Five things to like about Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion actually seems a bit scant on new language-related functionality. Sure, it’s got plenty of exciting new features, like PowerNap, Messages and Airplay Mirroring, but hardly any of them seem particularly relevant to translating. No doubt translators who own more than one Apple product will be pleased with Mountain Lion’s tight integration with iCloud, and translators who like to spend a lot of their time on Twitter and Facebook* etc will surely appreciate Built-in Sharing, but what of new features that might be of specific interest to translators in general? Here’s five:

1. Backup to multiple locations

As we mentioned in a previous post on Lion, backing up is particularly important to translators (who tend to value the content of their computer more than most), so the ability to now backup to multiple disks is a fairly large boon – especially for those of us who might like to keep a physical backup in multiple locations.

2. Three new dictionaries

Unlike with Lion, there’s no major functionality changes this time around, unfortunately, but there is at least the welcome inclusion of Simplified Chinese, Spanish, and German definition dictionaries; plus, you can now navigate through your history by swiping left and right on the trackpad, which is nice.

3. Dictation

This one’s a step in the right direction at least (think being able to one day dictate a translation rather than type one), and it’s a piece of cake to set up: just head on over to ‘System Preferences’, select ‘Dictation and Speech’ and turn it on – oh, and remember to select either ‘English (United Kingdom)’ or ‘English (Australia)’ if you happen to have an accent that isn’t recognized by the default ‘English (United States)’ setting (Note: Dictation supports English, French, German and Japanese). You’ll then be able to dictate anywhere you can type – although not in real-time, since nothing you say will appear on the screen until you’ve pushed a key to tell the system you’ve finished speaking… which is annoying.

4. Simplified Lookup

As covered in a previous post, Lookup lets you highlight a word in certain applications, like Safari, and then ‘three-finger double-tap’ to bring up dictionary definitions of the highlighted word. Lookup was new to Lion, rather than Mountain Lion, and although it takes a bit of getting used to, it’s actually pretty handy – especially if you tend to translate things on the web using Safari. However, unfortunately, three-finger double-tapping is annoyingly hard to pull off with any degree of reliability; luckily, Apple seem to have at last noticed this less-than-seamless user-experience and simplified it to a single three-finger tap in Mountain Lion (making Lookup not only easier to use but also easier to explain!).

5. Notification Center

Mountain Lion seems to be largely concerned with trying to better tie together Apple’s various different products lines (primarily through iCloud integration), however, it’s also an update that could potentially help you get better organized: two of its major new features are Reminders (an application that allows you to write various different lists) and Notes (think computerized post-it-notes that can contain text, images, attachments, etc), for example. Notification Center then, is an alert system that pulls everything together and displays it in a sensible order on the right-hand side of your screen – sounds like it could be just-the-thing for keeping track of upcoming events, projects and deadlines etc.

* Facebook integration due for fall.

Are you using Mountain Lion yet? If so, how are you finding it? Found any new features you think Translators should know about?