WordPress 3.5 introduced a lot of changes under the hood. One of the simple things that makes my life much easier is the way that the new WP_Post object allows post meta to be fetched using virtual properties. If you aren’t familiar with classes or virtual properties, all you need to know is that you can use the meta key for your post meta as if it were a property of the post object.
Before WordPress 3.5, the post object was just a stdClass object and the properties were limited to the MySQL fields in the wp_posts database table. Now that it is a WP_Post object, it has been architected to include access to the wp_postmeta table as well using virtual properties.