Apple OS X Mountain Lion 10.8 – Need to Know

Here's the lowdown on what you need to know about Apple's OS X update, due in July

Apple's latest iteration of OS X is further blurring the edges between iOS and its desktop operating system. Here are all the new features you need to know about before your Mac gobbles it up this summer.

Apple OS X Mountain Lion – Notification Center

Apple's iOS 5 received a weighty notification upgrade – and OS X Mountain Lion has followed suit with a handy dropdown notification list in the top right of the screen. Sliding two fingers from the right edge of your trackpad is a neat little trick to open up the list. It includes support for Twitter and (following a software update) Facebook, letting you update Facebook from within the Notification Center.

Apple OS X Mountain Lion – increased iCloud integration

iCloud plays a more dominant role in Mas OS X Lion – now you can sync calendars, emails and contacts across all of your iOS devices, as well as your notes, messages and reminders.

Apple OS X Mountain Lion – Dictation

Mountain Lion will feature Siri-style dictation, enabling you to dictate text into Apple and third-party apps. It's a neat way to make use of the dual mics featured in the next-generation MacBook Pro.

Apple OS X Mountain Lion – Messages

Goodbye iChat, hello Messages. This new unified messaging experience will let you IM on multiple accounts including Google Chat and AIM, as well as allowing you to share images and HD videos and launch FaceTime chat. It also enables you to send and receive iMessages sent to your iPhone or iPad using your Mac.

Apple OS X Mountain Lion – Sharing

Apps including Safari now feature a Share button which lets you send links and photos via Messages, email and Twitter. It also supports services including Facebook, Flickr and Vimeo – Facebook and Twitter notifications are included in the Notification Center.

Apple will also add Facebook integration to OS X Mountain Lion in a software update. Facebook friends will automatically appear in your contacts, and Facebook updates will appear in the Notification Center. You'll also be able to update Facebook from within the Notification Center.

Apple OS X Mountain Lion – AirPlay mirroring

AirPlay mirroring will allow you to mirror your Mac's screen to any telly connected to an Apple TV box at a resolution of 1080p. We bet our entire gadget collection that AirPlay mirroring will be built into Apple's long-rumoured upcoming iTV television set.

Apple OS X Mountain Lion – reminders

iOS 5's reminders app now has a fully-fledged OS X Mountain Lion version and makes use of Apple's iCloud to sync across all of your iOS devices. The only missing feature is location based reminders, though admittedly they're much more useful in the more portable iPhone and iPad.

Apple OS X Mountain Lion – Power Nap and Gatekeeper

Available on the next generation MacBook Pro and second generation MacBook Air, Power Nap enables your MacBook to update while it sleeps. As well as downloading and installing software updates, it'll also back up the MacBook using Time Machine, and refresh Mail, Contacts, Calendar and iCloud apps.

The Gatekeeper feature may prove contentious to some – it enables you to restrict app downloads to Apple's own App Store, or install any third party apps. By default, it locks you into the App Store and to Apple-approved third-party apps, and downloads daily security updates.

Apple OS X Mountain Lion – Game Center

Game Center on OS X Mountain Lion will let you play games on your Mac with your iOS-toting friends in real time, as long as there is a Mac version of the title in question. A new Game Kit tool will be available for developers to create compatible Mac titles.

Apple OS X Mountain Lion – Pricing and availability

Mountain Lion will be available in July priced $US20 and will require Lion or Snow Leopard, 2GB of memory and 8GB of available space. It will, of course, be included on new Macs at no additional charge from July; a free upgrade will be available to anyone who bought a Mac on or after June 11th 2012.

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