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Apple Unveils Retina Mac, New iOS, Upgraded Siri for iPadBy Barry Levine
Posted: June 11, 2012 1:43pm PDT
A new version of Apple's iOS mobile platform. The first MacBook with a Retina Display. MacBook Airs with third-generation Intel Core chips. Those are some of the announcements made Monday by CEO Tim Cook and other Apple executives at the Worldwide Developers Conference taking place this week in San Francisco.
The newest iOS, version 6, was the headliner, with 200 new features. Scott Forstall, senior vice president for iPhone software, told the gathered crowd of developers that the Siri voice agent in iOS has "been studying up and learning a lot more."
Siri, iOS, MacBook Pro
Siri will now have the ability to grab sports data from Yahoo, and integration with Yelp for restaurant information has been refined to include ratings and prices. There's also a new partnership with Rotten Tomatoes that will make movie trailers and reviews available, with searching by movie theater or by actor, among other options.
Siri can also now run applications, when voice-commanded to do so, and users can generate Tweets by voice. Siri is also going automotive, with availability on some models of BMW, Audi, Honda and other lines. And, in a move that developers and users have waited for, Siri will now be available on the iPad.
iOS will also now include an embedded integration with Facebook, which offers an iTunes tie-in so that users can "like" apps, music, and movies. Events in Facebook's calendar will automatically appear in iPhone's calendar, and a user can post to Facebook from a variety of apps, after a single sign-on.
A new Maps app will offer navigation and crowd-sourced traffic information, and a new Passbook will store all boarding passes, loyalty cards and coupons.
The next-generation MacBook Pro now sports an Air-thin profile and a 15.4-inch Retina Display with a breathtaking 2880x1800 resolution. In addition, the Pro's processor is being upped to a quad-core i7 running as fast as 2.7 GHz, as well as the new GeForce Kepler graphics card.
In addition to their new Ivy Bridge processors, the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros will be equipped with updated GeForce graphics cards and USB 3.0.
The newest OS version, Mountain Lion 10.8, was also shown, although many of the new features had already been announced in the winter. It has integrated iCloud support, the Dictation app has been ported from the iPad so users can type by talking, and the venerable iChat will be replaced by a new Messages app.
Al Hilwa, program director for Application Development at IDC, said the continuing improvement of Siri "is huge." One key reason, he noted, is that it sits "in front of a search engine and can grab users," so Apple now has an interface that, in user experience, is arguably more appealing than Google's.
He also noted that Siri's moving to the iPad, while not unexpected, is similarly a "big deal." But overall, Hilwa said that, while the announcements offered a variety of improvements, there's "not a lot of stuff that is groundbreaking for developers."
Current Analysis' Avi Greengart noted that Apple "still cares about the Mac," with Exhibit A being the "crazy resolution" now available in the MacBook Pro's Retina screen.
He also called attention in particular to two new features in the updated Mountain Lion -- Passbook and Maps. Greengart pointed to Maps' turn-by-turn direction, crowd-sourced traffic info, and Siri voice control, and said it was "quite competitive" against Google's map offerings.
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