Apple to release Mac OS X Mountain Lion in July, upgrades cost $19.99

Apple's new senior vice president of Mac Software Engineering Craig Federighi, took to the stage at Apple’s WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) today to show off the final features to be included in the next version of the Mac operating system, Mac OS X Mountain Lion alongisde new Mac models.

OS X Mountain Lion will be available in July from the Mac App Store for $19.99 in the US (around £12.67). Apple says UK pricing will be announced closer to launch. Mountain Lion requires Lion or Snow Leopard (OS X v10.6.8 or later), 2GB of memory and 8GB of available space.

A key new feature is the implementation of Voice Dictation, found on the iPhone 4S and iPad, in Mac OS X. Apple's effective Voice Dictation technology enables you to dictate notes, articles, and messages to your computer using your voice. Voice Dictation is built into the heart of Mac OS X Mountain Lion and will work with any app or program, including third-party programs such as Microsoft Word.

Another new feature called Power Nap enables Mac OS X to keep your Mac up to date while it sleeps. During sleep mode your Mac will still continue to fetch emails, sync calendars, and update your iPhoto Stream. This new feature will enable Mac OS X to act more like an iOS device when asleep, and still fetch new information. It can also perform a Time Machine backup in sleep mode.

This is expected to be the final demonstration of the operating system, which integrates features from iOS into the Mac, and now sports new interface elements and design and introduces new visual elements such as the Glass Dock.

A key component of Mountain Lion is further integration with Apple’s iCloud service, which stores users information and documents in Apple’s cloud system. Users migrating from an iOS device to Mac OS X will find all Contacts, Mail, Calendar, Messages, FaceTime, and Find My Mac automatically set up on the computer.

There is also a new version of Safari which has integrated search and URL fields (in a similar fashion to Google Chrome). It also sports a new gesture interface that enables you to move between pages using multi-touch gestures with a mode called Tab View.

Another new feature called iCloud Tabs enables users to share open web pages between iOS and Mac devices.

Apple today announced that its communication system, Messages, will also support the sharing of images and high-definition video.

Documents In The Cloud is also interated to the operating system, enabling users to work on a document on one device, and have changes made instantly on other Mac OS X and iOS device. Apple is also due to release a Developer SDK for developers to add support in their apps as well.

The Notification Center from iOS has also been introduced into Mac OS X. Craig Federighi said "Apps had their own way of getting your attention. Mountain Lion has replaced all of this with a consistent system based on banners and alerts." Notification Center also integrates with services such as Twitter so you can tweet right from Notification Center instead of using the Twitter app (or website). Notification Centre even works with Voice Dictation so you can speak tweets.

Apple is also taking Game Center from iOS and bringing it to Mac OS X. Craig Federighi said "It's a renaissance of gaming on the Mac... Game Center from iOS to the Mac. Same account with all your friends, achievements, and keep track of all your iOS and OS X games." Game Center will bring support for head-to-head and turn-based gaming.

Mac OS X also introduces Gatekeeper, a security system that determines the validity of third-party Mac apps in a similar vein to Mac App Store. Mac programs distributed outside of the Mac App Store can be digital signed with Apple to confirm their validity. The user can choose to install apps only via the Mac App Store, apps that have been signed by Apple and all apps.

It is hoped this feature will provide a new level of security to Apple computers.

The operating system is to be distributed via the Mac App Store.

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