Apple ushered in a next-generation MacBook Pro, announced a firmer ship date for its Mountain Lion operating system, and gave the world its first glimpse at iOS 6 during an announcement-packed Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on Monday.
Both Mountain Lion and iOS announcements were expected at the annual gathering of Mac and iOS developers. The laptop update—while rumored in advance of Monday’s keynote—marks something of a departure for Apple, which has announced most of its Mac updates via press release in the last few years.
Looking at the updated MacBook Pro, however, it’s easy to see why Apple chose such a major venue for the laptop’s coming-out party. Billed as the next-generation MacBook Pro, the newly introduced model features a Retina display—the same kind of high-density display Apple previously featured on its phones and tablets. The 15.4-inch laptop sports a 2880-by-1800 resolution, offering four times the number of pixels as the previous MacBook Pro model.
The MacBook Pro with Retina display runs on a 2.3GHz quad-core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM. It features an Nvidia GeForce Gt 650M graphics processor with 1GB of VRAM, 256GB of flash storage, and up to 16GB of 1600MHz RAM. The new model costs $2199.
Apple also plans to retain its current MacBook Pro lineup, offering two 13-inch models, with a 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor and a 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 chip; those models cost $1199 and $1499, respectively. The 15-inch MacBook Pro configurations include a 2.3GHz quad-core Core i7 model for $1799 and a 2.6GHz quad-core Core i7 laptop for $2199.
Those weren’t the only changes to Apple’s notebook offerings. The MacBook Air lineup also underwent an overhaul, with the latest models getting new processors and adding USB 3.0 connectivity. Also included in the MacBook Pro update, the USB ports actually support both USB 2 and USB 3 connections; users will be able to plug into the ports on either side of the ultra-thin laptop.
Apple dropped the price of its MacBook Air models by $100. The 11-inch configuration now starts at $999 for a 1.7GHz dual-core Core i5-powered version with 64GB of flash-based storage; a second 11-inch model with 128GB of storage sells for $1099. The 13-inch MacBook Airs cost $1199 and $1499 for 128GB and 256GB of storage, respectively; both models run on a 1.8GHz dual-core i5 chip.
As for Mountain Lion, the next version of Apple’s Mac operating system now has a firmer ship date—it will arrive in July. When Apple previewed Mountain Lion back in February, it would only say to expect the update during the summer of 2012.
Mountain Lion has a price tag, too: It’ll cost $20 to update. You’ll need to run Mac OS X 10.6 or later, and updates will only be available through the Mac App Store. Buy one of Apple’s new laptops, however, and you can upgrade to Mountain Lion for free.
While Monday’s keynote recapped many features Apple had already talked about, the presentation covered a few new Mountain Lion capabilities—Dictation on the Mac and Power Nap. The former feature brings system-wide dictation to the Mac OS, working anywhere that you can type—including third-party apps. Power Nap will be exclusive to the new MacBook Air and Pro models; it keeps your Mac up-to-date when the laptop isn’t in use, syncing email, calendar appointments, notes, reminders, and Photo Stream.
Apple’s mobile operating system got some love as well on Monday. The company previewed iOS 6, which boasts 200 new features and enhancements, according to Apple. It will arrive this fall and will support the iPhone 3GS and later, the iPad 2 and later, and the fourth-generation iPod touch.
iOS 6 is highlighted by new Siri features—including Siri support for the third-generation iPad—and changes to the Maps app. Apple says it built an entirely new map offering from the ground up, with local search, turn-by-turn navigation, and a 3D model called Flyover that showcases major metropolitan areas.
iOS 6 also features improvements to the phone app, FaceTime, Safari, and Mail. A new Passbook feature stores things like boarding passes, tickets, and affinity cards, while accessibility improves with Guided Access features.
Mac users yearning for a new Mac Pro finally have their wish—Apple on Monday quietly released an update to the tower Mac, nearly two years after its last update. And the prices of the new Mac Pros have not changed from the previous models.
Apple offers two standard configurations of the Mac Pro. The $2499 model features a 3.2GHz quad-core Xeon W3565 processor, which is capable of a speed of 3.46GHz using Turbo Boost. The processor also supports Hyper-Threading for up to eight virtual cores, and has 8MB of L3 cache. The $3799 model has two 2.4GHz six-core Xeon E5645 processors, with Turbo Boost performance up to 2.67GHz. The E5645 also has Hyper-Threading (24 virtual cores) and 12MB of L3 cache.
The $2499 Mac Pro has 6GB of 1066MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM, while the $3499 Mac Pro has 12GB of 1333MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM. Both Mac Pro models come with a 7200-rpm 1TB hard drive, with the three other hard drive bays open for customization. For video, the Mac Pro comes standard with a 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770 PCI Express cards. The 5770 has two Mini DisplayPorts and a dual-link DVI port.
The previous $2499 model had a 2.8GHz quad-core Xeon W3530 processor with 3GB of 1066MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM, a 1TB hard drive and a 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card. The previous $3499 model had two 2.4GHz quad-core Xeon E5620 processors with 6GB of 1066MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM, a 1TB hard drive and a 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card.
In Monday’s keynote address at its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple revealed several new tidbits about Mountain Lion—including its ship-date.
Apple’s vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, took the stage to announce that Apple’s newest OS X release will be ready for consumers to download in July. He also chose eight new features to highlight during the keynote, including some—such as Dictation on the Mac and Power Nap—that weren't included in the Mountain Lion preview we saw in February.
OS X Lion already integrates with Apple’s iCloud service, but Mountain Lion is taking that integration a step further with Documents in the Cloud. The February demo briefly touched on this feature, showing off integration in Preview;
at the keynote, Federighi announced that the cloud data service will now be integrated with other Apple apps (including the iWork suite).
Though Siri only arrived eight months ago with the iPhone 4S, senior vice president for iOS software Scott Forstall says the feature is already quite accomplished. In iOS 6, though, Siri is significantly enhanced. For one, it knows more about sports. You can ask baseball questions like “What was the score in the last Giants game?”, “What is Buster Posey’s batting average?”, or “What are the National League standings?”
Siri knows basketball too, Forstall explained. He asked Siri “Who is taller, LeBron or Kobe?” And Siri knows about the NFL, as well; during his demo at WWDC, Forstall asked Siri, “When is the San Francisco 49ers first game of the season?” and got an answer. Other sports Siri will support include hockey and soccer.
Siri also knows a lot more about restaurants, Forstall said. It now includes more details when you look for eateries—results are sorted by rating, include average meal prices and restaurant styles, hours, reservations (via Open Table), integrated Yelp reviews, and more.
As if new MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs weren't enough, Apple has gone and updated another piece of hardware: its venerable AirPort Express. Apple has also released an update to iOS's AirPort Utility that supports configuration of the new device as well as support for IPv6.
The little Wi-Fi access point hadn’t been updated since 2008; Monday’s revision refines it both inside and out. The Express's exterior now makes it look like a white Apple TV; instead of an HDMI port, however, its sports ethernet WAN and LAN connectors, a USB port, and an analog/optical audio jack.
The standout feature of the Retina-display model is the brand-new, high-density display. The new MacBook Pro's 15.4-inch (diagonal) screen has four times the number of pixels as the previous model at 2880 (horizontal) by 1800 (vertical), for a total of 5,184,000 pixels or 220 pixels per inch.
Despite its glossy screen, it has a 178-degree wide viewing angle, has 75 percent less reflection, and 29 percent higher contrast than the previous generation, Apple says. The company says it was able to achieve this reduction in glare by building the layers of the display into the laptop’s Unibody frame, eliminating the need for a separate cover of glass.
The laptop has a 2.3GHz quad-core i7 processor with 8GB of 1600MHz RAM (upgradeable to up to 16GB), a GeForce GT 650M graphics processor with 1GB of VRAM, and 256GB of flash storage.
The new, Retina-display-bearing MacBook Pro was in our offices Monday afternoon. While we'll start lab testing it and getting our review going, I got a chance to poke and prod it for a few hours. Here are some quick initial impressions.
First off, this disclaimer: I've been using an 11-inch MacBook Air for so long now, it's very hard for me to judge a 15-inch laptop. It feels enormous to me. But fans of the current 15-inch MacBook Pro will notice that this new laptop is actually quite a bit thinner than the current model, a bit lighter, and slightly narrower.
That all said, this is in many ways the 15-inch answer to the MacBook Air. Gone is the optical drive, spinning hard drive, FireWire port, and Gigabit Ethernet jack of past models; instead, it's all solid-state storage, Thunderbolt and USB 3 ports, and HDMI.
On the right side of the case, there's an SD card reader, an HDMI port, and a single USB 3 port. Compare this to the previous MacBook Pro, which offered nothing but the slot-loading optical drive.
On Monday, Apple offered the first glimpse of iOS 6 during the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. Though the updated mobile operating system won’t arrive until sometime this fall, it’s never too early to start drooling over the new features. We already covered the flagship features of iOS 6—like seriously updated Siri, majorly overhauled Maps, and systemwide Facebook integration—so here’s a look at some cool features coming in iOS 6 that you may have missed.
A new Share screen
In iOS 5, when you tap to share a photo, you get a long list of sharing actions to choose from—whether it’s posting to Twitter, sending an email or iMessage, or some other option. iOS 6 adds Facebook sharing as an option, along with sharing to various Chinese social networks. (That’s a nod to how important the Chinese market has become to Apple.) But Apple decided against cramming more buttons into that panel.
Instead, iOS 6 presents you with a new, icon-based sharing screen. It uses icons to represent the apps and services that you can share your content with and looks quite a bit like the iPhone’s home screen.
Monday was Keynote day at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, and indeed, there’s lots to talk about. New MacBook Pros with retina displays! More information about Mountain Lion! The debut of iOS 6! Joining me are three people who were at the keynote—Editorial Director Jason Snell and Senior Editors Dan Frakes and Dan Moren. We talk about what Apple announced, what it didn’t announce, and what it all means.
Listen to episode 305
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