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Apple has announced a new OS X: Mountain Lion

Mac OS X Mountain Lion

How does the new cat purr? Check out our full OS X Mountain Lion review to find out.

There’s a new cat roaring out of the Apple headquarters. Less than a year after the release of OS X Lion, Apple has announced its first operation system post-iCloud, Mountain Lion, with a preview released for developers this morning.

The biggest upgrade to the ninth version of this Mac OS is the integration of Apple’s iCloud data-syncing capabilities, making changes between all your iOS devices synonymous. The new OS X will also include some of the applications found in the mobile iOS 5, such as iMessage, Reminders and Notes. The iChat as we know it will no longer exist as the iMessage feature (renamed as Messages on Mountain Lion) can be used to chat and send text messages or images to any device that also runs iMessage. And because data is transferred over the Internet, there are no charges to send SMS texts to phones. That sure will be helpful if you run over your data plan, forget or lose your phone, or are in a place where you cannot use cellphones.

Messages for Mac also allows you to let people know when you’ve received and read their messages, and when you’re typing a response. What was formerly iChat’s video chat feature will now integrate with other iOS devices that run FaceTime so you can utilize the app from home or on the go. In addition to making this new Mac OS more social, Twitter has also been added across various Mac applications, including buttons to share items from Safari, Photo Booth and iPhoto. Users can also add the location of each tweets, or share the media on other sites such as Flickr via a “Share Sheet” menu found in most apps.

Speaking of sharing, Mountain Lion will also allow users to share screens with a high-definition television connected to a second generation Apple TV. This AirPlay mirroring process streams what’s happening on your Mac’s screen to the Apple TV, which then beams the screen to your HDTV. For example, instead of using Apple TV’s apps for YouTube and iTunes, you can directly play media from your Mac wirelessly to your television. This feature render the Apple TV apps a bit useless, but it does provide convenience now that the user doesn’t have to use the remote to slowly type in search terms.

While these are the major upgrades we’ve seen so far in Mountain Lion, what’s noticeably missing is Apple’s most talked-about new feature, Siri. Is Apple planning to restrict the virtual assistant to mobile devices, or will it surprise us with her inclusion later as the OS continues to be finalized? Only time will tell: Mountain Lion will come as a downloadable upgrade to Lion via the App Store, and Lion users will be able to download a beta version of Messages beginning today. A full, commercial release of Mountain Lion is slated to arrive this summer.