The WWDC 2012 Keynote has just concluded with a new 15” Macbook Pro with a Retina Display and 2kg weight stealing the hardware spotlight (spec bumps for all other Macbook Air and Macbook Pro models except the 17” which appears to have been retired as it is now absent from the Apple website and store) and the addition of Power Nap as a useful background updating/backing up feature for Mountain Lion (no release date announced but it was announced it would be available as an upgrade from Snow Leopard or Lion starting at $19.95 USD) on newer Macbook Airs and the Retina Macbook Pro rounded out the first half of the presentation. Mountain Lion has been previously shown off at a closed presentation session with only a handful of additional features shown today including the ability to tweet/message from within the notification centre drop-down seemed like a good addition. The addition of USB 3.0 to the Macbook lineup is also a long time coming and was well received. Little additions like the new Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet adaptors will also be very useful for those that want hardwire connected speed over wireless.
Reported moves to 802.11ac were unfounded and there was no mention of iMacs, Mac Minis or Mac Pros during the presentation and a check of the Apple website showed no updates to the iMac or Mac Minis. However as Apple occasionally does silent updates of products they don’t feel need the spotlight the Mac Pro is listed as “New” on the Apple Online Store but appears to have no feature bumps, no USB 3.0 and no Thunderbolt with the same existing video cards.
The major updates to iOS6 were all new including a long-awaited Do Not Disturb feature for the iPhone plus when a call comes in new shortcuts to leave yourself reminder to call them back or to respond with a quick Message (such as “I’m busy”), the extension of Siri to the “New iPad”, sending Siri worldwide now (previously local business searches and several other features were restricted to the US only and in US English only) and with multiple and additional languages. Apple also introduced their answer to Google Maps with their own native app using their own native mapping geo-data that includes a visually impressive 3D mode in both plain and satellite view detail as well as turn by turn navigation built into the app that works from the lock screen.
FaceTime and iMessage now integrate such that if you receive a phone call or message you can answer it on any supporting device (iPhone/Mac/iPad) which is the same concept as was shown for the now defunct TouchPad a bit over a year ago. Photo streams can now be shared between users with those users watching your Photo Stream notified that an additional photo has been added. After the issues with Ping integration with Facebook a few years ago it’s clear that Apples relationship has improved with Facebook to the point where Facebook integration is now deeply embedded into iOS6 much the same way that Twitter has been. This makes it possible to share things from within photos, the App Store and now supports contact integration and along with Twitter it is now possible to post from the Notification Center pulldown.
A new app called Passbook that is designed to keep digital copies of ticket “stubs” such as boarding passes, cinema tickets, as well as store cards and can track balances for such accounts within it. (Sounds good in theory but will need time to test this to see how effective it is). Mail is finally receiving custom notifications (iOS6 also supports custom vibrate notifications) and flagging users as VIP users for a new priority Inbox and photos and videos can now also be inserted in-line in a message (another long overdue feature). Guided Access now allows a user to disable certain screen areas or even hardware buttons to allow a single app mode - very handy for very young children in my case for example where one can now disable the home button.
Apple has added many of the remaining “it’s about time” features to iOS6 and in so doing has matched pretty much every competitors feature further rounding out the iPhone as one of the best smartphones in the world. The first Beta release is available now at the Apple Developer website and is only available for developers to install on their devices. As always it is not recommended for devices that are intended for day to day operational use.