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Notifications can be managed just as they are on iOS 6. Alerts can be in banner form or in the middle of the screen. They can also be changed to make a sound when a new notification comes through.
Dictation is one of the best new features to "Mountain Lion". It can be used anywhere -- including Microsoft Office for Mac. Simply double press the designated key (by default: "Fn"), and it will load up the dictation feature.
Talk into your Mac or external microphone and it will transcribe your voice for you. Just be careful: everything you speak will be uploaded to Apple for processing. It also means if you're on a mobile broadband connection, one should be careful as to not incur excessive data costs.