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24 Hours with OS X Mountain Lion

I just clocked 24 hours with OS X Lion of the Mountain. The 4GB download took about 40 minutes on my 28Mbps connection and then another 40 minutes to install. All of my data was preserved properly in the upgrade, but I did have a full Time Machine backup from the night before, just in case.

Here are a few impressions of apps and little things I’ve played with:

Messages

Despite its inclusion in Mountain Lion, I’d say that Messages is still very much a beta. I’m still seeing the same message delivery delays (ranging from minutes to hours) and the same weird unread badges that never, ever seem to go away. Even Siri in its beta state is more reliable than Messages.

To be fair, part of this really has to do with how sloppy iMessage is as a messaging system. I’ve had message delivery delays on both my iPhone and iPad ever since the launch of iOS 5, but I’m disappointed to find out that the release of Messages on Mountain Lion didn’t finally fix the problem.

Here’s one very cool feature in Messages, though: screen sharing. Try it with a trusted friend and marvel at how quickly your computers connect, and then at how quickly your friend will start remotely deleting your files…just because she can.

Reminders

Reminders is another new app on Mountain Lion – and it’s strangely more powerful than its iOS counterparts. You’ve got access to all the due dates, time and geo-fenced alerts, and priorities that you have on the iPhone and iPad – but it’s all just better and more accessible. The numerous on/off toggles just make more sense when you have a mouse or trackpad handy, and the ability to see your task notes right inside of the list is a no-brainer that should really be included in iOS 6.

I’d say that Reminders really could become a lot of people’s go-to task app, especially since it syncs beautifully in the background across all Apple devices on modern firmwares. The only downside to Reminders for now? The terrible default alert sound, which I can’t seem to change.

Notes

The Notes functionality of OS X, which syncs with the iOS Notes app of the same name, has been removed from Mail.app and plunked into its own space on the Mac dock. This is Notes as you know it from your iPhone or iPad, but with image attachment capability and extra fonts. Font changes seem to stick on the iOS side, but image attachments show up as a useless paper clip. Very strange.

Notification Center

Notification Center on the Mac feels much more fleshed out than it does on the iPad (where it merely feels tacked on). If you’re used to Growl, then this is just like it – but copied by Apple. 🙂

A two finger swipe to the left at the edge of the trackpad will summon your notification panel, and a quick swipe right will dismiss it. Just like in iOS, there are preferences for banners, alerts, badges, and sounds for each app that would deem to keep you alerted of things.

You can tweet straight from Notification Center after adding your Twitter account to Mail, Contacts, and Calendars in Preferences (hat tip to the Ars Technica’s Notification Center post), and you can toggle all notifications off for the day by swiping upwards while the panel is open.

Safari

Safari 6 rocks my socks. I love the unified address and search bar, I love the new pinch-out gesture for switching tabs, and I’m really intrigued by the offline Reading List, which caches entire web pages for reading later (very useful for complex websites that you’d rather not parse for text). I’m also really looking forward to iOS 6 so that I can take full advantage of iCloud Tabs on my iPhone and iPad.

Documents in the Cloud

Documents in the Cloud is confusing because I’m used to the paradigms of apps like Dropbox, which are very obviously computer folders that sync with the Fluffy Internet Cloud Above. In fact, I’d argue that iCloud really should be centralized like Dropbox, just because the latter seems so much easier to use.

Unfortunately, Apple really likes thinking in terms of apps and app data, and so it hides the individual iCloud folders deep, deep, deep in your /Library folder, where you will never find them by yourself. So while you can conduct a search for the actual folder that holds your iA Writer or Preview files, it’s really much faster to just use the corresponding apps. The “Open” dialogue in Mountain Lion has been modified to treat “iCloud” and “On My Mac” as if they’re two different things (even though iCloud files are also kept on your Mac). For apps like Preview I’ll likely keep files on my Mac, but for apps like iA Writer, iCloud now feels reliable enough to use.

Dictation

Dictation is even better than I expected, but it isn’t active by default. You have to launch preferences and turn it on yourself. I set my dictation to start with a double tap of the function key and it’s working beautifully so far. As many others have noted, your fans (along with any active audio) will pause automatically during dictation. It’s the little things, right?


Those are all of my notes from the past 24 hours with Mountain Lion. If you’ve got any little OS X 10.8 observations to add, hit us up in the comments!

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  • impaler

    Downloaded and installed last night on my 2011 MacBook Air. Can’t wait to spend some time with it and see how it goes. So far, blown away from Safari 6 also.

  • Everything Safari does, Chrome has done for a few years now… have you used it before? You could’ve had your socks rocked a while sooner ;o)

    • Oh, but there’s one very major feature missing in Chrome for me: the dynamic zoom. I really, really like that for web pages and no other browser seems to be able to do it (even with extensions).