Apple’s latest operating system, Mountain Lion, is inching closer to launch. Following the company’s announcement at WWDC 2012 that Mountain Lion would be available to consumers in July, the Gold Master version of the operating system is available for download at the company’s developer site. Mountain Lion Gold Master is the developer preview of the OS, available through the MacDev Center.

Priced at $19.99, Mountain Lion is the ninth major iteration of Apple’s operating system. Mountain Lion introduces more than 200  features, including the new Messages app, Notification Center, system-wide Sharing, Facebook integration, Dictation, Power Nap, AirPlay Mirroring, Game Center and Gatekeeper. Apple claims that with iCloud built into the foundation of OS X, Mountain Lion makes it easier than ever to keep one’s content up to date across all your devices.

Will not prowl on all Macs

Mountain Lion one step closer to launch

This upgrade might not be available for all Mac users as Mountain Lion requires Lion or Snow Leopard (OS X v10.6.8 or later), 2GB of memory and 8GB of available space. For a complete list of system requirements and compatible systems, please click this link. The OS X Mountain Lion Up-to-Date upgrade is available at no additional charge via the Mac App Store to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after June 11, 2012.

Apple states that by using your iCloud account, Mountain Lion makes it easier than ever to set up one’s Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, Reminders and Notes. The new Reminders and Notes apps help you remember important tasks and jot down your thoughts quickly, while iCloud automatically keeps everything up to date. Documents in the Cloud works with iCloud-enabled apps which include Apple’s iWork suite, so one can always access and edit their documents on any device.

The new Messages app replaces iChat and brings iMessage to the Mac, allowing one to send messages to anyone with an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or another Mac. With this feature, one can include attachments, high quality photos and HD video, and their iMessages appear on all their devices allowing one to pick up a conversation right where you left off. iMessage includes group messaging, delivery and read receipts, typing indicators and secure end-to-end encryption. The Messages app also supports traditional instant messaging services, including AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk and Jabber.

Notification Center
Mountain Lion streamlines the presentation of notifications, and with Notification Center one can see all their notifications from OS X and third party apps in one convenient place. One can customize which apps send you notifications, the type of notification they wish to receive, and how many items are shown in Notification Center. When one wants to focus on their work or watch a movie, they can choose to temporarily suspend all notifications.

New system-wide Sharing is built into Mountain Lion, making it easier than ever to share links, photos, videos and other files. Clicking the Share button allows a user to share quickly without having to switch to another app, and they just need to sign in once to use third-party services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo. Facebook and Twitter are integrated with Notification Center so you can receive notifications when someone sends a message or mentions the user in a post or Tweet.

Facebook Integration
With built-in support for Facebook, one can post photos, links and comments with locations right from their apps. Once they’ve signed in, their Facebook friends automatically appear in Contacts with their profile photos. Your Facebook notifications work with Notification Center in Mountain Lion, and you can even update your Facebook status from within Notification Center. Facebook integration will be available in an upcoming software update to Mountain Lion.

Additional new features in Mountain Lion include:

  • AirPlay Mirroring, an easy way to wirelessly send an up-to-1080p secure stream of what’s on your Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV, or send audio to a receiver or speakers that use AirPlay.
  • Game Center, which brings the popular social gaming network from iOS to the Mac so one can enjoy live, multiplayer games with friends whether they’re on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
  • A faster Safari with a unified Smart Search Field, iCloud Tabs that present their open tabs across their devices, and a new Tab View to quickly swipe through them.
  • New features for China, including significantly improved text input, a new Chinese Dictionary, easy setup with popular email providers, Baidu search in Safari, built-in sharing to Sina Weibo and popular video websites Youku and Tudou.
  • Over 1,700 new APIs that give developers access to the latest core OS and web technologies, as well as the newest features of OS X, including Documents in the Cloud, Notifications, Sharing and Game Center.

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