Apple WWDC 2012 news in brief

WWDC 2012 just got under way, beginning with a big Apple keynote presentation. If you missed our liveblog (in conjunction with Macworld), you can check the archive to relive all the announcements in real time. But liveblogs aren't for everyone. Maybe you're short on time, maybe you're just not so invested in all things Apple that you need to read every nuanced detail of the crowd's reactions. Just for you, we've compiled this quick list of the major announcements made during Apple's time on stage.

New MacBooks

Are you ready for new MacBooks? We told you whether you should buy a new laptop or wait. Now, if you want an Apple product, the wait is almost over.

  • The MacBook Air is updated to a 3rd Gen Core processor (aka Ivy Bridge).
  • The Air is getting a faster SSD drive, up to 512GB. Also USB 3.0
  • Both the 11-inch and 13-inch Airs will start at prices $100 cheaper than before, and start shipping today.
  • The new MacBook Pro gets dual-core (on the 13-inch) and quad-core (on the 15-inch) Ivy bridge processors. They now have USB 3.0 ports and well, and the 15-inch model has a GeForce GT 650M graphics card.
  • The MacBook Pros are keeping their same prices, and are shipping today.

Next-generation MacBook Pro

In addition to the updates to existing MacBooks, Apple unveiled a new generation of MacBook Pro.

  • The new MacBook Pros are .71 inches thick—25% thinner than the old models. Were it a Windows PC, it would be thin enough to meet the Ultrabook spec.
  • It's 15.4 inches across, 4.46 pounds (the lightest Pro Apple has made), and has a display with a resolution of 2880 x 1800. Apple says the new display has deeper blacks, wider viewing angles, and 75% less glare.
  • OS X and all of Apple's apps are updated to take advantage of the new high-res display.
  • The Next-Gen MacBook Pros are available with quad-core Ivy Bridge chips up to 2.7GHz, up to 16GB of RAM, up to 768GB of SSD storage, and GeForce GT 650M graphics. As with the updated last-generation, Apple is updating to USB 3.0. There are two Thunderbolt ports.
  • Apple claims it has the best stereo speakers it has ever put into a notebook, and the fans are quieter.
  • The starting price is a steep $2,199, and it starts shipping today.

OS X Mountain Lion

The next version of OS X is due to ship this summer. Apple has detailed some new features before, but still had some surprises in store.

  • Upgrades to Mountain Lion, from anyone with Snow Leopard or Lion, will cost $19.99. Upgrades are free for those that buy a Mac today.
  • Three new apps: Messages, Reminders, and Notes.
  • iCloud integration, including storing documents in the cloud. App developers can take advantage of this with an SDK. All of Apple's major apps (Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Preview, TextEdit) will support cloud documents.
  • New support for dictation - built into the OS and available everywhere.
  • Sharing services are built into the OS. Enter your Twitter, Facebook, etc. details once and share from any app, using the Share button up on the toolbar.
  • Power Nap: a feautre that lets your Mac refresh data while in sleep mode. It sounds identical to Intel's Smart Connect, with a different brand.
  • AirPlay mirroring is added as a core OS feature, up to 1080p.
  • Game Center comes to OS X, with support for achievements, turn-based, and head-to-head play.

Safari

Are you a fan of Apple's browser, or do you use Chrome or Firefox instead? Apple hopes to change your mind with a new verison of Safari.

  • There's a new unified search field, similar to other modern browsers. It searches sites, history, and bookmarks from a combined search and address bar.
  • Apple claims the new Safari has the fastest JavaScript engine of any browser.
  • There's a new faster page loading and scrolling.
  • Tab syncronization between devices. Open a tab on your computer, sync it with your iPhone or iPad to pick up where you left off.

iOS 6

Apple provided the first details and demos of the next major revision of its mobile operation system. Apple is promising over 200 new features, but highlighted only a few of them.

  • Siri has been improved. It has much improved support for sports, movies, and restaurants, and can directly launch apps. There's a new Eyes Free mode, allowing you to use Siri without looking at the phone. Apple is working with car manufacturers to use a button on the steering wheel to trigger Siri, including BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda. Many new languages have been added.
  • Facebook is now integrated into iOS, much like Twitter. Facebook is integrated with Calendar, Contacts, and the App Store. There's an API so developers can build in support for Facebook's OS integration.
  • The phone app can now let you text back someone who calls you, or set a reminder to call them back later.
  • Do Not Distrub mode allows you to set times at which your phone will not make a sound, vibrate, or light up. Messages still come in; your phone just won't notify you. You can set up some exceptions, so calls from specific people will get through.
  • FaceTime will work over cellular in iOS 6. Your phone number and Apple ID will be unified, so if someone uses your phone number to call you on FaceTime, you can still answer on your iPad or Mac.
  • Safari in iOS has support for iCloud tabs, an offline reading list, and fullscreen support in landscape orientation.
  • You can share Photo Streams with friends, who can then comment on the photos.
  • Mail has been updated. Mark someone as a VIP and their mails go to a special VIP folder. Apple has added a Flagged folder and "pull to refresh" in Mail, too.
  • Passbook is a new app. It stores cards, movie tickets, sports and event tickets, boarding passes, coupons, etc. Cards are live and location-sensitive. It will pull up your Starbucks card when you go to a Starbucks, and update gate info on your boarding pass.
  • Maps is entirely new, using a new app and new data that Apple is building itself. Google maps is gone. It has local businesses, Yelp integration, real-time traffic, turn-by-turn navigation. Navigation works from the lock screen and is integrated with Siri, too. Maps are vector based and include 3D data, including full detailed 3D renderings of some cities.
  • There's a "lost mode" added to Find My iPhone that lets you send a number to the phone for the person who finds it to call, if they're kind enough to return it to you.
  • The beta of iOS 6 is released today. Final version coming this fall, with support for iPhone 3GS or newer, 4th generation iPod Touch, and iPad 2 or newer.

That's a big list of new features and products from Apple. It may come as a surprise to some, but nothing was mentioned about Apple TV or a new TV product. Rather, Apple introduces a whole new set of MacBooks, new features and an agressive low price for OS X Mountain Lion, and lots of neat new features for iOS 6. For more detail about all these products, look for ongoing coverage at Macworld and PCWorld.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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