shine once iOS 6 comes out, or if you have more than one Mac).  Whenever an OS update adds something that’s only going to help protect my assets and hard work, I can’t complain.  iCloud for Mountain Lion is a win no matter how you spin it.

iCloud is now fully integrated into OS X

Safari 6

I’ll be honest with this last new feature, I am experiencing some odd issues with Safari 6.0, but I think they’re isolated, so that sucks for me, but it’s good for you.  The most notable bonus in the new Safari is its speed gains.  Up until this upgrade I was being driven to my wit’s end with Safari and it hogging my resources.  Sometimes it would take upwards of two minutes to fully open tabs from my last browsing session.  On top of that the old Safari would even chug while loading certain websites.  This is no longer the case thanks to 6.0’s nitro-charged javascript and CSS functionalities (probably why some stuff isn’t working for me).  My tabs open faster than ever, and every bit of my browsing experience seems quicker.

The speed gain is great, but Apple didn’t stop there.  They’ve also added a new and improved “Reader” option, which allows you to strip certain website’s down to just the article content.  From there you can save the document to read later, print it, or even share it.  There’s also a new tab view feature that allows you to pop out all of your open tabs into scrollable individual windows within Safari itself.  It’s similar to doing the four finger swipe on your desktop to scroll between open apps.  Last but not least Safari 6.0 has also added iCloud support for syncing open tabs across your Apple devices (soon to be iDevices with iOS 6), and a new “Share” button for creating bookmarks, emailing, or saving web pages for later.

The improved Web Reader and new tab windows look in Safari 6.0

Final Verdict

Downloading OS X Mountain Lion should be a no brainer for all Apple users.  It’s cheap and easy to install, and it adds over 200 new features.  The five I listed above are the most notable, but if you want to dig into the other 195 you can check out this official link.  The only thing that has tarnished this upgrade for me is some odd behavior in Safari 6.0.  For some reason certain .zip files won’t download for me, and one of my WP plugins won’t work properly.  Nothing is straight up busted, but something is definitely off for me.  Considering I haven’t found a single other user who has the same issues I’m guessing it’s my own problem to deal with, so by all means get to downloading OS X Mountain Lion ASAP!

Download Link for OS X Mountain Lion

 

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Tags : First ImpressionsNew FeaturesOS X Mountain LionTop 5 Lists
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he's not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB's Star Wars Time podcast show.