"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Technology
February 20, 2012

OS X Mountain Lion

Apple has unveiled some of the new features of OS X Mountain Lion. As many of us expected, it shows Apple further blurring the distinction between its desktop operating system, now called OS X instead of Mac OS X and the mobile iOS system. More iOS Features On Your Mac Mountain Lion further embeds the […]

Apple has unveiled some of the new features of OS X Mountain Lion. As many of us expected, it shows Apple further blurring the distinction between its desktop operating system, now called OS X instead of Mac OS X and the mobile iOS system.

More iOS Features On Your Mac

Mountain Lion further embeds the sharing and social features of iOS and promises to make working across devices easier. For example, start something on your iPhone, work it up on your Mac, then effortlessly share it on your iPad.

As an everyday Mac user, I’m excited by the features in Mountain Lion. It’s certainly going to make communication and collaboration easier. As much as I love OmniFocus, it seems Reminders just became a whole lot more useful for smaller daily lists. And pulling Notes out of the Mail and giving it some of the old Stickies features makes it a whole lot more useful and useable.

In particular, I’m thrilled to see the AirPlay Mirroring feature coming to Macs. Right now I watch English Premier League football on my MacBook Pro via a mioStadium pass. But, with Mountain Lion I will be able to painlessly stream that feed to my TV, wirelessly. Yet one more nail in the coffin for conventional cable TV!

The Zen Of One Screen

Mountain Lion suggests the end of the device dance – where users have to keep their iPhone at hand while using the computer, in order to answer messages and handle some other needs. In fact the only big missing feature is the ability to easily route phone calls from the iPhone to your iMac, or MacBook Pro (I assume that’s coming).

This is bringing us closer to what has clearly been Apple’s goal for a long time, namely, the ability to do any software related task with whatever computer screen is available to us as the time. You could call it the “zen of one screen.” To see how deep this thinking goes in Apple’s DNA, check out this video of Steve Jobs from 1997,

Licences and Levies

Using the cloud to work across OSX and iOS devices (not to mention the rise of the App Store and the new Gatekeeper function) is going to challenge existing models for licensing and pricing software. We’ve already seen where Apple is going with the unbundling of the old Logic Pro package (and before that the Final Cut suite) into it’s constituent parts.

It’s kind of obvious, but consumers will reward companies that make it easier to use their products across the two operating systems and will tend to avoid those that seem to double (or triple) charge for versions of the same product.

That’s why I’m fascinated by the direction Abode have taken with their CreativeCloud offering. For $49.99 a month Adobe are not only offering storage and sync capability, but also licensing their whole Creative Suite package (including Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Illustrator, Premier Pro and After Effects), as well a TypeKit subscription and eventually Lightroom.

What About Productivity?

What does this mean to creative professionals? I’m inclined to agree with Peter Kirn that this update doesn’t fundamentally change things for those us who use Macs to make music, images or other original creative work. As Peter says,

“You can safely ignore the debate – on all sides – likely to rage about what this OS update means. The stuff that matters most to us as musicians isn’t necessarily what matters to other people.”

The real big question is how (and if) we include notifications and social functions into our daily work. I’m in two minds about this.

My MacBook Pro is the computer I use for doing email, posting to the web, sharing photos and managing calendars and projects. As I mentioned above, I really like the idea of updating to Mountain Lion for this machine. But, my Mac Pro, the machine I use to make music (and heavier photo projects) may well stay on Snow Leopard until it becomes obsolete. I’ve worked hard to build a distraction-free environment around that machine; I don’t even bring my iPhone into the studio!

That said, I do like the idea of sharing features in Pro applications. Why not make it easier to share a mix from Logic to Twitter (maybe via SoundCloud)? Moreover, it would be great if we could integrate calendars (and email/message notifications) into production notes in Logic and Final Cut.


Some may claim that Mountain Lion is not a “game-changer.” That kind of misses the point. The game changed a long time ago. What Mountain Lion offers us, assuming it is stable and doesn’t break too many existing apps, is a chance to get more mileage out of the devices and applications we already own. That, in and of itself, is reason enough to be excited.

So, I will look forward to working with Mountain Lion while I wait patiently to see what, if anything, Apple does with the Mac Pro range.

DanLisMusic 12 years ago

I agree with what you said, especially about packaging studio products for musicians and creatives in ways that make more sense than shelling out for product suites. It seems that the game has changed indeed, and making things more universal–whether it’s across devices or by integrating social/web sharing–is the way to go with the trends technology and our lives are taking.

Toni 12 years ago

As always, your thoughts are interesting on this, Fern.

TBH this kind of integration is pushing me further and harder away from Apple, and into the arms of those who make discrete and un-connected devices. Why? Well partly for the same reason you have build a distraction-free environment around you studio.

I’m not comfy with having everything interconnected, and much prefer separation between functions. I like having a camera that is just a camera, and I’d be happy with a PC that only recorded in a dedicated room. My work laptop remains separate from my home computer, and I’m VERY reluctant to share work with home & home with work. But most of all, it feels like the more integration takes place, the less I am in control, and I have no trust of Apple to support me to work the way I want to work.

So I’m still running leopard here, because Snow Leopard wouldn’t work well with my unibody Macbook and couldn’t print to my Samsung laser printer (also <3 years old). For a long time I hated iTunes, and now with the latest update I can't use it because it requires Quicktime 7.5.5 and I cannot upgrade beyond 7.5.1. And this OS has only been superceded for 2 years.

In some ways the integration thing they're managing IS marvellous – a real feat to pull off. Yet I can't help feel that it is going to alienate those who don't want to buy into the complete Apple ecosystem body and soul. And especially those that cannot afford to plough professional quantities of cash into it.

Adobe are clever, since this latest offering will lower the bar of entry for a lot of people who would definitely have had to look elsewhere. And they're still going to pull in More than $1400 for using that software over a 2 year period that might have been the working life between upgrades, and a steady income stream is very useful.

As you've already guessed, I'm looking for a way to leave apple, and as soon as I can justify it, I'm going to do so. I just hate feeling like I'm not in control any more.

Fernando Gros 12 years ago

Dan – agree.

Fernando Gros 12 years ago

Toni – thanks! Wait, you said “interesting.” 😉

I agree with you that the Apple thing, more-so now than ever, works best if you buy into the eco-system. I am happy with it on the home/personal level. Very happy in fact. I feel no need to customise much, beyond basic preferences, when working with photos, or doing email, web browsing or writing. But, I totally agree it is not cheap at all.

On the Mac Pro, I want and need to customise stuff, which is really a way of saying I need to integrate non-Apple hardware into a stable OS. Actually my big concern is not that Apple make it hard to get to create a stable environment, but that updates can break that environment. I recall when a minor update (was it 10.3.2?) broke my configuration and left me without an Audio Interface for three months!

Adobe has almost got me hooked. I’ve been wanting to play with InDesign and Premiere for a while now, but the cost of buying the suite in one hit was painful. It took me ages to muster the courage just to buy the standalone version of Photoshop!. Of course, it remains to be seeing what, if anything they do for existing customers. But, I agree with you, they will bring in a lot of new users, get users like me to upgrade and maybe even get some users of pirated versions to go legit.

Toni 12 years ago

Interesting in a good way – of course!

I don’t understand why Apple breaks their own stuff – everything from software to hardware is completely under their control, yet it’s unpredictable.

Having been using all 3 major flavours of OS alongside each other for the last few years has made me realise how good Microsoft really are, while also doing their best to scupper the competition. I could Migrate to Linux happily now, I think, if Office were a natural part of the system. O_O is good, but M$ have deliberately made their ‘open’ DOCX format difficult to work well with. Maybe I’ll get around to working with WINE.

It’s not that Linux is a better system than OSX or Windows, so much that it *feels* different, though that’s almost certainly me thinking it does, rather than it really being different. It certainly doesn’t lack bugs or flaws (printing under linux is even more horrid than under OSX – there are more tools available, but it can still be glitchy and slow). But the next machine will almost certainly run Windows, simply because it’s so good with peripherals and office is so compatible and powerful for business use.

One thing which is curious is that I really wanted to use Garageband. I’ve tried it a couple of times, but it just doesn’t work for me – a different way of thinking. I’d rather sit down with Audacity with all the tools to hand in a layout that seems obvious.

Fernando Gros 12 years ago

Toni – phew!

To be fair to Apple, they don’t break their own stuff that often. But, 3rd party peripherals, be they hardware or software are always at risk. I can’t really comment on Windows now (or Linux). But, I do have so many bad memories from using Windows some years back – especially with printers.

Garageband has an interface that is not for everyone, especially those of us that recorded in a purely time-based (tape) environment. Garageband makes a lot of sense if you think purely in terms of bars and regions, rather than time and beats. I got my best results with it by forcing myself to shop performances up into one, two and four bar chunks. It’s a good exercise, but, of course, I don’t always want to work like that.

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