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Tech Report – OS X Mountain Lion

There was a time not so long ago when mobile operating systems were designed to emulate the desktop. The more our mobile web browsing or e-mail experience felt like we were using a real computer, the theory went, the happier we would be. Not anymore. Now, mobile leads the way and it’s almost impossible to open up a notebook or fire up a desktop without longing for all those smartphone shortcuts and easy-to-use apps.

Nothing illustrates the dominance of mobile more than Apple’s new OS X Mountain Lion software upgrade for the Mac, which goes on sale this week.

Although Apple claims over 200 new features for Mountain Lion, the important ones – and the ones that Apple is highlighting – are clearly borrowed from the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, or are designed to make the Mac work better with its mobile cousins.

There is Reminders, which is designed to sync with the iPhone and iPad so you never miss a deadline; Notes, so you can add photos, images and attachments from the Mac and take them with you wherever you go; the Notification Center, which iOS 5 ‘borrowed’ from Android and which now finds its way to the Mac; and iMessage, which allows Macs to join in the mobile messaging fun. And everything you do on your Mac is now automatically updated to your mobile devices through iCloud.

Of course, there are some stand-alone improvements for the Mac like Power Nap (automatic updates while the Mac sleeps) and Dictation (talk to text just about anywhere you can type), these are overshadowed by the iOS 5-influenced updates and the emphasis on syncing with mobile.

There is even a brand new Share button, in case you miss the sharing options that are ubiquitous on smartphones and tablets. There is also a promised fall update that will sync OS X with Facebook to add friends to contacts and automatically capture updates.

Apple has also taken the opportunity to add some security safeguards, including anti-phishing protections in Safari and a new security module called Gatekeeper, which blocks malicious apps and checks for approved developer IDs.

OS X Mountain Lion is only available as a download from the Mac App Store and costs $19.99. In order to download Mountain Lion you will need a Mac running OS X 10.6.6 or later but there are some complications with older machines, so it’s best to carefully read Apple’s How to Upgrade feature first.

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