Monday, June 11, 2012

Live coverage: Apple unveils its latest MacBooks and software

Gadgetbox at MSNBC
Stephen Lam / Reuters
Apple Inc CEO Time Cook speaks from onstage during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2012 in San Francisco on June 11.
After a witty intro by Siri herself, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage in San Francisco to welcome developers and announce new stuff. Cook had a lot to say about the success of the app program, with 30 billion downloads of 650,000 distinct apps worldwide.
Wilson Rothman /
Siri welcomes WWDC crowd.
Once Cook rattled off the specs, they played a video about the success of apps, from one that a blind man built to help seeing-impaired people get around, to the successful Airbnb, a place for couch surfers to find homes away from home, to a speech therapy tool for iPad that's helping a little girl learn how to communicate. It may be marketing, but parts are truly touching. Needless to say, the developers applauded profusely. 
"We would like to thank everyone in the developer community for the incredible apps that you've done for us," says Cook.
Wilson Rothman /
Phil Schiller unveils new super thin, "retina display" 15-inch MacBook Pro.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Apple SVP of Worldwide marketing Phil Schiller announces new MacBook Pro at WWDC 2012 in San Francisco.
New MacBooks
Next, global marketing VP Phil Schiller announced updates to the MacBook line. The Air gets MacBook Air gets 3rd-gen Core chips, up to 2GHz dual-core i7. It also gets storage up to 512 GB Flash storage, with 2X read speed. And it gets USB 3.0 and a 720p camera. The new models start shipping today.
The 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros get Ivy Bridge processors, a new-generation GeForce graphics card and USB 3.0, while the prices stay the same.
But the big news is the "next generation" MacBook Pro, that's about as thin as a MacBook Air, with a 15-inch "retina display" of 2880 x 1800 pixels. It's ridiculously gorgeous and thin. 
Wilson Rothman /
Marketing SVP Phil Schiller shows exactly how thin the new MacBook Pro is by holding up his hand.
But it's not just about the display and thinness. There's a quad-core i7 chip up to 2.7GHz; up to 16GB of RAM; the new GeForce Kepler graphics and 768GB of internal flash storage. YOW! Battery life sounds right: 7 hours on a charge, with 30 days of standby. And as for ports: SD, HDMI, USB 3, a new MagSafe cable and two Thunderbolts ports.
There is no optical drive.
Adobe, Autodesk and others are developing apps to work with the new display. (Aside to the creative people: Hooray for Photoshop being in sync with Mac development!)
OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
After the pulse-racing MacBook unveiling, they took things down a notch to discuss features of OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion, including drill-down on stuff that has already been revealed. For a quick look at those features, have a look here. Some awesome ones include Messages, dictation, sharing and AirPlay mirroring, which lets you send up to 1080p video from Mac to Apple TV. No word (yet) on Facebook sharing though, only Twitter, Flickr, Yahoo, Gmail and some local services.
The new Safari is great: You can click a cloud icon to see tabs open on other devices such as iPads and iPhones, and if you zoom out, each tab becomes a thumbnail, so you can easily get to the tab you want.
iOS 6 for iPhone and iPad
Following Mountain Lion, SVP of iOS software Scott Forstall took the stage to unveil iOS 6, something that had been somewhat confirmed, but without any details. 
First on his agenda was Siri: "In eight months, Siri has been studying up and learning a lot," says Forstall. Now, in iOS 6, you can ask score of last Giants game, even batting average of a given player, team standings. Impressive (if it works in my house). Forstall: "Who is taller, Lebron or Kobe?" Siri: "Lebron James appears to be slightly taller."
In addition to sports, Siri does more with restaurant details, and is partnered with Yelp for reviews and OpenTable for reservations. Yes, you can make dinner reservations with Siri. Good news for a food person like myself.
For movies, Rotten Tomatoes reviews are integrated, and you can tap inside Siri to watch trailers. 
Best of all, Siri can now launch apps. 
New driving mode for Siri: "Eyes free," says Forstall. Button on steering wheel of some car manufacturers including GM, Toyota, Honda, Land Rover, Audi, Mercedes Benz and BMW.
Siri will also speak 15 languages including Korean and both Mandarin and Cantonese.
Facebook integration is next. Integrated within iOS 6 (photos, calendars, contacts, etc.) and even the App Store and iTunes, where you can like stuff, instead of Pinging it like nobody does now. Forstall says Facebook is coming to Mac OS, too, though it wasn't mentioned earlier.
Wilson Rothman /
New turn-by-turn navigation in iOS 6 is voiced by Siri.
Apple is building its own mapping service, complete with fresh maps of the whole globe, plus built-in turn-by-turn navigation, so you don't need a third-party app anymore. There's also crowd-sourced traffic data (anonymously gathered, says Apple) tied into the service, so you have realistic ETAs and smart routing. 
There's also a beautiful new photo mapping feature called "Flyover" which lets you view major landmarks in 3-D. Not sure if they've got your house in there, but it's gorgeous to look upon.
More iOS 6 stuff, in rapid succession:
  • "Reply with message" option to incoming callers gives you canned messages. Also "Remind me later" with time and geo-tagged reminders.
  • "Do Not Disturb" - Phone won't bother you with calls and alerts, including control: (No calls, or just from Favs, etc.)
  • FaceTime enabled over cellular with iOS 6.
  • Apple is unifying phone number and Apple ID - ANSWER calls on iPad or Mac!! More on this later -- it's huge news but apt to depress the mobile carriers.
  • In mobile Safari, there's now photo updating, and there's now more cross-talk between apps and browser.
  • Shared Photo Stream - think Instagrammy comments, etc., and integrated with Mac, iPhone, Apple TV etc.
  • VIP contacts and mailbox for the most important people in your life.
  • Insert photos and video into mail. Weird you couldn't do that before, but glad it's here now.
  • Single App Mode and Guided Access let you lock people into one app, for parental control, education, testing, museum tours, etc.
Forstall introduced a whole new app, too, called Passbook. Codes for boarding passes (United, Amtrak), store cards (Starbucks, Target), tickets (Fandango, SF Giants), reservations (W Hotels), etc. are all collected in one app. When you visit the store or venue, the app automatically pulls up the right card. And when you're done with a given card, there's a cute shredding animation. 
From earlier:
Wilson Rothman /
The throngs assemble at Moscone Center for Apple's annual developer show.
I'm here inside the Moscone Center for Apple's 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference. It's going to get exciting, but for now, it's just a bunch of people milling around. Luminaries in the front, press to the side, and the Apple developer army making up the bulk of the auditorium.
What'll they talk about? Hopefully most or all of what I've linked below, and perhaps a whole lot more. Here's my curtain raiser piece, to get your motor runnin'.
I'll be updating this story to hold the pertinent news, but by all means follow the blow-by-blow on Twitter at @wjrothman.
Wilson Rothman /
Line forming outside of the Moscone Center for Apple's WWDC.

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