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Mac OS X Mountain Lion: First glance at the features

The latest version of Apple's Mac OS X, dubbed Mountain Lion, hit the Mac App Store yesterday morning priced just £13.99.

Apple unveiled a developer preview of Mountain Lion in February and not too much has changed since then. In fact, Mountain Lion looks like an identical twin of its predecessor, OS X Lion, at first glance.

A deeper look, however, reveals some nice tieups with other Apple products currently available on iOS devices. Not surprisingly, the revamped OS focuses heavily on iCloud and integration with other iDevices. Work on a document on the Mac and it will be automatically accessible on your iPhone or iPad.

A new Messages app - like the one available on iOS 5 - replaces iChat. Messages will be pushed to all iDevices, so you can start a chat on the Mac and pick up on your iPhone.

Two other features crossing over from iOS 5 are Notes and Reminders; any updates added on the Mac will also show up on your iPhone and iPad apps.

One of the more popular additions to iOS 5, meanwhile, was the Android-esque Notification Center. That now comes to Mountain Lion. If you receive a new Mail message, Calendar invitation, or other alert, Mountain Lion will present an alert in the top-right corner of your screen. Click it for an overview of your activity.

Apple also touted the easy sharing aspects of Mountain Lion, which allow for quick sharing of photos, videos, and other files via Mail, Messages, AirDrop, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Vimeo. While Twitter will be built into Mountain Lion, Facebook will be available in an upcoming update, likely around the release of iOS 6, which also includes Facebook integration.

AirPlay Mirroring, meanwhile, can essentially turn your Apple TV into a gaming console. Apple TV will wirelessly deliver high-definition mirroring and audio to your HDTV.

Other features include: Game Centre, Dictation, and Power Nap, which will update your Mac even when it's in sleep mode.

Given that China is now a major market for Apple, despite a slip this quarter, there are some China-specific aspects of Mountain Lion, including tieups with popular Chinese Web services, improved text input, eight new fonts, and a new Chinese dictionary.

On the security front, a feature known as Gatekeeper will let you choose your level of security in an effort to avoid malware. You can opt to only download Mac App Store apps, Mac App Store apps and those from identified developers, or applications from anywhere.