Apple Intros Lots of New Stuff at WWDC: 'I Love You a Bushel and a Peck'


Even the huge Moscone Center in San Francisco can be a tough ticket when the company on center stage is Apple and there are new things in the offing. Such was the case today when Chief Executive Tim Cook, worldwide marketing head Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president for iOS software, addressed the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). 

It was not easy to secure a seat. In fact, WWDC sold out in record time, just one hour and 43 minutes. One big reason, as mobile analytics service Flurry points out, is that seven of every 10 apps developers build are for Apple's mobile platform. 

Not surprisingly, Siri warmed up the crowd with a series of bad puns and jokes, much to the delight of the audience, such as when she stated, “I love you guys. And it is really hard for me to get emotions. Because as you can tell, my emotions haven't been coded yet."

While a bit early to tell, reaction was that Apple had some interesting things to reveal, but most were either anticipated or incremental changes, but obviously with a big wow factor as only Apple seems to know how to present. For you aficionados, below is a recap.

Some background please!

CEO Tim Cook kicked things off with some context. He noted there are more than 1,000 Apple engineers at WWDC and that there were roughly 580,000 apps a few months ago but today there are more than 650,000 in the App store with 225,000 for the iPad. This was followed by the seemingly obligatory video of an app developer who built an app to help the blind, with Cook saying in Jobs-like manner, "A great reminder of what it is all about." 

Given how much showmanship is always involved with an Apple announcement, I was waiting for it all to be put to the music. The wonderful, “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck” (aka “Adelaide’s Lament”) from the classic musical Guys and Dolls came to mind.  

The good stuff

Next came the rundown of why everyone had waited on line to get into the hall. Schiller had the honor of going over the hardware.

The Notebooks

  • MacBook Air is getting the new Intel processor "Ivy Bridge." This means up to 60 percent faster graphics and up to 512 GB of flash storage.  
  • For the first true reveal, Schiller introduced a new MacBook Pro and proudly showed off its new retina display and super thinness. He promised that apps are being updated to take advantage of the new display, and he had a point. And, the pricing seems almost reasonable:
    • 11-inch MacBook Air: 1.7 GHz processor, 4GB of memory and is available with 64GB of flash storage starting at $999, and 128GB of flash storage starting at $1,099.
    • 13-inch MacBook Air: 1.8 GHz processor, 4GB of memory and is available with 128GB of flash storage starting at $1199, and 256GB of flash storage starting at $1,499.
    • 13-inch MacBook Pro: 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory and 500GB hard drive starting at $1,199, and with a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory and 750GB hard drive starting at $1,499.
    • 15-inch MacBook Pro is available with a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, and 500GB hard drive starting at $1,799
    • 15-inch MacBook Pro: With a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, and 750GB hard drive starting at $2,199.
    • The MacBook Pro also has 786 GB of internal flash storage, battery life up to 7 hours, or 30 days of standby, and a great microphone for talking with Siri.

Mountain Lion, OS and other related enhancements

Forstall was next to present. First came the specs. These included t he fact there are 125 million registered users. There was also a demo showing how your various Apple PCs can now act just like a telephone with notifications, messages, etc. In other words, no matter your Apple, you have all of the capabilities of your iPhone at your beck and call (pardon the pun). 

Other enhancements included:   dictation for the Mac and support of third party apps like Microsoft Word, Safari being given a unified search field, and a new feature called "iCloud tabs" which, like Google Chrome, lists the pages you have across other devices. That latter is a feature on Google I happen to abhor but it is there if you like it. A Mac can now take a nap but keeps you synced while it and you were sleeping. Plus, there are new gaming features for Mountain Lion which you can place on any Apple device.   The best news for Apple users, and there are now 80 percent of iOS devices on IOS 5, is that Mountain Lion is coming next month in the Mac App store. Price: $19.99.

In case we/you are interested, Apple also says iMessage has more than 140 million users, and Apple is sending over a billion messages a day. 

iOS 6! When is it coming?

The answer is that iOS 6 will ship in the fall for iPhone 3GS "and later."  This was interpreted as the introduction date for the insanely anticipated iPhone 4G. There will be more than 200 new features.  These start with a more responsive Siri and integration with the OpenTable app. In fact, without a new iPhone or Apple TV to announce, Siri got some serious attention. 

  • Siri can now launch apps, and Apple is working with BMW, GM and Jaguar already (with others in the wings) on integrating Siri into their new cars.
  • Siri is also getting more languages including English and French that is tuned for the unique versions spoken in Canada.
  • Siri is getting local search, and will be available for the latest iPad. (Can’t you just wait for the commercials on that one?).

 There is also deep Facebook integration with iOS 6 which will means no more re-log in to apps, better sharing and the ability to post from notification center. Also included is a new way to handle incoming calls if you are not able to answer them.   There’s a new control for an incoming call, slide it up to reply with a message or be reminded to call back later.

But wait, there is more!

The good folks from Apple were not quite done. Here are a few more goodies to think about: 

  • The video conferencing Facetime app is no longer just for WiFi but can be used via cellular.
  • You will now be able to control what photos from Photo Stream show up on Apple TV.  
  • "Passbook" is a new app designed to enable users to consolidate things like movie tickets, boarding passes, coupons, etc.  

The best for last

Last but not least, was the announcement of Apple Maps. This new iOS feature puts Google Maps squarely in the cross-hairs and is impressive. Apple says ingested 100 million business listings around the world, and they are building a full-blown traffic service based on anonymous crowd-sourced data.  And, again no surprise, it is integrated with Siri. While I personally was not in the room, those who were said the flyover views on the Maps were amazing and that the 3D view looked like it was a movie.

Cook came back for some closing words about how Apple once again was showing its innovation prowess. However, on a day where the DJIA was down around 1.14 percent near closing Apple was off 1.58 percent, it seems like not only were those in San Francisco looking for more, but so were those on Wall Street. It was a nice piece of business as always well presented, but not the blockbuster people like from hear and see from Apple. 

That said, if you are an Apple user you should like the Siri enhancements and be impressed with Apple Maps and be fascinated by the roadmap. I have a phone contract coming due. Who knows, maybe we will get not just iOS 6, but an 4G iPhone and a big Apple TV push heading into Christmas. See you in September.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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