WWDC: Apple Comes up Front with New Hardware and Software

     On June 11, Apple held its annual worldwide developers conference, or WWDC for short.  There, three major new updates were announced.  These were updates to the MacBook line, OS X Mountain Lion, and iOS 6.  Let me briefly explain the new features and changes in each of these announcements at the event.

     The first major announcement was the new MacBook line.  Apple updated both the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro.  Starting off with the MacBook Air, Apple added some performance upgrades with new Intel Ivy Bridge processors and up to 8 GB of RAM.  The processors can even be turbo boosted.  USB 3.0 is a new port added to the MacBook Air.  You can now get up to 512 GB of flash storage on a MacBook Air!

Perhaps the biggest headline about the new notebooks is that the MacBook Pro is getting a Retina Display.  This is a stunning high resolution display Apple has used on their iOS devices.  The MacBook Pro has the same type of performance upgrades as the MacBook Air, such as a lot of flash storage.  The MacBook Pro even gets an HDMI port, as well as two Thunderbolt I/O ports.  The thickness and weight have also reduced.  The Retina Display MacBook Pro is about a quarter thinner, at 0.71 inches thick.  Weight of the Retina Display MacBook Pro is 4.46 pounds. If you compare that to the regular 13 and 15 inch MacBook Pros, they weigh 4.5 and 5.6 pounds respectively.  The Retina Display MacBook Pro is only available as a 15 inch with a thin design, for a price of $2,199.

     The second major announcement was OS X Mountain Lion.  In this update, over 200 new features were pushed out.  Apple only discussed a few, so I will run down the features they presented at WWDC.  First, they announced new features with iCloud, such as iCloud Tabs and Documents in the Cloud.  Some features borrowed from iOS include Reminders, Notes, Messages, Notification Center, Sharing, Facebook and Twitter Integration, AirPlay Mirroring, and Game Center.  In addition, Safari has some enhancements, and Dictation was announced for Mountain Lion.  There’s even a new feature called Power Nap.  What that does is it updates your Mac software, even while your Mac is in sleep mode.  The price and release month of Mountain Lion was also announced.  The software will be available for $19.99 in July.

The final major announcement was iOS 6, the next version of the mobile operating system for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.  One of the biggest changes is the entirely new Maps software.  iOS 6 no longer uses Google Maps, as they have their own mapping service instead.  There’s now turn-by-turn voice directions for navigation, which is a very nice addition.  Traffic and incidents are now shown, as well.  Flyover is a really cool, new feature, which allows you to explore the world with a photo-realistic experience of buildings, etc.Siri also adds some enhancements, including sports scores, restaurant reservations, and movie reviews and purchasing.  Siri also can launch apps, post to Facebook or Twitter, and it even adds a huge selection of new languages.

Facebook is integrated into iOS 6, so you can share photos, apps, websites, and more, right from the app you are in.  You can even like songs and apps.  Shared Photo Streams is a new feature that allows you to beam photos wirelessly over to your friends, and they can even comment on your photos.  Passbook is an app that lets you store all your cards, coupons, boarding passes, etc., and it is all unified into one app.FaceTime now works over cellular networks, in addition to only Wi-Fi.  iPhone has new features, such as sending an iMessage or SMS to a person who tries to call you if you can’t talk now.  You can also remind yourself to call back later, and Do Not Disturb is a feature which allows you to block incoming calls or other notifications.  You can also schedule it to come on for a certain time of day or week.
     New features in the Mail app include assigning VIPs, quickly inserting photo or video, and pulling to refresh for your inbox.  Safari adds iCloud Tabs, which lets you access tabs running on your other devices.  Offline Reading List is a new feature that allows you to save webpages and view them, even without internet access.  Safari can also go into full screen mode in landscape orientation.  Finally, Guided Access allows you to restrict access to certain parts of the screen and disable hardware buttons, too.
     In the end, I think WWDC was an eventful conference with great new updates announced there.  I certainly can’t wait to get my hands on Mountain Lion and iOS 6.  The new Maps software and new Siri functionality are definitely my favorite features of iOS 6.  I’d love to see the Retina Display on the MacBook Pro, and plan to check it out at the Apple Store.  AirPlay Mirroring is my favorite Mountain Lion feature I’m looking forward to testing out.  I think Apple has taken a big step further with these hardware and software announcements.
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