Next month, Apple will release its new operating system for Mac computers.
Dubbed Mountain Lion, Mac OS X 10.8 will cost $19.99 _ $10 cheaper than what the current system, Lion, costs. Those buying Mac computers starting on Monday will get the upgrade for free when it's available.
Apple Inc. already demonstrated many of the Mountain Lion features in February. The new software narrows the gap between the PC and phone software packages, making Mac personal computers work more like iPhones.
It's similar to what Microsoft Corp. is doing with its forthcoming Windows 8 system. That system, expected this fall, will bring the look and user interface of Windows Phone to PCs.
Among the features of Mountain Lion:
_ The new software will have better integration with social networks such as Facebook Inc.'s. It will have built-in features to facilitate sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other 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, will replace 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 will be integrated with iCloud, the new Internet storage service designed for the mobile devices.
_ The software will bring dictation to Macs, essentially allowing the computer to type as you talk.
_ Game Center will store high game scores and help users find opponents on both Macs and Apple mobile devices.
Apple said the Facebook integration features won't be available right away. The company did not say exactly when in July the Mountain Lion software will be available, nor did it say when the Facebook features will be ready.
Upgrades will be available as a download through Apple's Mac App Store. Those upgrading must already have either the Lion or Snow Leopard operating systems on their Macs.