Apple OS X Mountain Lion review: iOS-like features help unify your digital world

The new desktop OS benefits from new features adopted from iOS

Page 6 of 8

There are a few other additions to OS X's security, including these: kernel ASLR, which arranges kernel components in memory arbitrarily, making it more difficult for attackers to divert kernel functions for their purposes by calling known memory addresses; sandboxing, which isolates applications from one another; and enhancements to the built-in disk encryption system called FileVault, including the ability to encrypt mounted volumes via right-click menu in Finder.

Mountain Lion is also now in the process of being certified for the government security standard FIPS 140-2.

A little more iOS

In Mountain Lion, iOS continues its influence on built-in applications. For instance, Address Book and iCal have had their names changed to Contacts and Calendars, respectively. A rose by any other name is still a rose, and, while the functionality of these apps remains the same, the updated names provide consistency across Apple products.

Contacts has been updated to include a third view option, which shows the contacts source, such as Exchange or iCloud; before, the contacts source could be viewed by clicking Address Book's red bookmark. The change makes the source list a little easier to access.

Sharing information from the Address Book used to launch an email client; in Mountain Lion, Contacts sports a Share sheet, which allows email, Messages and AirDrop sharing from within the app. Also, if you have the same contact with different information across multiple services -- say, a contact has an email address in Exchange, but the same contact has a phone number in iCloud -- the Contacts app merges them into one entry for easier reference.

Calendar, like Contacts, now displays the source list inline instead of as a pop-up. It has also received a few tweaks, including better search, Notification Center support, and a more refined way to select dates when making new entries.

The Notes app now allows you to pin notes to your desktop and share notes among devices using iCloud.

In earlier versions of OS X, Notes was part of the Mail program. Now, in yet another cue from iOS, it is a stand-alone application. Like Notes in iOS, the Mountain Lion version also automatically syncs using iCloud, making sure your devices stay up to date with all your notes.

Notes has also learned a few tricks that make it a more powerful tool, including the ability to pin notes to your desktop (just double-click the note and it'll open in its own window); full-screen support; rich text support with (finally) more font choices; support for drag-and-drop hyperlinks; a built-in Sharing button; and organization via folders. Searching within Notes is improved, too, and you can build lists with bulleted items. You can also add images and attachments to your Notes, but those don't (yet) show up properly in their iOS counterparts.

The Reminders app makes the move from iOS to OS X as well, and like Calendar, Contacts and Notes, it automatically syncs with iCloud, keeping your devices all on the same page. Like the mobile version, the desktop app can access Location Services, which means that you can set Reminders to alert you when you arrive or leave a specified location. Gesture support allows you to swipe between lists in single-column view. And as with other Apple apps, support for Notification Center is built in.

Messages

In Mountain Lion, iChat has been supplanted by Messages, which now allows you to go beyond simple instant messaging and communicate with anyone who has an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS 5. Because Messages supports iCloud, it's also possible to begin a conversation on one device and then continue it on another.

Like most messaging apps, Messages allows you to send text, videos and images to others using AIM, Yahoo, Jabber and Google Talk -- and you can send text messages to phone numbers. As you type in the name of the person you want to chat with, their information (from Contacts) pops up, allowing you to designate which service email or phone number to use. Also supported: delivery and read receipts, searchable message contents, full-screen views, access to Notifications and, last but not least, FaceTime video.

| 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Page 6
ITWorld DealPost: The best in tech deals and discounts.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon