Monday, June 11, 2012

Apple's 2012 WWDC keynote: new MacBooks, OS X Mountain Lion, iOS 6

Apple gave its keynote at the 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, June 11, at 10:00 a.m. PT, to the typically raucous crowd that attends their Worldwide Developer Conference.

First, Siri started the conference by welcoming the attendees - or at least Siri's voice did. Apple then showed a long (long) promotional video, which showed off how iOS has been embraced by developers. There was a considerable amount of time spent, during the video, on the iPad.

Finally, we arrived at the meat of the keynote.

MacBook Air

Phil Schiller came onstage to discuss new MacBooks. First up: the MacBook Air. The new MacBook Air will carry third-generation Ivy Bridge processors, up to a 2GHz dual-core Intel i7, with up to 8GB of 1600MHz memory and "60 percent faster graphics."

It will support USB2 AND USB3, have 512GB of solid-state storage, and a 720p FaceTime HD camera. The 11-inch model will sport a 1,366 x 768 display resolution, while the 13-inch model come with a resolution of 1,440 x 900.

The 11-incher will run $999 to $1,099, while the 13-inch model will sport $1,199 and $1,499 pricing.

The new Air ships today.

MacBook Pro

As in the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro will carry third-generation Ivy Bridge chips, including up to 2.7GHz quad-core Intel i7s, with Turbo Boost to 3.7GHz, and USB 3.0. The 13-inch model will carry 8GB of 1600MHz memory and 60 percent faster integrated graphics, and will start at $1,199, rising to $1,499 for the faster model.

The 15-inch version runs $1,799, up to $2,199 for the faster model. It carries a discrete GeForce GT 650M graphics card, with up to 1GB of memory and is again 60 percent quicker than the old 15-inch model's discrete graphics.

These new models are also shipping today.

Next up is a brand-new 15.4-inch MacBook Pro, which Apple called the "laptop of the future." This next-generation laptop was created by the Air team. At 0.71-inches thin, it is nearly as thin as a MacBook Air. At 4.46 pounds, it is the lightest MacBook Pro ever.

It has a retina display, though doesn't match the iPhone 4S. It has a resolution of 2,880 x 1,800 on a 15.4-inch screen. That amounts to 220 ppi, while the iPhone 4S supports 236 ppi.

Also changed on the new retina display are higher contrast ratios, better viewing angles, and reduced glare (reduced glare!).

Apple then played another "long" promo video.

The new 15.4-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,199. It carries a discrete GeForce GT 650M graphics card, with up to 1GB of memory. It comes with with a 2.3GHz quad-core chip, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of flash storage at that price and, of course, there are always spec upgrades.

Once again, this model ships today.

Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Apple went into detail on the new features of Mountain Lion, including its connectivity with things like iCloud, iMessage, etc. They also discussed new features such as Notifications and Alerts. If it sounds like a tablet or mobile system, it is.

Notifications slide in but with two fingers, you can gesture your way back to the full list. Meanwhile, alerts stay visible until you dismiss them.

Further discussed were sharing, dictation, Airplay and GameCenter integration, and the company demoed a game, CSR Racing, as well.

Showing the new importance of China, Apple said that MacOS Mountain Lion comes with new input methods, new dictionaries, eight new fonts, along with support for Baidu and other Chinese social networks.

Coming next month, Mountain Lion will cost $19.99, $10 cheaper than Lion; you can pay that same amount to upgrade anything all the way back to Snow Leopard. If you buy one of the new MacBooks above, it won't come with Mountain Lion, but is upgradeable for free.

iOS 6

Scott Forstall came out to discuss Apple's next-generation iOS. Right off the bat, he slammed Google and Android 4.0 by noting that at this point, while Android 4.0 was released at roughly the same time as iOS 5, only about seven percent of Android customers have it. Meanwhile, 365 million iOS devices were sold through March of this year, and 80 percent of Apple's customers are on the latest Apple platform version.

That said, iOS 6 contains than 200 new features, including significant enhancements to a flagship feature still in beta: Siri. That, quite naturally, is the first thing that Apple jumped into: Siri.

In addition to a number of Siri demos came the real news: Apple is integrating with several news companies, such as BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda. In all these cars, it will be integrated with a button right on the steering wheel.

Siri will also expand from the iPhone 4S and reach the "new iPad," Forstall said, which makes sense. As we discussed earlier, we expected Apple to limit Siri distribution to the "new iPad" to reduce server load.

Facebook is integrated into iO6, also as we expected. No more logging in, in multiple places, and Facebook joins micro-blogging service Twitter with integration on iOS.

Incoming calls get a new control, to aid end users in rapidly and efficiently controlling them. You can tap "Reply with Message," or select "Remind Me Later."

Replies of the "Message" nature are something that are already available in Android; this just replies to the call with a text message (something obviously not useful if it is a landline).

The really useful addition is "Remind Me Later." You can choose to have iOS remind you in an hour, when you leave your current location, when you get to work, or when you get home. Those last three are obviously using location-based services.

There is also a new "Do Not Disturb" setting that eliminates all your notifications, including sound and even turning on your screen for a push notification. Nicely, if a person calls you twice within three minutes, the second call goes through, assuming it is some sort of emergency - or a stalker.

FaceTime will finally work over cellular, also.

Passbook ia a new app that takes things like boarding passes, your Starbucks card, Fandango, sports tickets, and more. It will even do things like bring up your Starbucks card when you get close to a Starbucks, right on your lock screen.

They also replaced Google Maps with their own "from the ground up" Maps app. Nothing is really different from Google Maps, but they did add turn-by-turn navigation to the application.

That's pretty much it ... the developer SDK and beta OS goes live today, they added.

No "one more thing" at WWDC 2012, though.

However Apple CEO Tim Cook did finish with the following statement, in which he nearly seemed to be tearing up:

"Only Apple could make such amazing hardware, software and services. We are so proud of these products because they are perfect examples of what Apple does best. And, ultimately, it's why people choose to come and work at Apple -- and with Apple.

"To do the very best work of their lives. To great great products that empower people to do great things. To make a difference in so many lives around the world. The products we make, combined with the apps you make, can fundamentally change the world.

"And really, I can't think of a better reason of getting up in the morning.

No iPhone, but we didn't expect it, either. That's it until the next Apple mega-presentation, which we believe will be in October with the iPhone 5.

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