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Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) new operating system for Mac computers, with features borrowed from mobile devices and a tighter integration with online file storage, went public on Wednesday morning. Mountain Lion can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for $19.99 on machines running OS X 10.6.6 or higher. Those who purchased a Mac computer on or after June 11 can get the upgrade for free.
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The new software has better integration with social networks like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter, built-in features to facilitate sharing, and a new Messages app similar to the mobile OS that replaces iChat and allows users to send messages to other Apple users. Mountain Lion will also be seamlessly integrated with iCloud, so that a document being worked on on the Mac is automatically accessible on a synced iPhone or iPad.
The software will also bring dictation to Macs, while the new Game Center app will store high game scores and help users find opponents on both Mac computers and Apple mobile devices. Two other features crossing over from iOS 5 are Notes and Reminders. The iOS Notification Center has also been brought over, with Mail, Calendar, and other alerts popping up in the top-right corner of the screen.
The Power Nap feature will keep the computer updated even while it is in power-saving “sleep” mode, receiving email messages, backing up files, and downloading software updates automatically. Apple has also added a new security feature called Gatekeeper that will let the user choose a particular level of security to avoid malware.
While the slip this quarter was a setback, Apple has also added features specific to its biggest growing market in China, including tie-ups with popular Chinese web services like Sina (NASDAQ:SINA) Weibo and Youku (NYSE:YOKU), improved text input, new fonts, a Chinese dictionary, and Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) search in Safari.
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