Mountain Lion creeps forward: new features in the developer preview

tap_to_click

In February, we took a look at smaller changes in the pre-release version of OS X Mountain Lion that Mac developers are using. These changes are good indications of what we’ll see when the final version goes live sometime this summer. Apple has released two new previews since then with quite a few updates — some significant, some seriously minor, and some that have even undone changes since we last wrote about it.

Here’s what’s new:

General changes

  • The App Store now supports automatic downloads, which is one of the things I’d hoped Apple would add. You can also go backward and forward in the App Store and Game Center with two fingers, the same as Safari. Notably, you still can’t do this in the Finder.
  • There’s a new popover for choosing avatars, which is used in Game Center and the Users and Groups pane in System Preferences.
  • You can no longer remove apps and stacks from the Dock by simply dragging them off. You have to do it by right-clicking, which I expect is going to draw the ire of many power users.
  • Launchpad is no longer arranged alphabetically. The “Utilities” folder has also been renamed to “Others”.
  • The linen background in Mission Control is slightly darker than in Lion.
  • Font Book now has a full-screen mode and two smart folders in the sidebar for fixed-width fonts and monospaced fonts.
  • The battery item in the menu bar has been simplified so that the only option is to show the percentage left or not. Showing time left has been removed.
  • You can go from one stack to another in the Dock with one click. In Lion, clicking another stack with one already open just closes the current stack. (Updated: Sorry, this isn’t new to Mountain Lion. Turns out, it doesn’t work in Lion when your Dock is hidden — which mine was — but does when unhidden.)

Safari

  • There’s a new button for iCloud tabs, which allows access to tabs on other devices.
  • There’s a new page-loading animation, which you can see in this YouTube video.
  • Web apps can send native notifications through Safari, as evidenced by the new Notification Center tab in Safari’s preferences.
  • Reading List has a new look, with a more neutral background color and paper texture instead of linen. It also supports offline reading.
  • When you download a file in Safari in Lion, the file flies into the downloads button. In Mountain Lion, it flies into the downloads stack in the Dock, and a progress indicator appears over the stack.
  • Safari has a more “responsive” UI: when you resize a window past a certain point, buttons will be hidden to save space.
  • There’s a new tab button next to the bookmarks bar when only one tab is open and the tab bar is hidden.

Notification Center

  • There’s a new “do not disturb” mode, which disables notifications when active.
  • The menu bar icon has a gray dot in the middle, rather than black. It also changes into a moon when do not disturb mode is on.
  • There’s a new button in the lower-righthand corner that’ll take you to Notification Center’s preference pane in System Preferences.

System Preferences

  • The General perefence pane has been simplified. The options for smooth scrolling and double-click to minimize are gone, with the latter being moved to the Dock preference pane. The three dropdowns for the number of recent items has been consolidated into one. The dropdown for choosing the sidebar icon size has been moved to the top section. Finally, there’s a new checkbox for “Ask to keep changes when closing documents.”
  • The preferences for “tap to click” have been moved into the Trackpad pane and are enabled by default.
  • The Mission Control pane now has the option to disable grouping windows by application, so all windows will be shown the same way.
  • Time Machine’s pane has been updated slightly, with flatter buttons and a simpler explanation of what Time Machine does.

Updated and undone changes

  • When you edit a document that’s just been saved, the “Edited” text in the toolbar no longer flashes blue three times.
  • In the Versions menu, there’s now an option to revert to the last opened version.
  • When copying a large file, the iOS-like progress indicator is the only one that appears, completely replacing the traditional copy dialogue.

What do you think of the new changes? Tell us in the comments.

Header image via Flicker user sigsegv.

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