Software, Hardware, Silverware

Observations on Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Skeuomorphism is here to stay. Five years ago, one of the big features of features of Leopard was a unified UI: rid of Aqua themes, pro themes, and brushed metal. Snow Leopard continued that trend, and then Lion broke it with faux-leather Address Book and iCal. Today, Mountain Lion adds Reminders, Notes, and Game Center to the leather trend. People tend to think it’s terrible and publicly scream about it, but I don’t mind it so much. I’m probably nuts.

iCal is now Calendar and iChat is now Messages. I’m not sad to see these iMonikers start to disappear. iCal was a terrible name, period. Address Book was renamed Contacts, and System Preferences is now Settings, but those changes are less interesting.

Safari 5.2 adds a unified address/search bar. My theory on the delay of a Safari “omnibar” is that Apple looked at Chrome and thought, “We can do better than that!” and it took them until now to realize that actually they couldn’t, and they should probably just put it in already. I don’t care, I’m just glad that it’s finally here. Count on it appearing in iOS 6.

Notification Center for the Mac was inevitable. I privately predicted it way back in June. Sorry, Growl.

The new accounts settings pane is a godsend. iOS has always had a simple interface for adding email, contacts, and calendar accounts, and Lion Mail brought that to the desktop. Mountain Lion adds support for Flickr and Twitter, among others, baked right into Settings. This is excellent.

Notes and reminders are removed from Mail and Calendar, which is way over do (especially for notes).

Notes raises a few questions for me. The new Mac version has explicit support for inline images and rich text. But the iPhone and iPad apps don’t, and in Apple’s screenshots it seems like that content is simply stripped. Hopefully that won’t create syncing errors where images disappear when pushed back and forth between iPhones and iMacs. Alternatively, iOS 5.1 or 6 could add support for these features.

Messages is how IM should have been done years ago.

Gatekeeper is an awesome security feature for the vast majority of Mac users, and for power users, it’s a one-time toggle to turn it off. I know people are going to fuss and whine about it, but really there’s no reason to.

Mountain Lion adds two new icons to the dock that aren’t blue and glossy1. The glowing blue running indicators are still on by default. That’s interesting, because in the Lion betas they were off by default, and in the public release they were turned back on. Apparently, Apple still doesn’t think they’ve reached the point with frozen states and resuming to justify it.

For complete coverage of all of the changes coming in OS X Mountain Lion, I suggest MacWorld.

  1. The Messages icon, unfortunately, is. At least it isn’t an orb. ↩︎