Mountain Lion includes over 200 new features. Some of them are dramatic and hard to miss while others are minor conveniences that don’t stand out immediately. Many of those big and small new features and improvements have a lot of appeal for business users.
Here’s a list of the many new features in Mountain Lion that can help professionals in almost any industry work smarter, more efficiently, and more effectively.
- AirPlay Mirroring is one of the biggest new features in Mountain Lion and has immense business and education potential. AirPlay Mirroring uses industry standard encryption and thus is a secure presentation system.
- The option to rename documents from the title bar of their window in any app can be a great time saver and document management feature.
- The ability to revert to the last saved version of a document or file is a great addition to the auto-save and Versions feature introduced in Lion.
- New keyboard shortcuts to duplicate files/documents and use OS X’s Save As feature to make a copy of an open document are nice, but easy to miss additions.
- Although it may not seems business-appropriate at first glance, the new instant sharing of nearly and type of information through the iOS-like Share menu available that is available in a range of apps can serious improve business communication and collaboration. Items can be shared using a range of technologies – social networks, email, Messages, internal messaging systems like those offered by OS X Server’s iChat Server or Messages Server (or other messaging system based on the open source Jabber protocol), and Apple’s AirDrop.
- Improved data selection in Calendar (formerly iCal) that includes a pop-up calendar similar to those in most web-based calendar and reservation systems makes setting single day or multi-day events easier.
- Event information is easier to locate in Calendar now that you can search tokens like those available in the Finder and Mail.
- The return of the Calendar sidebar that was available in editions of OS X and iCal before Lion is a massive improvement over iCal in Lion. It makes working with multiple calendars much simpler.
- Contacts (formerly Address Book) offers a unified view that makes it easy to see/search across all contacts available including those that are personal, those that are stored in a company’s central contact system(s), and those stored in various cloud and email systems.
- Dictation is another major feature. It works in any app, can be invoked by a keyboard shortcut, and is integrated with Contacts so that if you say a contact’s name, Mountain Lion will understand you an accurately type the person’s name (even if that name doesn’t have an obvious phonetic spelling).
- Easy one-click encryption of storage devices like flash drives and external hard drives using a contextual menu (left-click) in the Finder is a major feature for professionals that need to comply with data security and privacy policies, regulations, or laws.
- Apple has improved File Vault management options over Lion for organizations or users that need whole-disk encryption. Apple has also submitted Mountain Lion’s security and encryption to the U.S. government for FIPS certification, which is required by many government agencies (including the Department of Defense) and by many government and military contractors.
- Gatekeeper security and application signing, which ensures apps haven’t been tampered with or damaged after being installed (application signing has been around since Leopard, but Gatekeeper and Apple’s Developer ID program really highlight its importance).
- The Mac App Store can now push apps purchased on one Mac to any other Macs (home, office, and so on) associated with a user’s Apple ID.
- The ability to designate specific contacts as VIPs in Mail is great for business communication and email management. So is the new option of a smart mailbox that automatically groups and highlights all VIP-related emails. VIP designations are also pushed across all Macs associated with an iCloud account.
- New mail messages in Notification Center offer a brief message preview.
- Searching for content in Mail highlights all instances of the search phrase (much like Safari’s Find command), making it easier to locate specific content within messages.
- Messages includes several capabilities useful to business users. Secure and encrypted messaging to other Mac and iOS device users is one stand out feature. Group messaging and shared conversations are displayed across devices making it easy to carry on a conversation. Messages offers the ability to see if a message has been delivered, read, or if the other person(s) is typing a response. Messages can also be searched and forwarded. All of that has a lot of business potential.
- As noted in earlier with regards to the new Share menu, Messages supports internal messaging systems based on Jabber as well as public IM systems. It also sports the ability to initiate audio, and video chats within Messages and integration with FaceTime calling.
- Messages, like iChat before it, supports screen sharing and the ability to push a presentation or recorded video to chat participants (this isn’t new, but it has great business potential and is worth mentioning). Screen sharing also adds the ability to drag and drop files between the Mac you’re currently using and one you’re viewing/controlling remotely.
- Notes is another new feature that’s pretty big. Notes can sync across Macs and devices using iCloud or other systems that support content syncing like Yahoo Mail, GMail, AOL Instant Messenger, Exchange, and most email systems. You can also double-click notes to pin them to the desktop outside Note’s main window.
- Notification center is another major new feature that is implemented across many apps and therefore let’s business users tailor notifications to specific needs (project management, scheduling, customer contact, and almost anything else).
- Like Notifications, Reminders are an excellent business feature. You can set reminders for common tasks, events, and other items. Since items can be activated by location, you can schedule reminders specific to certain offices and worksites as well as to client and customer offices or residences. You can also create Mac-specific reminders that don’t get triggered on iOS devices.
- The Font Book app let’s you configure smart groups based on varying font characteristics – a useful feature graphic designers.
Most professionals that use a Mac for business or work purposes probably will only use a handful of these features. That said, many of these features show that Apple is committed to making Mountain Lion and the Mac a true business solution that takes advantage of a range of desktop and mobile technologies.