Apple announced that OS X Mountain Lion, the ninth major release of the company’s desktop operating system, will be available in July as a download from the Mac App Store. Mountain Lion introduces more than 200 new features, and will have Apple’s iCloud built into the foundation of the operating system, making it easier for users to keep content up to date across all devices.

Using an iCloud account, users can set up features such as Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, Reminders and Notes, and the cloud service automatically keeps information up to date, Apple says. A Documents in the Cloud capability works with iCloud-enabled applications including Apple’s iWork suite, so users can always access and edit documents on any device.

The new Messages application replaces iChat and brings iMessage to the Mac, so users can send messages to anyone with an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or another Mac. They can include attachments, high-quality photos and HD video. IMessage includes group messaging, delivery and read receipts, typing indicators and secure end-to-end encryption. The Messages application also supports traditional instant messaging services, including AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk and Jabber.

Mountain Lion streamlines the presentation of notifications, and with a Notification Center feature users can see all their notifications from OS X and third-party applications in one place. They can customize which apps send notifications, the type of notification they receive, and how many items are shown in Notification Center.

A new Gatekeeper feature makes downloading software from the Internet safer by giving users control over which apps can be installed on a Mac.



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