WWDC: For the Mac

This is a 2-part article series.  This first part covers what has been announced for OS X and the Mac product lines.

MACBOOK AIRS:

The new MacBook Airs have received a few notable upgrades.  First, the Airs are all getting i5 Intel Ivy Bridge Chips, as well as the Turbo Boost feature.  Each now come with 4 gigs of RAM upgradable to 8 gigs.

Apple’s Macbook Airs. No noteable design changes.

However, they can be upgraded to 512 Gigs of Solid State Memory on all but the lowest end 11-inch model.  You can also upgrade all but the lowest end 11 inch model to an i7 Intel Ivy Bridge Chip, starting at 2.0 Ghz.

All the Airs are also getting 2 USB 3.0 ports.  Apple has finally seen fit to upgrade to USB 3.0, and each Air will have a 3.0 port on each side of the Mac.  They still have the same Thunderbolt port, headphone jack, and power port.  Lastly, they will have a 720p front facing Facetime camera. You can begin buying them today and will get Mountain Lion for free.

MACBOOK PRO:

The MacBook Pros also see a minor spec update as well as a removal.  The 17 inch MacBook Pro has been silently discontinued, though you can still buy refurbished models from the Apple Store. The low-end 13-inch MBP will have a non-upgradeable 2.5 Ghz i5 Intel Ivy Bridge processor.  All the other MBP will be getting i7 Ivy Bridge processors. All the chips will have Turbo Boost.

The 13 inch MBP’s will also be getting the graphics upgraded to use Intel HD Graphics 4000 instead of the former 3000. The 15 inch model will be using NVidia GeForce GT 650M graphics cards.  The lower end models have 4 gigs of RAM, but can be upgraded to 8 gigs, while the higher end models have 8 gigs installed already. You can upgrade all but the low-end 13-inch models to a Sold State hard drive and up to 512 gigs.

All the MBP’s will be getting USB 3.0 and 720p Facetime cameras, just like the Airs.  They also still have their CD/DVD drives.  Like the Air, you can begin buying them today and will get Mountain Lion for free.

THE NEXT GENERATION MACBOOK PRO / RETINA DISPLAY MACBOOK PRO:

Apple announced a brand new MacBook Pro, which they call the Next Generation MacBook Pro.  It truly is the direction Apple is taking for the future.

The Next-Gen MBP will only be available in a 15 inch model.  The CD/DVD drive has been removed and the thickness decreased; this means the Next-Gen MBP is 4.5 pounds in weight and 0.7 inches thick.  It’s

The Retina display of the new MacBook Pro

about as thick as the MacBook Air, but still has the squared design rather than the tapered design of the Air.  Like the Air, it uses a Solid-State hard drive.  The low-end model has a non-upgradable 256 gig drive, the upper end model comes 512 gigs of storage, but it can be upgraded to 768 gigs of space, over three-quarters of a terabyte.

Both models also come with the NVidia GeForce 650M graphics cards, and i7 Ivy Bridge chips with Turbo Boost.  Both models also come with 8 gigs of RAM by default, but can be upgraded to 16 gigs of RAM, making this a power horse.  And both sport the 720p Facetime camera, an SD card slot, 2 USB 3.0 ports, 2 Thunderbolt ports and, for the first time, a HDMI port.

Most of the body is taken up by battery, almost half of it because of the biggest news.  The Next-Gen MBP has a 2880 by 1800 Retina Display, which is double the resolution of the standard MBP or Airs.  Between this high-definition display and the new graphics chip, the Next-Gen MBP’s screen look beautiful.  Apple showed off some Diablo 3, as well their updated Pro apps like Final Cut and Aperture.  It is available to order today.

MOUNTAIN LION:

Apple talked a lot about Mountain Lion at WWDC.  Apple showed a little of Notes and Reminders, two iOS apps making their way to OS X.  Reminders and Notes sync with their counterparts on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch so that you always have access to your notes and reminders.  Reminders also integrates with iCal.  Apple showed off Messages, allowing you to iMessage anyone in your contacts list from your Mac.  It also means you don’t always don’t have to pull out your phone to answer an iMessage.

Apple is always bringing in a unified notification system, just like they did with iOS 5.  With a quick swipe to the right, you can see all of your active notifications such as Calendar appointments, new email,Notification Center's sidebar Reminders, App Store Updates, and more.  Apps that integrate with Notifications will also pop up in a small box in the upper right hand corner, similar to how the app Growl works.

Another cool feature is called Power Nap.  Power Nap allows you to put your Mac to sleep and still allow it to fetch information.  Your Mac will still be able to sync through iCloud, fetch your mail, and run Find My Mac, among other iCloud features.  Your Mac will also be able to back up with Time Machine and run software updates.  All of this will happen without your mac having to wake up, turn on the fan, and will use minimal battery.  Hopefully other apps will implement this feature soon after release.  It is also unclear whether updating means updates to OS X and/or Mac App Store apps.

Apple also brought over Voice Dictation, using the same style technology as the iPad.  It works in Japanese, English (U.S.,  U.K., and Australian), German, and French.  They also have worked to make sharing information from everywhere a reality.  Share Sheets, as Apple calls it, allows you to share text, pictures, websites and documents with a variety of services.  Apps like Safari, as well as Finder, allows you to Tweet, email, message, and post to Facebook any of these items.

Facebook link sharing from Mountain Lion’s Share Sheet.

This also shows that you can post to Facebook or just update your status directly from OS X, though this doesn’t mean you can check your wall or timeline from OS X.  You will be able to comment on what your friends post and you will get Facebook notifications in Notification Center.

Mountain Lion also brings Game Center and AirPlay to the Mac.  Game Center allows you to play games with anyone on a Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch that supports Game Center.  You can also track high scores, achievements, and more.  This leads us into AirPlay; Mountain Lion allows you to mirror your Mac’s screen through an Apple TV, meaning you can beam your Mac’s display to a HDTV.  You can browse the web, play games, and stream media all to a bigger screen.  Apple also is allowing you to share a screen in Game Center with your friends through AirPlay.  So if you’re playing a game on your Mac, and your friend wants to play the same game against you on their iPad, you can play split-screen through your Apple TV.

Apple also showed off Safari.  Safari now will have their search bar integrate with the address bar, allowing you to search from the unified bar.  Safari also has updated the way tabs work.  First, you can use a gesture to visually see and sort through all of your tabs.  The style look very similar to the way it works on an iPhone and iPod Touch.  Also, Safari now allows you to sync your open tabs through iCloud to any of your Macs or iDevices.

Apple did not talk much about Gatekeeper in their discussion of Mountain Lion today.  Gatekeeper is their service in Mountain Lion that allows you to limit where you can install apps from on your Mac.  There probably wasn’t anything major enough to update and talk about, as the feature is pretty straight forward.

iCLOUD:

A lot of the news about iCloud on the Mac focused specifically around the apps Apple was bringing from iOS to the Mac, as well as Safari.  Two items were specifically highlighted though.

First is Photo Stream.  Apple is updating Photo Stream so that you can share and combine Photo Streams with other people and share them.  You can select Photos from your Mac or iDevice and create a shared Photo Stream album.  This could be useful for people wanting to share photos from a family event taken with their own iDevices.  However, this functionality is not yet implemented and likely won’t be until the release of Mountain Lion and iOS 6.

The second was Documents in the Cloud improvements.  When Documents in the Cloud was originally debuted, people thought it would work like Dropbox in the sense that you could edit documents on one Apple device and then it would automatically sync to another.  In reality, it only worked for iOS devices, not for Mac.  Apple has come back and improved this functionality.  Apple showed off Pages on Mountain Lion being able to pull and edit documents from your iCloud document library and edit them, then have them immediately upload back to iCloud when you’re done.  They also said this functionality would be in Keynote and Numbers.  This is exactly what iCloud has need, and hopefully it will work just as functioned when Mountain Lion and iOS 6 are released.

APPLE’S PRO APPS:

Apple showed off a little of their updated Pro apps, specifically Aperture (their professional photo-editing software) and Final Cut X (their professional video-editing software).  While new features weren’t really announced, Apple did say they were being updated to support the Retina Display of the Next-Gen MacBook Pro.  This elicited a lot of excitement from several professional editors in the crowd.  Any other major updates weren’t talked about while the Keynote was going on.

CONCLUSION:

Apple had a lot to talk about on stage and they were really excited to announce it.  The biggest news from the Mac side of things has to be the Next-Gen MacBook Pro with the Retina Display, though improved iCloud integration, Facebook in OS X, notifications, and Power Nap also really stick out in my mind.  Tell us what you think below about WWDC.  What did you like, what did you dislike, and what do you wish Apple had talked about/shown off?  Let us know below, or hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.  Thanks!

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Posted on June 11, 2012, in News and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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