Yesterday, Apple announced the next version of Mac OS X, dubbed Mountain Lion, is scheduled to be available at the end of summer. It’s filled with cool new features, but who wants to wait until this summer to get them?
You've probably seen Notification centre on iOS 5 as it was probably the most-desired feature lacking from Apple's mobile operating system. It provides a more subtle notification system on your mobile device and a pulldown list to see your current notification history. A similar feature will be available as part of Mac OS X Mountain Lion. Although Apple's Notification centre for the desktop is going to be a far more robust, most of us currently use Growl for notification banners. Growl will cost you a few dollars if you want the latest version, but you can download an older copy for free. The advantage of paying is that the latest version (only available for Mac OS X Lion 10.7 or later) includes a feature called Rollup, which is essentially the same as Notification centre. (See the screenshot to the right for an example.) It saves your notifications in a little window so you can see what you missed while you were away.
Growl is limited by what can send it messages, however, so you won't receive notifications for things like SMS and calls. If you're a Google Voice user you can get those notifications by installing an app like GrowlVoice ($5) or BigPhone ($5 / Free). These apps not only let you get call and text notifications on your computer, but let you respond to both as well.
AirPlay Mirroring takes whatever is on your Mac's screen and wirelessly mirrors it on your television (via an Apple TV) or any other device that can receive an AirPlay transmission. You can do this right now with an app called AirParrot ($10). It provides the exact same functionality. If you want to take things a step further than Mountain Lion can offer, then you'll also want to check outAirServer. This app will let you receive AirPlay signals on your Mac so you can send video from other devices, like your iPhone or iPad, and watch them on the computer.
GateKeeper is Apple's attempt at preventing malware on your Mac, and it does this by letting you decide which kinds of apps are allowed to run and which apps are not. You can run any app you download (the way things currently work in Lion), only allow Mac App Store apps or apps signed with an official Apple developer ID to run, or just allow apps downloaded directly from the Mac App Store to run.
Obviously you can currently run all apps or just Mac App Store apps right now, without any fancy features, but the developer ID check is definitely something new. While we believe that you'll be just fine if you're diligent, there is malware protection and antivirus software for your Mac should you want to play it extra safe right now.
iCloud--Apple's service that syncs all your information to the cloud and across devices--is already a part of Mac OS X, but the integration is deeper in Mountain Lion. One of the features Apple is touting in the iCloud upgrade is document sync, allowing you to access your documents across multiple computers and mobile devices. You can have that right now with InSync and a Google Docs account.
InSync lets you access all your Google Docs files directly from your desktop and keeps them in sync with the online version as well as any other computers. Of course, there's also Dropbox. It's not exactly the same thing, but it will keep your documents in sync and we do love it a lot.
Notes is Apple's addition of a syncing notes application to Mac OS X, but there's absolutely no reason to wait for Mountain Lion to get this functionality whenNotational Velocity, using the Simplenoteservice, already provides this exact functionality.
In fact, Simplenote is so well done that you'll probably continue to use it after you get your hands on Apple's official syncing notes application. Simplenote has apps for iOS, Android, and Windows so you have the additional advantage of using any platform you want. If you want to use rich text and images, try Evernote instead.
Reminders is just a simple to-do app, and there are plenty of those to go around on Mac OS X already. Our favourite is Wunderlist, which is a slightly more robust task management app that works on multiple platforms so you're not syncing your to-dos with just your Mac. You can have them on your iPhone, iPad, Android,Windows computer as well. It also works in your web browser, providing access just about anywhere.