Stunning laptops and new operating systems shown off at opening keynote of Apple’s WWDC 2012 event.
A facelift for iPhone’s voice-control Siri application, an updated MacBook Air and an all-new MacBook Pro (touted as the most advanced Mac ever) dominated the opening keynote of Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) earlier this evening.
Though there was plenty of new hardware to be seen, much of the event focused on the new features added to Apple’s updated mobile operating system, iOS 6. Things even got started with Siri giving a ‘stand-up’ routine – complete with drum rolls.
“How many developers does it take to change a lightbulb? None, that’s a hardware problem,” it deadpanned. Badoom, tish.
“Seriously, I am excited about the new Samsung. Not the phone, the refrigerator,” it continued, as developers rolled in the aisles.
After that hilarity, it was onto the serious stuff. Read on for the highlights from Apple’s WWDC keynote.
It wouldn’t be an Apple keynote without an introductory stat attack. Apple CEO Tim Cook whipped up the crowd’s excitement levels by announcing that Apple App Store customers have now downloaded 30 billion apps. There are now 650,000 apps on the App Store – 225,000 of which have been designed specifically for the iPad.
MacBook Air gets speed boost
“It is a breakthrough, and everyone is trying to copy it. But, they’re finding it’s not so easy,” said Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller, as he introduced the latest generation of MacBook Air. Improvements to Apple’s razor-thin portable include the addition of the latest Ivy Bridge processors. There’s the option of Core i5 or Core i7 dual-core processors – with the fastest option a 2.0GHz dual-core i7. There’s 4GB of 1600MHz memory (configurable up to 8GB) and the integrated graphics chip is “up to 60% faster” says Apple.
The Air’s solid-state storage has been boosted – now up to 512GB, while the new laptop also boasts two USB 3.0 ports. The 13-inch model houses a 1440 x 900 resolution display, with a 1366 x 768 resolution display remaining on the 11-inch model. There’s a 720p FaceTime HD camera, too. US prices start at $999, with UK prices yet to be announced.
Refreshed MacBook Pro
Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors also show up in the updated MacBook Pro (Intel Core i5 or Core i7 dual-core processors are offered up to 2.9 GHz). Both the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro can be configured with a 1TB hard drive or solid-state drives up to 512GB. Both can pack up to 8GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce GT 650M discrete graphics. There’s a high-speed Thunderbolt port and two USB 3.0 ports. The 13-inch model starts at £999, the 15-inch model at £1,499.
Retina display goes Pro
But the big hardware announcement came as Apple hit back at the current wave of MacBook-Air-inspired Ultrabooks with a radically redesigned next-gen MacBook Pro. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display features a 2880 x 1800 resolution screen in a remarkably thin and light casing. Measuring a mere 18mm deep and weighing just a shade over 2kg “the MacBook Pro with Retina display pushes the limits of performance and portability like no other notebook,” said Cook.
“The most advanced Mac”
Cook described the new MacBook Pro as “the most advanced Mac we have ever built,” showing off a screen that’s described by Apple as “the world’s highest resolution notebook display with over five million pixels, three million more than an HD television”. The MacBook Pro with Retina display features the latest Intel Core i7 quad-core processors up to 2.7GHz, Nvidia GeForce GT 650M discrete graphics, up to 16GB of 1600MHz RAM, flash storage up to 768GB, two Thunderbolt ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Want one? You’d best start saving – the new MacBook Pro with Retina display starts at £1,799.
Mountain Lion incoming
Apple also announced the availability of Mountain Lion, and revealed the new operating system will have more than 200 new features. Built into the operating system is iCloud, which enables much greater integration with apps. Messages replaces iChat, enabling users to instantly communicate across all Apple devices. The operating system includes integration for services such as Facebook and Twitter, so you get an instant notification through the Notification Center when you get a Facebook message or Twitter @reply. Dication is built in, so you can dictate text anywhere you can type. The operating system will be available in July from the Mac App Store for US$19.99 (UK price to be announced).
iOS 6 coming this autumn
Also detailed was iOS 6 – the operating system for Apple’s mobile devices. It also has more than 200 new features, including FaceTime over 3G, the ability to share Photo Streams with your friends, improved Mail features and the ability to read your desktop Safari tabs on your phone through iCloud Tabs.
Siri got smarter
As part of the new iOS 6 operating system unveil, we also got news of updates to Apple’s voice recognition application Siri. Siri will now be able to tell you even more than ever, including latest sports scores and stats, cinema listings, restaurant suggestions (along with links to reviews) and even launch apps or update your Facebook status. It’s also getting support for more languages and for local search around the world – something currently only available in the US – as well as coming to the new iPad.
Siri is coming to your car
Apple announced Siri would soon be coming to selected cars – integrating the personal assistant into a button on the steering wheel. Simply press it to speak to Siri, without taking your eyes off the road. BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda are among the car companies promising support for this within 12 months.
Improved Facebook integration
Similar to the great Twitter integration already available on iOS, you’ll now be able to sign into Facebook just once and have those credentials shared across numerous apps on your iPhone or iPad. Upload a picture straight to Facebook from the Photos app, post links to sites from Safari and even ‘like’ apps within the App Store, as well as see what friends have liked.
“I’ll call you later”
If you’ve ever been in a meeting, muted a call but then forgot to call them back afterwards, a new feature on iOS 6 will ensure that never happens again. When a call comes in you have an option to set a reminder to return the call (which can be location based such as ‘when I get home’) or send them a message (choose from standard templates or create your own). Even better, if you’re really busy you can set your phone to ‘do not disturb’, allowing no calls – or only calls from certain people – through the net to bother your busy schedule.
With iOS 6 comes a new maps app designed by Apple itself. No doubt ticked off by all the cool features Google was adding to its Android maps application and not the one on the iPhone, Apple has decided to take maps on itself, offering a more fully featured proposition. It is still working on a traffic service and turn-by-turn navigation, but has confirmed it will integrate with Siri so you need never type your destination again. It also features a 3D flyover view of cities, very similar to what we saw Google announce last week.
Apple announced that iOS 6 will support 3GS iPhones and above, second generation iPads and above and the fourth generation iPod touch and above. Could we see it launch with the new iPhone, perhaps? Only time will tell…
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