Apple tried to take a serious bite out of its competition on Monday, unveiling a large number of slick new products and a host of software upgrades.
The company’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference kicked off in San Francisco with a keynote speech led by CEO Tim Cook and other Apple executives, who showed off a brand new laptop they’re calling “the most beautiful computer we have ever made.”
Just 0.71 inches thick, this “Next Generation MacBook Pro” weighs four pounds and is “thinner than my finger,” Apple’s senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller said, touting its dazzling retina display as the best in the world of laptops. The machine has a 15.5-inch screen and an Intel quad-core i7 processor, and comes with a serious upgrade in memory and storage capacity.
But all that comes with a hefty price – the base model starts at $2199.
The MacBook Air, roughly the same thickness as the new MacBook Pro and available with 11 and 13-inch screens, also got a series of upgrades and a price reduction – the base model retails for $999.
The 11″ and 13″ MacBook Air models now include up to 512GB of flash storage, 60% faster graphics, up to 8GB of memory and a 2.0GHz i7 Ivy Bridge CPU. The machines have been upgraded with combined USB 3.0/2.0 ports as well as 720p FaceTime cameras. All MacBook Air models now include 4GB of RAM standard. Pricing remains similar to before, with only the premium 11″ MacBook Air seeing a $100 price drop.
The 15″ MacBook Pro model include Ivy Bridge quad-core i7 CPU’s up to 2.7GHz, a 1GB GeForce GT 650M discrete graphics card, a standard 8GB of 1600 MHz memory, and USB 3.0/2.0 ports. Pricing remains the same at $1,799 and $2,199.
The 13″ MacBook Pro includes Ivy Bridge dual-core i7 CPU’s up to 2.9GHz. Pricing remains the same at $1,199 and $1,499.
Apple also announced the expected released of iOS6, with more than 200 features including updates to Siri, the company’s much-touted digital assistant.
Siri, who has frustrated Apple users in the past by not living up to her advertised potential, now promises to deliver sports scores, launch apps, sort restaurant listings by rating, and help you make dinner reservations through OpenTable, as well as integrate with your car to provide on-the-rod assistance.
You can read more about updates to Siri at Macrumors.com.
Apple also introduced updates to its Mountain Lion operation system, which has been upgraded to include “ hundreds of new features,” including a better integrated iCloud system allowing users to access their documents and data across multiple devices – including a feature called “Documents in the Cloud” which sounded very similar to Google Docs.
Dictation has also been woven into the fabric of the iOS system, Apple announced, meaning it is now a feature available even in programs like Microsoft Word and also the browser.
The presentation, which lasted nearly two hours, touched on a wide range of new features which drew applause from the crowd, including AirPlay, which allows users to mirror what they are watching on their laptops onto their television screens.
Improvements were also announced for FaceTime, Apple’s video chat. The FaceTime video chat feature will be available over cellular networks as well as WiFi; a “do not disturb” mode will prevent beeping notifications at inopportune times; and a new app called Passbook will collect boarding passes, event tickets, coupons and loyalty cards into a single place.
Each update brought loud applause from developers, who lined up around the block to ensure a seat at the keynote. This year’s WWDC, the first since Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died, sold out in record time – less than two hours.