Apple held its keynote speech just now, kicking off its developer conference. The company announced minor refreshes for its laptop line, introduced a stunning new laptop with a Retina display, and gave a sneak peek of iOS 6, which will launch in the Fall.
Let’s start with the laptop. Apple calls it the next generation MacBook Pro, and the best way to describe it is probably a 15″ MacBook Pro Air. It’s got either a quad-core Core i5 or i7 processor, an Nvidia Kepler GeForce GT 650M GPU, a maximum of 8GB of RAM, a beautifully thin shell, and, of course, that gorgeous 2880×1800 15″ display. Battery life is still solid at 7 hours. It’s also rocking USB 3.0.
Such a machine doesn’t come cheap – the thing starts at $2199 (or a whopping â‚¬2279 in The Netherlands), with a 2.3Ghz quad-core Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256 GB SSD. It’s interesting to note that the refreshed regular MacBook Pros did not get a resolution bump, so they’re still rocking 1280×800 (!) for the 13″ and 1440×900 for the 15″ – and it’s obvious why. If Apple upgraded its regular MacBook Pros to resolutions a little less laughable, the difference between them and the Retina MBP would become too small.
Of note: a pixel density of 220ppi is impressive, but the Asus ZenBook Prime is already rocking a 1920×1080 11.6″ display, which comes down to a ppi of 190. Thanks to Asus and Apple, we’re slowly but surely entering the high-ppi display era, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s about damn time. OS X applications have to be adapted to make proper use of the new display, by the way.
Moving on, iOS 6 adds a lot of cool new little features, but many of them have been staples on other mobile operating systems for a while now, so nothing revolutionary going on here. The biggest – and most anticipated – change is the arrival of a new Maps application, replacing Google Maps.
It finally brings turn-by-turn navigation to iOS by default, and, most interestingly, adds a 3D mode which is exactly the same as what Google demonstrated a few days ago. Google stated its 3D feature would begin roll-out over the “coming weeks”, which netted the company criticism for announcing something without actually having anything to ship. Apple will launch iOS 6, with the new Maps application, coming Fall. Let’s wait and see if the same people – rightly so – criticizing Google will also criticize Apple. I doubt it.
As far as hardware requirements go, it will be available for the iPhone 3GS and up, the iPad 2 and up, and iPod Touch 4th gen. and up. Why the original iPad is left out in the rain and the 3GS isn’t remains an exercise for the viewers. The iPad is only 2 years old, and hardware-wise, more capable than the 3GS. Sure, compared to many Android upgrade cycles it’s still pretty good, but compared to the rest of the PC industry – what the iPad supposedly belongs to, everybody keeps telling me – this is downright criminal.
Lastly, Apple announced that Mountain Lion will be available in July, for a mere $19.99. Another good deal – I may not like OS X, but as far as pricing goes, Apple nailed that one down.
Overall, the new display is nice, but the rest doesn’t really strike me as particularly special or noteworthy. Spending close to 2 hours on this seems excessive, at best, but then again, these press events – not just Apple’s – have been suffering from a serious case of inflation for years now. In any case, I refused to postpone my evening co-op zombie killfest for writing this one.