OS X. 10.8 Mountain Lion Price: $19.99 via Apple App Store Rating: Strong Recommend* By now you've probably slapped down the $19.99 required to upgrade your Mac to Apple's latest and greatest--OS X Mountain Lion. If you haven't, you should - I've been using it for the past week, and I have to say, I'm impressed with many of the improvements and features. Here are my top 5 reasons to upgrade, and my overall impressions of Apple's latest operating system. 1. Speed If anything, Mountain Lion is fast. Even on my older MacBook Pro, it's much faster than the previous feline operating system incarnation, Lion. Specifically, Safari. I don't know how Apple did it, but web pages load blazingly fast--it's actually a pleasure to watch each page load in Safari. I've always been Safari users for its general zippiness as a browser, but if you're a skeptic, give Safari a try again. Like Chrome, the new version of Safari searches and accepts URLs from the same bar. I imagine some of this kind of streamlining really gives the browser a boost. 2. iOS integration There are a million apps in the app store for taking notes, but when it comes down to it, Apple's own Notes app has always been the easiest. After all, it's on your iPhone no matter what, and its a natural go-to for things like grocery lists. The only downside--syncing with Mail on your desktop was so clunky.
Mountain Lion remedies this beautifully with its new Notes app. This one has been such a long time coming! I'm not trying to neglect the new Messages and Reminder apps - I just happen to be especially pleased to see Notes. iOS integration goes beyond just apps though - even tabs sync between iOS devices, and they do it so seamlessly. 3. Sharing This feature might seem small, but it's so useful. If you're an ardent Flickr or Twitter user, all of Apple's native applications now support sharing to these services. Share from Safari, Preview, or straight from the finder. Even if you aren't the biggest social networker, you can also easily share documents and links via e-mail or the Messages app (the latest iteration of iChat). It's the easy integration that I love, and I can't wait to see Facebook added to the mix this fall.
4. Airplay The ability to Airplay everything from our Macs to our AppleTV is probably our favorite new feature in Mountain Lion. Say goodbye to clunky apps like Airfoil and plug-ins like Soundflower. And, unlike Airplay from your iPad, your screen isn't always letterboxed. You can finally stream video from your Mac in fullscreen on your TV. Unfortunately, this feature comes with one major it only works on newer Macs, from 2011 or later. But, if you at least have an Intel Mac you can give Air Parrot a try. It's a $10 application that makes AirPlay mirroring available to older Macs with an Intel Processor. 5. Notifications Notifications in Mountain Lion work just as you'd expect--they pop up on your system just as they do in iOS, only they're so much more useful. We love seeing all our events, reminders, and important e-mails right in a single sidebar. The larger screens on my Mac makes the feature so much more useful than in iOS, since you can work and view notifications at the same time.
Mountain Lion features over 200 new features according to Apple, and honestly, I probably haven't had the opportunity to use half of them. But, that's what Apple does best--it adds new features to what you're already working with, without skipping a beat. Mountain Lion is the same old OS X we're all accustomed to, just improved with all the edges polished. Some users may be left wanting more, but for $19.99, I certainly can appreciate all the new features Apple has provided without turning the user experience upside down. The only thing we don't like about Mountain Lion is that it isolates older Mac users just a little more. I wish features like Airplay Mirroring and Power Nap worked on older computers. Power Nap, which updates applications while your Mac is asleep, requires a Mac with built-in flash storage (i.e., a MacBook Air). Airplay Mirroring requires a computer from 2011 or later (with a Sandy Bridge processor). I can understand why these features might need extra hardware, but I still can't help but wish they worked on all Macs--especially since they're among Mountain Lion's best new features. Bottom line: For $19.99, you get a lot of bang for your buck with Mountain Lion. Upgrade for the speed boost alone--stat!
Pros: Faster than previous version of OS X overall, huge steps forward in iOS integration for iPhone and iPad users, nice social networking and sharing integration, lots of new features for a reasonable price Cons: No huge differences from OS X 10.7 Lion, some features, like Airplay Mirroring and Power Nap, don't work on older Macs. Our Ratings: Strong Recommend* Recommend Weak Recommend Don't Recommend(image: Ambika Subramony) Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was purchased by reviewer for testing and review purposes.