Special: WWDC 2012 Keynote Coverage

Posted on June 11, 2012

Just a reminder, we’ll be over on SchwarzTech.info or on @schwarztechlive with complete coverage of the WWDC keynote starting at 1PM Eastern/10AM Pacific. Afterwards, be sure to come back here for a complete wrap-up!

After our live coverage, we decided to have a “team coverage” write-up in a more refined version of Apple’s newest projects, including the new MacBooks, OS X Mountain Lion, iOS 6, and everything else. If you’d rather watch a video of the keynote yourself, Apple has posted it.

MacBook Updates

While no computer is named simply MacBook anymore, the entire family got a refresh. All models feature USB 3 and Intel’s Ivy Bridge chips and are faster, have more RAM, more storage, and retain familiar form factors:

Available in 11-inch and 13-inch designs, the new MacBook Air features the latest Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors and is perfect for browsing the web, making movies and managing photos. The new integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 is up to 60 percent faster and gives the MacBook Air plenty of power to tackle games and videos. MacBook Air features flash storage up to four times faster than traditional hard drives for instant-on performance and fast access to your apps and data. Now with 4GB of faster memory, configurable up to 8GB, you can run memory-intensive apps with ease. MacBook Air also features a new FaceTime HD camera that delivers high-definition 720p.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro features the latest Intel Core i5 or Core i7 dual-core processors up to 2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz. The 15-inch MacBook Pro features the latest Intel Core i7 quad-core processors up to 2.7 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.7 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M discrete graphics. Both the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro can be configured with a 1TB hard drive or SSDs up to 512GB that are up to twice as fast as the previous generation.

The 17″ MacBook Pro is now a thing of the past, and pricing for the rest remains similar:

The 11-inch MacBook Air comes with a 1.7 GHz processor, 4GB of memory and is available with 64GB of flash storage starting at $999 (US), and 128GB of flash storage starting at $1,099 (US). The 13-inch MacBook Air comes with a 1.8 GHz processor, 4GB of memory and is available with 128GB of flash storage starting at $1199 (US), and 256GB of flash storage starting at $1,499 (US). Configure-to-order options include a 2.0 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, up to 8GB of 1600 MHz DDR3 onboard memory and up to 512GB flash storage.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory and 500GB hard drive starting at $1,199 (US), and with a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory and 750GB hard drive starting at $1,499 (US). The 15-inch MacBook Pro is available with a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, and 500GB hard drive starting at $1,799 (US); and with a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, and 750GB hard drive starting at $2,199 (US). Configure-to-order options include faster quad-core processors up to 2.7 GHz, additional hard drive capacity up to 1TB, up to 8GB of memory and solid state storage up to 512GB.

New MacBook Pro

To make things more confusing than the days of iPad 3 vs. “the new iPad” and then throwing the iPad 2 in the mix, Apple also released another model, that it is simply calling “MacBook Pro with Retina Display” or (in some cases) “The next-generation MacBook Pro” – either way, it features a thinner form factor, flash-based storage, a new MagSafe connector, no optical drive, and a 2880×1800 15.4″ Retina Display, starting at $2,199.

The MacBook Pro with Retina display features the latest Intel Core i7 quad-core processors up to 2.7 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.7 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M discrete graphics, up to 16GB of faster 1600 MHz RAM and flash storage up to 768GB. Two Thunderbolt and two USB 3.0 ports allow pro users to connect to multiple displays and high performance devices, and a new HDMI port offers quick connectivity to HDTVs…

…The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers. The 15-inch MacBook Pro is available with a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage starting at $2,199 (US); and with a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz, 8GB of memory and 512GB of flash storage starting at $2,799 (US). Configure-to-order options include faster quad-core processors up to 2.7 GHz, up to 16GB of memory and flash storage up to 768GB.

Mac Pro

Although not part of the announcement, the Mac Pro got a bit of a speed bump and starts with 6GB of RAM, but no Thunderbolt, as reported by The Verge:

…will be updated with fresher components than the pair of 6-core, 2.93GHz Intel Xeon X5670 processors it’s been kicking around since 2010. Unfortunately, it’s not much of an upgrade: you can simply get a pair of six-core 3.06GHz Intel Xeon X5675 processors rather than the 2.93GHz ones we just mentioned. The base model will start at $2,499 for a single quad-core Intel Xeon W3565 processor at 3.2GHz, with an optional upgrade to a six-core chip, or you can spend $3,799 to get a dual-processor configuration with a pair of the Westmere-EP based 2.4GHz E5645 chips, and upgrade to the aforementioned X5675 for an unspecified amount.

OS X Mountain Lion

Much like last year’s keynote, we got to see a version of OS X that was almost done with features that had been demonstrated in the past. Also like last year, Mountain Lion will be available in July for an even cheaper-than-Lion cost of $19.99.

Some of the notable features include updates to iCloud and Photo Stream (which feel more like incremental updates); iOS carryovers like Notification Center, Game Center, Reminders, Notes, Messages, Dictation, and AirPlay Mirroring; Gatekeeper; a centralized Sharing function; and Power Nap. Essentially, if you’ve used any kind of recent iOS device, most of these updates and changes will feel exactly the same, but on your Mac. The interesting one that we weren’t expecting was Power Nap:

Mountain Lion also introduces Power Nap, an innovative new feature that keeps your MacBook Pro with Retina display and MacBook Air (second and third generation) up to date while it sleeps. Power Nap automatically refreshes Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Notes, Photo Stream, Find My Mac and Documents in the Cloud, and when plugged in, downloads software updates and backs up your Mac using Time Machine.

It sounds a lot like how iOS devices act when they sleep.

iOS 6

The basics of iOS 6 were shared today, as well, although it won’t be ready until the fall. As predicted, it’s a product for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, fourth-generation iPod touch, iPad 2, and third-generation iPad. The arguably powerful-enough original iPad need not apply.

Siri updates were highlighted, including better restaurant reviews, sports scores and stats, more languages, third-generation iPad support, and hands-free car support:

Siri, now available for the new iPad as well as iPhone 4S, includes language support for English, French, German and Japanese, and adds support for Spanish, Italian, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese. Siri is optimized for use in 15 countries and helps you get even more done with just your voice, whether it’s finding the latest sports scores or making restaurant reservations. You also can ask Siri to update your status on Facebook, post to Twitter or launch an app. Additionally, Siri takes hands-free functionality even further with a new Eyes Free mode, enabling you to interact with your iPhone using nothing more than your voice.

Much like last year’s Twitter integration, iOS 6 also brings Facebook integration, including system-wide sharing, the ability to post anywhere, and the addition of posting to Twitter or Facebook right from Notification Center. An overhauled iTunes Store and App Store include the ability to share content and interact with your friends. This sounds like the end of the road for Ping. Socially, Photo Stream also gains a feature where you can share photos with other contacts—it looks and feels a lot like Facebook’s albums or Instagram.

There were a number of incremental updates, including FaceTime calls over a cellular connection, the ability to set a “Do Not Disturb” mode, and the ability to send a message back or remind yourself later if you cannot take a call at a particular time. The Mail app now includes VIPs, which is a feature to highlight contacts you interact with regularly, and the ability to attach items directly from within a message. Finally, Apple will be unifying phone numbers and Apple IDs, meaning that FaceTime or iMessages to your phone number can also reach your iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. Accessibility got some attention, with the inclusion of Guided Access, a feature where one can disable hardware buttons or parts of a screen, locking someone in a particular app.

Passbook is an interesting new feature where people can collect all sorts of things with barcodes or QR codes, such as coupons, boarding passes, baseball tickets, or shopper cards. It’s even location-aware:

The new Passbook app is the simplest way to get all your passes in one place, such as boarding passes and baseball tickets. Passbook lets you scan your iPhone or iPod touch to use a coupon, get into a concert or check into your hotel. Passbook automatically displays your passes on your Lock Screen based on a specific time or location, so when you walk into your favorite coffee shop your loyalty card appears and you can scan it to buy a coffee or check your balance. Passbook can even alert you to last minute gate changes or flight delays at the airport.

The biggest news of the day was the introduction of the new Maps app, which includes traditional maps, along with turn-by-turn directions, crowd-sourced traffic, and a 3D view:

iOS 6 includes an all new Maps app with vector-based map elements that make graphics and text smooth, and panning, tilting and zooming incredibly fluid. New turn-by-turn navigation guides you to your destination with spoken directions, and the amazing Flyover feature has photo-realistic interactive 3D views. Real-time traffic information keeps you updated on how long it will take to get to your destination and offers alternate time-saving routes if traffic conditions change significantly. Additionally, local search includes information for over 100 million businesses with info cards that offer Yelp ratings, reviews, available deals and photos.

Other Non-Keynote Product Changes

Besides the Mac Pro, Apple also updated the AirPort Express wireless router, with a design much like I wanted a few months ago, although keeping the $99 price point. This new model features a design that looks about like a white Apple TV, but features dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi and an additional ethernet jack on the back. It still has a USB port for printer sharing (no AirPrint though), AirPlay capability (with a 3.5mm jack on the back), and can be set up using a Mac, PC, or iOS device.

The iPad also got some attention on the accessories front—Apple released the $50 Smart Case, which is best described as a Smart Cover with a matching, attached back. Both parts are made of polyurethane (like the cheaper Smart Cover) and come in light grey, dark grey, green, blue, pink, and red (it’s a (PRODUCT)RED version). The back features an Apple logo and the option of free laser engraving.

Last, but not least, iTunes was updated to 10.6.3, which is supposed to provide support for the new iOS 6 beta.

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