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Messages is a new application that stores all of your iMessages and text messages on your iPhone or iPad. You can take a photo from your iPhone, send it, and see replies on your Mac. You can also send location data and photos.
As you would expect, it also does good ol' fashioned instant messaging and text messaging -- or "legacy chat" -- as Apple calls it.
There are new Settings in "Mountain Lion", such as Notifications, Spotlight changes, and Dictation & Speech. You will also note that since iCloud's release, there is no longer a MobileMe option.