Mountain Lion Roars!

Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8)

Apple has announced details of Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8), with Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing saying that “The Mac is on a roll, growing faster than the PC for 23 straight quarters, and with Mountain Lion things get even better.”

The developer preview of Mountain Lion has just been released to developers and has over 100 new features, including many brought from the iPad and iOS mobile operating system, according to Apple.

These features include:

  1. iCloud – In OS X Mountain Lion, sign in once with your Apple ID and iCloud is automatically set up across your Mac.
  2. Messages – Messages does everything iChat does, and so much more. For starters, it comes with iMessage. And just like iMessage in iOS, it lets you send unlimited messages to anyone on a Mac or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.
  3. Reminders – Make as many lists as you need and easily add to them. Set due dates and you’ll get alerts as deadlines approach. Check items off your lists as you go and keep track of what you’ve completed. And to be sure you don’t forget anything, iCloud keeps your reminders up to date on your Mac, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.
  4. Notes – Notes in OS X Mountain Lion is designed for whatever’s on your mind. Think it up. Jot it down. Make it even more noteworthy with photos, images, and attachments. You can add, delete, and flip through your notes or do a quick search. Use the Share button to send your notes to friends or colleagues with Mail or Messages. Pin important notes to your desktop so they’re easy to get to. And take them with you everywhere. Notes works with iCloud, so when you create or edit a note on your Mac, it automatically updates on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
  5. Notification Center  – Notification banners appear on your desktop and disappear quickly so they don’t interrupt what you’re doing. Swipe to the left, and you’ll see all your notifications in a simple, ordered list. So you’ll always know what’s up as soon as it comes up.
  6. Share Sheets – You’ll find the Share button in many OS X Mountain Lion apps. It’s the new, easy way to spread the word — links, photos, and videos, too. Send links from Safari. Send your notes via Mail and Messages. Post photos to Flickr. Send videos to Vimeo. And tweet just about anything.
  7. Twitter – Tweet links and photos directly from Safari, iPhoto, or Photo Booth with the new Tweet Sheet. Tweet comments and add locations. And when someone mentions you in a tweet or sends you a direct message, you’ll get a Twitter notification right then and there.
  8. Game Center – Friends will find you fast, and you’ll track them down easily. Get a multiplayer game started or go up against people you don’t know. Check out leader-boards and see how your high score ranks against opponents’ scores around the world. And discover new games based on the ones you and your friends already play.
  9. AirPlay Mirroring – With AirPlay Mirroring, you can stream what’s on your Mac to your HDTV via Apple TV. Show web pages and videos to friends on the couch. Share lessons with a classroom. Present to a conference room. It’s a big deal for your Mac. And for everyone around it.
  10. Gatekeeper – Gatekeeper in OS X Mountain Lion makes the Mac safer than ever. It helps prevent you from unknowingly downloading and installing malicious software. And it gives you control over which applications to download and run on your Mac.

There is a Beta of Messages available for download from the Apple site but when I tried there was a message stating that due to some issues with the application that downloads were suspended for the time being. No information was given as to the actual problem so I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.

As to when we can expect to get our hands on Mountain Lion, we are looking at late summer this year. Price TBC.

Lion: First Impressions

OS X Lion revealed at WWDCI took the plunge and installed Lion the day it became available. Normally, I do everything by the book and backup everything onto an external drive (usually cloning the whole drive, just in case) as well as important files onto DVD.

This time I took the totally rash (some may say reckless) course and just installed Lion without any backups. Now before you start commenting and telling me what a total idiot I am let me make one or two things clear. First, all my important work files are backup in Dropbox. Secondly, I have numerous DVDs full of my image files. Thirdly, well, thirdly I just trusted Apple. Yes I know that’s a bit rash but hey, they have had at least 18 months to get this thing right and all the pre-release comments from developers was that everything was going smoothly and no big problems had arisen.

So, how did it all go you are asking? Well, in simple terms it was totally problem free. Having purchased Lion in the App Store and clicked the ‘Install’ button I just left it for a few hours to do its stuff. As it happened, I had a meeting I needed to go to that evening so when I returned it was all done and dusted. One thing that did surprise me about the whole thing was that unlike previous upgrades there was no ‘Previous System’ folder. Everything was as before, except that instead of Snow Leopard I now had the Lion interface to get used too.

Also, apart from the whole thing being so trouble-free, it also took just a few hours rather than a whole day to do. No more copying files back into the new set-up etc. Just carry on as normal.

Also, the new scrolling didn’t bother me, I just adapted quickly to it and have decided to stick with it. Those bloggers who make a point of changing settings to go back to the old way of doing things, well my view is that they should live in the present and go with the flow. Its easy and after a while you don’t even notice.

Other positives are that everything seems a bit quicker though this could just be a subjective thing because of the novelty of having a new OS. Certainly, Finder seems quicker and once indexing had completed, searches in Spotlight seem to be much quicker.

So, all in all, first impressions are excellent. Apple deserves a big slap on the back for making the whole process so smooth and trouble-free. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the cost either. Just £21 for the right to install Lion on up to 5 authorised Macs is a steal. Well done Apple!

Lion OS X available for mere $29.99 from App Store. Arrives July.

OS X Lion revealed at WWDCFinally, Lion OS X was unveiled after much fanfare and expectation at Apple’s WWDC on the 6th June. Perhaps the greatest surprise was the price and the fact that it will be available only though the App Store. The download will be 4GB and you won’t need to reboot! The price will be $29.99 (£20.99) and you will be able to install it all your Macs that are authorised on your Apple account. You will also be able to purchase the Server version for just $49.99 (UK price TBC), a huge reduction on the previous price of $999!

The next iteration of OS X comes with 250+ improvements (though most are minor tweaks). Here is the most important ones (as chosen by Apple):

OS X LIon's new featuresHighlights look to be Mission Control, Multi-Touch Gestures and Resume.

Mission Control:

Mission Control brings together full-screen apps, Dashboard, Exposé and Spaces in one new feature that gives you a bird’s-eye view of everything on your system. With a single swipe on the trackpad, your desktop zooms out to Mission Control. Think of it as the hub of your system: view everything and go anywhere with just a click.

Mission ControlApple has brought together the functionality of Exposé, Dashboard, Spaces and full-screen apps into one place. By using the trackpad or the Mission Control icon in the Dock, you can zoom your desktop and voila, the Mission Control GUI appears! nWith Mission Control, a row of thumbnails appears at the top of your screen. Icons represent Dashboard, desktop spaces and your full-screen apps. The lower part of the screen shows an Exposé view of the open windows on your desktop grouped by app. To get where you want to go, just swipe left or right. Or click a thumbnail. Simple!

You can create new ‘spaces’ easily by just dragging an app to the top row of icons on the screen or by clicking on the + icon in the top row. If you want to move windows to a new space then just drag it from the Exposé area to the icon at the top for that particular space.

Multi-Touch Gestures:

Multi-touch gestures allows you to tap, scroll, pinch and swipe to navigate around your Mac in an intuitive manner.

Multi-Touch Gestures

With Multi-Touch Gestures, when you scroll down on your trackpad or Magic Mouse, your document scrolls down. When you scroll up, your web page scrolls up. When you swipe left, your photos move left. In addition, Lion introduces new animations, making it all seem more fluid and enhancing the whole experience. In addition, in OS X Lion, the scroll bar appears only when you scroll. So it doesn’t get in the way of the content on the screen.


Apps resume when launched

When you launch an application, it appears exactly as you left it. All the open windows, palettes and panes — even the cursor position and highlighted text — come back just as they were.

System resume on restart

When you restart your computer, OS X Lion pauses your system so everything comes back just as you left it. All the apps that were running reopen, and windows appear exactly as they were, so you can begin working immediately.

Clean start

Lion lets you choose a clean start, so you return to a fresh desktop after you restart your Mac.

All in all, the next version of OS X looks like it will improve what is already the best user-experience beyond anything in Windows 7 or Linux. Also, the gradual alignment of features in OS X and iOS should help make the whole experience of switching between your Mac, iPhone and iPad all that much more smoother. This can only be a good thing and may actually help sell more Macs. Good news all round basically.

iCloud – could it be the replacement for MobileMe?

Rumours that MobileMe is about to be replaced by a free ‘in the cloud’ service have been around for a while now and I have reported these in several previous posts, along with my thoughts on the whole topic.

The latest rumours widely reported are that something called ‘Castle’ (possibly a code name – bets are open on ‘iCloud’ as the actual name) showing up in the latest developer preview for Lion, the next generation of the OS X operating system for the Mac. Apparently, references to “Complete your Castle upgrade,”  and “Click OK to open System Preferences and complete your upgrade from MobileMe to Castle.” have been discovered by the French blog Consomac.

If this all proves to be correct then we may at last see Apple move into the Cloud in a big way. Hopefully, those of us who have supported Apple with our not insignificant subscription revenue for, frankly, what has been a somewhat mediocre service, over the years, will see an improved service, hopefully for free.

Castle in the Clouds