WWDC 2012 Highlights – New MacBooks, Mountain Lion, iOS 6 – UK Prices

Unlike last year, where I missed almost the entire thing due to deadline pressures, this time around I was fully poised with live weblogs engaged as the 6.00pm keynote hour for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference approached. Here’s a rundown of what was announced at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco earlier this evening.

Updated MacBook Pro and MacBook Air

The MacBook Air gets the new Intel Ivy Bridge processor, up to 2GHz dual-core i7, with up to 8GHz of 1600MHz RAM and 60% faster graphics. 512GB of flash storage, USB 3, and a 720p FaceTime camera. Display wise, the 11″ model sports a 1366 x 768 display, with a 1440 x 900 resolution on the 13″ . The 2012 MacBook Air ships today, with prices ranging from £849 – £1249.

The MacBook Pro also gets Ivy Bridge processors, up to 2.9GHz quad-core i7, (turbo boostable to 3.6GHz), 8GB of 1600MHz RAM and 60% faster graphics. The 13″ model gets the same integrated graphics chip as the new MacBook Air, while the 15″ gets the Kepler GeForce GT 650M graphics card with up to 1GB of video RAM. Both models get USB 3 ports. The 13″ version starts at £999 for the 2.5GHz variant, rising to £1249 for the 2.9GHz i7. The 15″ model starts at £1499 for the 2.3GHz, going up to £1799 for the faster 2.6GHz, i7 model. Boasting a touted 7-hour battery life, the 2012 MacBook Pro also ships today. Notably, the new MacBook Pro models still have optical drives.

Next Generation MacBook Pro
Also unveiled today was a new, ultra-thin, top-of-the-range MacBook Pro model with a completely new design. Very thin, 0.71 inches, weighing in at just 4.46 pounds, and boasting a retina display, the new version’s 15.4″ display has a 2880 x 1800 resolution, four times that of the previous generation MacBook Pro display, with apparent reduced glare and better viewing angle.
Aperture & Final Cut Pro have been udpated to take advantage of this new HD display. Third-party apps will have to be updated too, and updates are in the pipeline from the likes of Adobe and Autodesk.
Specs-wise, the new MacBook Pro has up to 2.7GHz quad-core i7 CPU, up to 16GB RAM, Kepler GT 650M GPU, up to 768GB flash internal storage and a 7-hour battery life, with 30 days standby time. There’s an SD card slot, HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports and two Thunderbolt ports. Also featured is a glass trackpad, backlit keyboard, 802.11n Wifi, Bluetooth 4, FaceTime HD, dual microphones and stereo speakers.

Prices start at £1799  for a 15.4″ 2.3GHz, quad-core  i7 CPU, with 8GB RAM and 256GB flash storage. The 2.6Ghz, i7 model with 512GB flash storage weighs in at £2299. Both models are available from today.

Updated Mac Pro

iMac users will be disappointed by the lack of any new iMac hardware, but the Mac Pro also received a sneaky update today. Available in three configurations, 3.2GHz quad-core, 2.4GHz 12-core and 3.2GHz Server varieties, the 2012 Mac Pro starts at £2049 for the base quad-core model, rising to £3099 for the 12-core.

The Mac Mini line also remains unchanged for now.

8 Mountain Lion highlights.

Apple’s latest upcoming version of OS X also came under the spotlight today, with 8 prominent new features receiving a mention.

1. iCloud
Three new apps optimized for iCloud: Messages, Reminders, & Notes. Also mentioned was Documents in the Cloud

2.
Notification Center
As found on the iPhone.

3.
Dictation
Support for talking into OS X and third-party apps. Np proper Siri yet though.

4.
Sharing sheets
Tweet directly from Safari and use other sharing options built into the OS.

5.
New Safari with iCloud tab syncing
This enables you to click on any device and pick up your browsing where you left off.

6.
Power Nap
A handy new feature that keeps your Mac up to date while it sleeps, without spinning up your fans. The Mac will update itself and sync itself when its offline, and backup while charging itself.

7.
AirPlay Mirroring.
Get 1080p streamed to your HDTV, also sends audio to AirPlay enabled stereo systems & speakers.

8.
Game Center.
Cross-device, online multiplayer gaming, iOS style.

Mountain Lion will be available from July as a Mac App Store download for £13.99 – cheaper than Lion, and upgrades go all the way back to Snow Leopard. One purchase upgrades multiple Macs. Buy any new Mac from today and the upgrade will be free.

iOS 6

OS 6 brings more than 200 new features. Just some of them were highlighted today, including:

Enhancements to Siri – sports results and stats (US only methinks?) More information on restaurant search results, Yelp integration. Movie search results are now also enhanced with Rotten Tomatoes integration. Siri can now launch apps.

Eyes Free
In-car integration from BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler & Honda are all pledging to add steering wheel buttons within the next 12 months, so you don’t even have to look at your phone to use Siri.

Siri will also now be available on the new, 3rd generation iPad with iOS 6.

Facebook integration – post pics from Photos, sites from Safari, locations from Maps.

New swipe control to deflect incoming calls in Phone app. Custom response message that can be sent with one tap.

Smart reminders

Do Not Disturb – stops notifications from pinging.

FaceTime now available over the cellular network! Finally!

Safari – iCloud tab syncing, so that you can view your desktop tabs on your phone or iPad, offline reading list, a la Instapaper.

Photo Stream – now you can share Photo Streams. Choose the photos you’d like to share, and who you’d like to share them with.

VIP’s – favourite people whose messages apear highlighted on your lock screen, and a VIP mailbox containing their messages.

Pull to refresh Mail messages.

Passbook – keep track of your store cards, tickets and boarding passes all in one app.

Guided Access – on-screen controls can be disabled by parents to prevent kids from accidentally quitting apps.

Maps – iOS 6 contains an entire new mapping solution, built from the ground up. Local search with Yelp integration, anonymous, crowd-sourced traffic information, turn-by-turn navigation with 3D city view presentation.

With a Beta release available for developers from today, iOS 6 will be released this autumn, and supports the iPhone 3GS and later, iPad 2 and later and the 4th gen iPod Touch.

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