Summary: iPhone 3GS, MacBook updates, Snow Leopard highlight WWDC

Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from PCWorld.com.

Apple announced a host of new products Monday before an audience of developers and media attending its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Among the announcements during Monday’s keynote, the company updated its MacBook Pro product line, launched a new version of its Safari Web browser, offered a preview of its upcoming Snow Leopard operating system, and readied iPhone 3.0 for market.

New notebooks

First up in its presentation, Apple showed off new MacBook Pro laptops, including a new version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. With a longer-lasting battery (similar to that featured in the existing 17-inch model), the new machine will have a battery life of up to seven hours, two hours longer than its predecessor. It also features a nicer display, an SD card slot in place of the former Express Card slot, and support for up to 8GB of RAM. It will be available with processor speeds up to 3.06GHz and 6MB L2 cache, making it the fastest notebook Apple has made to date.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro has also been refreshed with a 2.8GHz processor and a 500GB hard drive.

The 13-inch unibody aluminum MacBook has received a bump up in status, making it a MacBook Pro. Unlike its predecessors, it will now feature support for 8GB of RAM and 500GB of storage, with the option of a 256GB SSD drive.

Apple has dropped the prices of its notebook line as well. The 13-inch MacBook pro will range from $1,199 to $1,499, the 15-inch model will range from $1,699 to $2,299, and the 17-inch model will cost $2,499. All models are now shipping.

More on Apple's laptop announcements

Snow Leopard

The long-anticipated update to Apple's OS X Leopard operating system, dubbed Snow Leopard, made an appearance in the demo. Coming in September, Snow Leopard will run faster than the current operating system, and will include updates to all of its apps. Mail will run faster, as will Preview and other integrated apps.

Business users will be able to use Microsoft Exchange servers with Mail, iCal, and Address Book. In a demo of the new features, Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Bertrand Serlet explained that the three built-in contact, scheduling, and e-mail apps will now feature Exchange configuration as a standard option. Users can simply enter their Exchange e-mail address and password, and Snow Leopard will automatically configure all three apps at once.

Snow Leopard will also include updates to Exposé, Quicktime, and its underlying graphics technology, which will be based on the OpenCL standard.

Come September, Snow Leopard will sell for $129, with an upgrade for existing Leopard users available for $29.

More on Apple’s Snow Leopard preview

Apple’s Web browser, Safari, has also received a refresh, and ships today in version 4 for Leopard, Tiger, and Windows. Safari 4 includes better handling of browser plug-ins, which will allow the browser to continue functioning if a plug-in such as Flash crashes while viewing a page.

iPhone 3.0

The most talked-about bunch of updates Apple unveiled at WWDC came from its iPhone 3.0 software upgrade, which purportedly adds 100 new features to the iPhone. Critics have long stressed the need for cut, copy, and paste features across the iPhone OS, and those features are now built in. Also, all key apps in the iPhone now feature landscape mode to maximize screen width. And in the U.S., iPhones on the AT&T network will finally feature MMS support later this summer.

Search features have also been enhanced in iPhone 3.0 with the addition of Spotlight. This will enable users to search not only their contacts, but also calendar entries, notes, e-mail, and even apps on the device.

iTunes will now allow iPhone users to purchase or rent movies directly from the device, and Apple has added parental controls that will restrict the kinds of movies, shows, and apps that children can run on the phone or iPod touch.

For Mobile Me customers, Apple will offer a service called Find My iPhone, which will locate a lost or stolen device (if it's turned on).

As promised in a previous iPhone announcement, iPhone 3.0 includes push notification for instant messaging and other applications.

Perhaps the most exciting update for iPhone 3.0 is the addition of tethering capabilities. At last, users who are away from their Wi-Fi network will be able to use the iPhone's cellular broadband connections to connect their laptop to the Internet. This feature will work via USB or Bluetooth, and is supported by 22 carriers in 44 countries.Unfortunately, AT&T is not one of the carriers supporting this feature, which leaves U.S. iPhone customers wanting.

The iPhone 3.0 software is available to developers today, and ships to customers next Wednesday.

More on the iPhone 3.0 release

Along with the updates iPhone software, Apple is releasing new iPhone hardware. The iPhone 3GS will sell for $199 in a 16GB version and $299 in a 32GB version. The existing iPhone 3G will continue to be available at a price of $99. (All prices with a 2-year AT&T contract.)

The iPhone 3GS will be faster than the iPhone 3G, and will include video capture, voice control, built-in support for Nike+ accessories, hardware encryption for Exchange users, and improved battery life. The phone will be available on June 19.

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