At Monday's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, a revolving cast of Apple executives took to the stage to fill the running shoes of the company's late founder in the first WWDC keynote of the post-Steve Jobs era. What kind of new gadgetry and software did Tim Cook and Co. have lined up for fans everywhere? Here, 10 talking points from the nearly two-hour-long presentation:
1. New MacBook Pros
In terms of hardware, the new "next-generation" MacBook Pro stole the show, says Dieter Bohn at The Verge. The new laptop represents Apple's vision of the future, with a 15.4-inch high-definition "Retina display" previously only found on the iPhones 4S and the new iPad. The notebook is just 0.71 inches thick and weighs in at a feathery 4.5 pounds, "making it the lightest Pro laptop Apple has ever produced." Inside, the next-gen Pro includes up to a 2.7-GHz processor, a quad-core Intel Core i7 chip, 16GB of memory, and up to 768GB of flash storage. The laptop is available today, starting at $2,199. Old-school (and cheaper) MacBook Pros will still be available, starting at $1,199, but also got a minor redesign. Apple also shaved $100 from the price of most of its MacBook Air models save for the entry-level 11-inch version, which is still $999.
2. New OS X
Mountain Lion, the update to the Mac's operating system, will debut in July for just $19.99. Among the new features are Siri-like dictation capabilities, a new version of Safari, and a brand new feature called "Power Nap," which allows the computer to connect to an open network when the lid is closed, backing up your hard drive and refreshing data while the computer sleeps, says Adrian Covert at Gizmodo.
3. A better Siri with iOS 6
For iPhone and iPad users, over 200 new features are set to debut with the newest version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 6. The oft-controversial Siri will soon offer sports updates such as scores and statistics (when asked: "Who's taller, LeBron or Kobe?", Siri correctly answered "LeBron"). Siri will also hook up with third-party apps like Yelp, OpenTable, Rotten Tomatoes, and Twitter — letting users issue vocal commands to find new restaurants, make reservations, play movie trailers, or tell the world what they're thinking. (For example: The command "Show movies with Scarlett Johansson" will lead phone-wielders to a trailer for The Avengers.) Also new to iOS 6: Facetime and iMessage will also be available over cellular networks — not just WiFi.
4. "Eyes Free" driving
Siri is also coming to the car, and Apple is partnering with manufacturers like BMW, GM, Honda, Toyota, and more for a new service called "Eyes Free," which places a helper button right on the steering wheel. "Siri will pop up on your phone (via Bluetooth) and assist you on the road, like your very own AAA agent," says Rip Empson at TechCrunch.
5. Facebook integration
When Twitter was integrated into iOS 5, the company saw a three-fold increase in the number of signups. Now Facebook is at long last getting the native treatment in iOS 6; users will be able to post photos and video directly into their accounts, says Roger Cheng at CNET. Bonus: You can post updates to the big blue social network via Siri.
6. Photo Stream
Another new feature in iOS 6 allows users to directly share images they snap with friends, family, or "whoever you choose in just a few taps," says iMore. Albums can be toggled on or off to be shared directly to the cloud, where other family members can leave comments or "like" photos directly within the Photo Stream, giving Apple its own little social network.
A new app called Passbook stores boarding passes, membership cards, and movie tickets in one convenient place. The new application works with Fandango, Amtrak, Target, Starbucks, United Airlines, and more to store your information with ready-to-scan electronic tickets. The digitals cards themselves are live, so if your gate changes while you're flying, the information will come up on your lock screen and you can proceed to the next destination without any problems. The technology is "the beginning of mobile payments on iOS," says Brent Rose at Gizmodo, with near-field communication (NFC) likely on the way. Could credit cards be next?
8. Guided Access
Another new feature for iOS 6 allows children and teachers to lock children into an individual application by disabling the device's physical home button. Apple made it a point to mention that the technology would be useful for children with autism, says T.C. Sottek at The Verge. The company claims that it was "surprised at how many kids with autism have been using the phones...." The new Guided Access will let users "confine input to certain parts of the screen" to fine-tune their child's interaction with an app and could potentially turn the iPhone and iPad into helpful classroom tools for easily distracted kids.
9. Lost mode
If you lose your iPhone or iPad, you can send a number (such as your home phone number or your spouse's number) directly to the phone for someone to call. If a good Samaritan finds it, they can tap the phone to call you right back from the lock screen.
10. Apple Maps
Apple kissed Google Maps goodbye as expected with its new proprietary mapping software. The new maps are fully integrated with Yelp, and spotlighted by a "cool" new turn-by-turn navigation feature that "Apple fans have been begging for years," says Kyle Wagner at Gizmodo. Traffic and incident reports will also be displayed, and users will be able to anonymously report incidents in real-time. An option called "Quick Route" gives users the quickest single path to a destination, and also displays an estimated time of arrival. A "stunning" new feature called "Flyover" gives users advanced 3D renderings of cities around the world. With Yelp and Siri integration, Apple's new mapping software makes Google Maps look like "child's play," says Alexia Tsotsis at TechCrunch. No wonder the search giant's stock is down.
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