Having a new operating system is always exciting, especially for us geeky types. You always expect the best. Even if you don’t get it. But Apple’s latest Mountain Lion operating system doesn’t disappoint. It brings Mac OS X a little closer to the mobile iOS while adding some useful new features. Check it out.
AirPlay is definitely one of the most exciting new features. If you have a newer Mac and an Apple TV, you can wirelessly stream video from your computer to your HD TV. It is easy to set up, and works like a charm. Less than five minutes after the installation of Mountain Lion on my Mac mini, I was able to watch several episodes of “The Office” streamed from NBC.com, without a hiccup.
There is one large prerequisite for using AirPlay. In order for AirPlay to work, the processor must have a hardware-accelerated video compression technology called QuickSync, which was not introduced by Intel until 2011 in its Sandy Bridge processors.
Apple reps simply say that AirPlay requires a second-generation Apple TV or later and supports the following Mac models:
- iMac (Mid 2011 or newer)
- Mac mini (Mid 2011 or newer)
- MacBook Air (Mid 2011 or newer)
- MacBook Pro (Early 2011 or newer)
That leaves those who purchased computers on the cusp of these dates unable to easily determine if their machines will or will not support AirPlay.
The second exciting feature in Mountain Lion is the ability to do voice dictation in any text-accepting document. Just start Word, Notes, Pages, or your email program and press the FN key twice. Then talk into your microphone. Press Done and your words appear on the page. In my testing, it recognized my words with exceptional accuracy. Unlike most other voice recognition programs, the text does not appear as you are speaking, but only when you press Done. This is a little disconcerting at first, but I quickly got used to it.
Mountain Lion is completely integrated with iCloud. It also integrates with the iOS platforms quite well. With iMessage, you can send messages to anyone who has an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 5 or later, or any other Mac with Mountain Lion. The new Notification screen is coordinated with the information from your other devices. Notes and Calendar also have better syncing capabilities.
I’ve only been using Mountain Lion for a week, but I have already noticed several other improvements like search fields that have been added to Launchpad and Dashboard. Just about every program has a new Share button that makes sending things to your friends much easier whether they are on social media sites or email. You can now use Multi-Touch gestures to switch between tabs in Safari. Scroll bars in Mountain Lion expand when you hover the cursor over them, making scrolling easier.
Apple touts the fact that Mountain Lion has more than 200 new features. I keep stumbling upon them as I work and I am happy that they have made this operating system just a little easier to use. Apple has also kept the cost of the upgrade down. You get a lot for your $20 investment … and you can install it on up to three Macs that you own.
Product: Mountain Lion Update
Platform: Mac only
Format: Download only
Where: The Mac App Store http://www.apple.com/osx/apps/app-store.html