An Apple event is always an event and you never really know for sure what’s in store and the opening keynote for WWDC 2012, Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference 2012 was no exception. With Apple’s online store temporarily unavailable we knew something new was afoot.
The crowd was welcomed by Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant with her utter charm, wit and an attempted sense of humour.
“I’m waiting for the new Samsung,” she said. “No, not the phone, the refrigerator. Hubba hubba.”
Mac Book Air
The first announcement out the door was the upgrade to the MacBook Air 11” & 13” models. No high resolution Retina display which had been rumored, but they did get power bump, now with Intel’s new 3rd generation Ivy Bridge processors under the hood. They now max out at a 2.0GHz dual-core i7, (up to 3.2GHz with Turbo Boost) and are touted to be up to 2x faster and 60% faster graphics. MacBook Air models can take up to 8GB ram and incorporate a 720p FaceTime camera. Items of note are the availability of USB 3.0 ports; up to 512GB SSD (Solid-State flash Drive) and a new MagSafe 2 power connector. Prices start at $1029 and $1229 respectively.
The MacBook Pro line also has been refreshed. The 13-inch MacBook Pro retained its same form factor, with upgraded processor chips, also Ivy Bridge up to 2.9GHz dual-core Core i7. (Up to 3.6GHz with Turbo Boost) The graphics card has been updated from an Intel HD graphics 3000HD to graphics a 4000HD card. It also has USB 3.0 ports and storage capacities now max up to 1TB hard drive or 512GB SSD. Prices start at $1229.
The 15” model also had a refresh, again with Ivy Bridge processors up to 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 (also 3.6GHz with Turbo Boost). Graphics have been boosted to Intel HD Graphics 4000 and discrete graphics are provides by the next generation NVIDIA GeForce GT650M based on the new Kepler architecture.
Memory and storage capacities remain the same as the 13” model and a port too, except the 15”, which has a 2nd Thunderbolt port for added flexibility.
MacBook Pro with Retina Display
At first, it seemed that everyone was surprised at the lack of a Retina display on any of the model given the huge expectation, but as it turned out, no one left disappointed. In addition to the refreshed MacBook Pro, Apple also introduced a new model aptly named – MacBook Pro with Retina display.
It’s stunningly beautiful and somewhat reminiscent of a MacBook Air. While not as diminutive as the Air, its slimmer and sleeker than its brother, measuring only 0.71 inches thin, 25% less than the current 15” model. It’s the lightest “Pro” notebook ever made, Apple says, weighing in at 4.46 lbs. over a lb. less than before.
The high contrast and glossy but reduced glare display offers a density of 2880 x 1800, that’s 5.184 million pixels at 220PPI. (Compared to 1440×900). It offers the same processors and graphics as the updated 15” model, but will allow up to 16GB of 1600MHz RAM and 768GB of flash-only storage. It also features 2 Thunderbolt ports, HDMI, USB 3.0, SD card slot as well as the new MagSafe 2 connector. It still manages to carry a 7-hour battery.
Gigabit Ethernet and Firewire 800 are still supported with optional adapters. The Super Drive has been removed and is now only available as a $79 external option. Pricing starts at $2,229.
Free Update to Mountain Lion
All new models ship with Mac OS X Lion but will be eligible for a free update to Mountain Lion when it’s available in July. Mountain Lion introduces innovative features including the all-new Messages app, Notification Center, system-wide Sharing, AirPlay Mirroring, Game Center and the enhanced security of Gatekeeper. With iCloud built into the foundation of OS X, Mountain Lion makes it easier than ever to keep your content up to date across all your devices. We’ll have a look at Mountain Lion and the iOS6 announcement in a later post.
And finally, Apple released a new AirPort Express ($99 CAN). Looking a lot like the Apple TV in the hockey puck shape, but only in white, the updated model offer dual-band support – simultaneously, i.e. for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz at the same time. It still has audio out and a USB port, but they’ve added an extra Ethernet jack for the few times you might need it.
Setup is built right into OS X (and iOS) and can be done in just a few simple steps, and with AirPort Utility 6.0 for OS X Lion (and iOS), you can access a visual map of your network for viewing and reconfiguring devices.
So there were certainly some pleasant surprises in the Apple hardware realm. Best news yet, every model announced today is now shipping.photo credits: Apple Inc.
Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.