New iPhone and Mac software and updated Mac computers were among the highlights Monday at Apple Inc.’s annual conference for software developers.
Next Generation MacBook Pro
Apple announced a next-generation MacBook Pro model that is less than an inch thick while closed – about as thin as the MacBook Air. It will have a sharper display, akin to what the iPhone and the iPad now have. The “next-generation” model will have a 15.4-inch diagonal display. It will have processors from Intel Corp. and Nvidia Corp. and promises up to 7 hours of battery life. It will be 0.71 inch thick, compared with 0.95 inches for the updated models. The weight of the new model is 4.46 pounds. The new model will start at $2,199 and will start shipping Monday.
Upgraded MacBook Air, MacBook Pro
Apple updated the ultra-thin MacBook Air and said the devices will have new Intel Corp. processors that sport up to 60 per cent faster graphics and up to 512 gigabytes of flash storage memory. MacBook Airs do not have hard drives. Prices for the version with an 11-inch diagonal screen will range from $999 to $1,099.
The MacBook Pro, which do have hard drives and are thicker, will also get the new Intel chip. Prices for the 13-inch model will be $1,199 to $1,499, while a 15-inch model will be $1,799 or $2,199, depending on the amount of storage. The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models will start shipping Monday.
OS X Mountain Lion
The new Mountain Lion system narrows the gap between the PC and phone software packages, making Mac personal computers work more like iPhones.
- A new Messages app, copied from Apple’s mobile operating system, will replace iChat.
- Mountain Lion will be integrated with iCloud, the new Internet storage service designed for the mobile devices.
- The software will bring dictation to Mac computers, essentially allowing you to type as you talk.
The new operating system for Apple’s Mac computers promises better integration with social networks.
Apple says the upcoming Mac OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion” operating system has built-in features to facilitate sharing on Twitter and Flickr. For instance, you’ll get notifications directly from Twitter when you get a direct message or a mention on Twitter. There’s also a “Power Nap” feature that keeps your Mac up to date even while it’s in power-saving “sleep” mode. It will get your emails, back up your files and download software updates automatically.
Mountain Lion will be available next month and will cost $19.99 – $10 cheaper than what the current system, Lion, costs. Those buying the MacBook models announced Monday will get the upgrade for free when it’s available. Those models will ship with the Lion version initially.
Apple says its mobile devices will get a new operating system, iOS 6, this fall. It will support iPhones released since 2009, as well as last year’s and this year’s iPad models. It will also work with newer iPod Touch devices.
The update will be free, though some features won’t be available on all devices. The iOS 6 software will sport more than 200 new features.
iOS 6 and Siri
Apple says iOS 6 will have enhancements to Siri, a virtual assistant that interprets voice commands and talks back to the user.
Apple says it is partnering with Yelp so that Siri can include ratings and prices of restaurants when you ask Siri for places to eat. The company is also partnering with OpenTable to make reservations.
Siri has also learned more about movies. Siri will now be available in more languages and more countries. It is also coming to the iPad for the first time.
Facebook integration in iOS 6
Apple’s iOS 6 software will have better integration with Facebook. The idea is you enter your password just once, and you can post to Facebook from a variety of apps. You can also post about websites directly from Apple’s Safari browser.
Facebook will be integrated with Apple’s online app store so that you can declare you “like” specific apps there, as well as songs and movies in iTunes.
Events in Facebook’s calendar and birthdays of Facebook friends will also appear on your phone’s calendar.
Do not disturb
Apple’s new software for iPhones gives you more options for preventing messages and text notifications from disturbing you at night, for instance.
You can control how and when you get back to people. If you can’t call someone back right away, you can set a reminder to call that person back later or have a text message sent directly to the caller.
There’s a “call when you leave” feature that reminds you to call back when you are leaving a building and office. The phone can detect when you are leaving.
The new software, iOS 6, will sport more than 200 new features. It also works on the iPad and the iPod Touch.
Apple’s own maps
Apple’s mobile devices will have a mapping program built in-house.
In the past, Apple has given prominent billing to Google Inc.’s mapping app. But the two companies have increasingly become rivals as people buy more devices running Google’s Android operating system.
Apple’s map program will be integrated with Siri so that you can ask questions.