Mac OS Mountain Lion roars; well worth $20 upgrade
NEW YORK (AP) — I didn't need to spend a lot of time with the new Mac operating system to see that phones and tablet computers have won out over personal computers at Apple.
Mobile devices are already responsible for the bulk of Apple's sales and profits. Now, Apple is making the new Mac system even more like the iOS software that powers its iPhones and iPads. It's also casually dropping the "Mac" name from the Mac OS X operating software, though computers will still be called Macs, not "Super-sized iPads."
The new system, formally OS X 10.8 and dubbed Mountain Lion, went on sale Wednesday as a $19.99 download from Apple's App Store. It builds on the previous system, Lion, which came out last July.
Mountain Lion is made for a world where your computer is just one of your computing devices, along with your iPhone and your iPad. Apple wants to make it easier to switch from one to the other, several times a day.
It's already easy to switch between iPhone and iPad. For instance, songs and apps you buy on an iPad will automatically pop up on your iPhone through Apple's iCloud online-storage service. Lion has some iCloud features, but Mountain Lion really brings the Mac into the iPhone-iPad family.
That's what I like most about Mountain Lion. It borrows a lot from its mobile cousin.
I did run into a few hiccups using Mountain Lion, but none were deal-breakers. The iCloud features were easy to use once I signed in, but I had difficulty getting the startup screen to come up because of how my office Wi-Fi network is set up. I also had some trouble getting a new Notes program to sync, but it worked well once it did.
Apart from that, my experience was relatively pain-free and seamless.
If you're a Windows user, see what Microsoft has in store with Windows 8, which comes out Oct. 26. That system also promises to work well with tablet computers, but will it be as seamless as Mountain Lion?
If you already have a Mac, you can upgrade directly to Mountain Lion only if it's running Lion or its 2009 predecessor, Snow Leopard. It took a colleague an hour and a half to download and install Mountain Lion. You can upgrade for free if you bought your Mac since June 11.
Otherwise, shell out the $20. That's $20 for all your Macs, not each one. It's well worth the price just for the integration with iCloud, and you get a whole lot more.
The Mac already had such mobile-like features as the ability to zoom in or out on a MacBook by pinching your fingers on its touchpad. Mountain Lion goes a lot further:
Notification Center: This slides out from the right of the screen to offer calendar reminders and the latest mail items. It mimics, down to the background color, layout and font, the way you get Facebook updates, news alerts and other notices on your iPhone.
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