Mountain Lion (OSX version 10.8) has lots of updates that integrate social networking and make your desktop more like iOS.

This morning, Apple announced that the developer preview version of its upcoming 006Fperating system (named Mountain Lion) is now available. The biggest changes highlighted so far are the moves the OS is making towards social networking integration. In a nutshell, it looks like Apple wants to make your Mac a giant, home version of your iPad or iPhone.

Apple was headed this direction with its last operating system release, OSX 10.7 (known as Lion). It was released in July 2011 but currently only 30% of Mac users have it installed. 50% still have the iteration before that installed, Snow Leopard. Lion was released immediately after the iPad hit and took over the market. Apple developers saw the success of some iPad features and put them into the Lion released, such as multitouch gestures for the trackpad and a launchpad of apps to make the Mac desktop look like the iPad home screen.

The biggest iOS features that made it onto Mountain Lion’s list of new updates include: reminders, iMesage, Game Center, Notifications, iCloud, and Twitter integration. And most of all, Mountain Lion’s implementation of these new features looks just like they do on the iPad, and best of all: all of your information can sync up with your iOS mobile devices.

In light of the updates, some classic aspects of Mac use have gotten tossed out. For example, there’s no longer a need to have bouncing icons in the dock, because Notifications displays a banner on the side of the screen to alert users to new information from programs.

iChat got the axe as well, replaced with iMessage. iMessage still lets users instant message people in their contact list but Apple’s hope is that customers will drop the IM for simply texting other iMessage users. Texting from your desktop, for free? That’s something I can get behind.

Airplay is another new element that has been added to Mountain Lion, which allows users to mirror their desktop to their HDTV. Game Center will enable users to play the same game with the same characters and information across users’ iPads, iPhones, and desktops.

One of the biggest surprises was the new operating system’s in-depth integration (or allowance for developers to integrate) of Twitter into many aspects of the new OS. Applications that now let users tweet include Safari and Photo Booth. But, Apple has come out with a Share Sheet, which means developers can put a “Tweet this!” button on just about anything you can think of.

Other third-party apps that are getting screen time on Mountain Lion are Flickr and Vimeo. These buttons will also be on the Share Sheet that is available to add to any app, and will let users share their content. However in China, Youku and Toudu are more popular video and photo-sharing applications, and will replace the Flickr and Vimeo on the Share Sheet.

It’s not completely known why Apple chooses to integrate with some social networks and not others, but Mashable hypothesized that services like Twitter and Flickr have more robust APIs with deeper integration available, whereas an API like say, Facebook’s, is fairly limited.

A big question mark after hearing all about this is the price tag. Apple didn’t announce what the bottom line would be for customers. It could be that Apple sees this new adaptation of its desktop OS to iOS as a reason for a hefty price hike, but we’re all crossing our fingers this isn’t the case.

Despite this new direction, Apple doesn’t seem to want to integrate its mobile and desktop operating systems entirely. The company is still making concentrated efforts to further its Mac store. Developers have to release two versions of their apps, one for iOS and one for Mountain Lion.

If you’re interested in other Apple products, we recently covered Apple’s latest foray into the world of education. Check out that blog post to see more about one aspect of Apple’s business that doesn’t always get to share the spotlight with its other hardware and software.