New Mac operating system goes on sale Wednesday

Associated Press
In this  Thursday, July 19, 2012, photo an Apple customer Shayan Hooshmand, 11, uses PhotoBooth on a 21.5-inch iMac at an Apple store in Palo Alto, Calif. Apple Inc. reports quarterly financial results after the market closes on Tuesday, July 24. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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In this Thursday, July 19, 2012, photo an Apple customer Shayan Hooshmand, 11, uses PhotoBooth on a 21.5-inch iMac at an Apple store in Palo Alto, Calif. Apple Inc. reports quarterly financial results after the market closes on Tuesday, July 24. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple Inc. released its new operating system for Mac computers on Wednesday, with features borrowed from mobile devices and a tighter integration with online file storage.

Dubbed Mountain Lion, the new software narrows the gap between the PC and phone software packages, making Mac personal computers work more like iPhones and iPads.

It's similar to what Microsoft Corp. is doing with its forthcoming Windows 8 system. That system, to be released Oct. 26, will bring the look and user interface of Windows Phone to PCs.

Mountain Lion costs $20 and is being sold only as a download. Only computers running the two most recent versions of Mac OS, Lion and Snow Leopard, can be upgraded.

Macs bought on or after June 11 can be upgraded for free.

Among the features of Mountain Lion:

— The new software has better integration with social networks such as Twitter. Facebook integration is coming this fall. It has built-in features to facilitate sharing on such services. For instance, you'll get notifications when you get a message or a mention in a Facebook or Twitter post. You need to sign in only once, and you can share directly from other apps you are using.

— Power Nap keeps your Mac updated even while it's in power-saving "sleep" mode. It will get your email messages, back up your files and download software updates automatically. It will work with recent MacBook Air computers and the higher-end MacBook Pro model, the one with the sharper, "Retina" display.

— A new Messages app, copied from Apple's mobile operating system, replaces iChat. It will allow you to send messages to other Apple users, whether that person is on a Mac or an Apple mobile device.

— Mountain Lion integrates with iCloud, the new Internet storage service designed for the mobile devices.

— The software brings dictation to Macs, essentially allowing the computer to type as you talk.

— Game Center stores high game scores and helps users find opponents on both Macs and Apple mobile devices.

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