Ben Woodhead Deputy editor - digital

Ben Woodhead is deputy editor - digital at the Financial Review Group. He writes on business, technology, politics and the economy and can be found on BRW, The Australian Financial Review and Smart Investor.

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New MacBooks, software and Siri, oh my

Published 12 June 2012 05:42, Updated 13 June 2012 05:05

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New MacBooks, software and Siri, oh my

Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, unveils the new MacBook Pro at the Apple Developers Conference in San Francisco. Photo: AP

Apple has taken the covers off a new, Retina display-equipped MacBook and a host of software updates.

The new MacBook Pro was launched at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco alongside a new Mac operating system and a new mobile operating system feature deep Facebook integration, updated Siri and Apple’s keenly-anticipated answer to Google Maps.

Unveiling the new MacBook Pro, which will retail from $US2199, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller declared the laptop “the most beautiful computer we’ve every made”.

“There has never been a notebook this thin, this light and this powerful. It’s an engineering breakthrough,” he added.

Among the touted features:

  • 220 pixel-per-inch, 15-inch Retina display
  • All flash storage up to 768GB
  • Intel Core i7 Quad-core processors running up to 2.7GHz
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 650M discrete graphics
  • Weight: 2kg
  • Thickness: 1.8cm
  • OS X Lion operating system with free upgrade to Mountain Lion
  • FaceTime HD camera, Multi-Touch trackpad

“The MacBook Pro with Retina display pushes the limits of performance and portability like no other notebook,” Apple’s chief Tim Cook said in a press release. “With a gorgeous Retina display, all flash architecture and a radically thin and light design, the new MacBook Pro is the most advanced Mac we have ever built.”

Apple also announced updated 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air laptops with Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processes, as well as new Intel HD Graphics 4000 hardware.

In July, owners of Apple laptops will be able to upgrade to the company’s new computer operating system Mountain Lion, which is equipped with a raft of new features including widely-expected Facebook integration.

Mountain Lion will be available for download from Apple’s Mac App Store next month for $US19.99 and also includes:

  • “AirPlay Mirroring, an easy way to wirelessly send an up-to-1080p secure stream of what’s on your Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV, or send audio to a receiver or speakers that use AirPlay;
  • “Game Center, which brings the popular social gaming network from iOS to the Mac so you can enjoy live, multiplayer games with friends whether they’re on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch;
  • “a faster Safari® with a unified Smart Search Field, iCloud Tabs that present your open tabs across your devices, and a new Tab View to quickly swipe through them;
  • “new features for China, including significantly improved text input, a new Chinese Dictionary, easy setup with popular email providers, Baidu search in Safari, built-in sharing to Sina Weibo and popular video websites Youku and Tudou; and
  • “over 1,700 new APIs that give developers access to the latest core OS and web technologies, as well as the newest features of OS X, including Documents in the Cloud, Notifications, Sharing and Game Center.”

“The pace of innovation on the Mac is amazing, OS X Mountain Lion comes just a year after the incredibly successful launch of Lion,” Schiller said in a press release. “With iCloud built right in and the new Notification Center, Messages, Dictation, Facebook integration and more, this is the best OS X yet.”

iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners also get an operating system upgrade in the shape of iOS6, which will be made available in the northern autumn. The new OS marks an escalation in Apple’s burgeoning war with Android mobile operating system maker Google and includes:

  • Apple Maps with turn-by-turn navigation
  • Facebook integration for Contacts and Calendar
  • Siri with broader language support and improved restaurant and movie listings
  • Share Photo Streams via iCould
  • Passbook
  • Enhancements to Safari, including iCloud tabs, offline reading lists and full screen view

“iOS 6 continues the rapid pace of innovation that is helping Apple reinvent the phone and create the iPad category, delivering the best mobile experience available on any device,” Apple’s senior vice president of iOS software Scott Forstall said in a press release.

“We can’t wait for hundreds of millions of iOS users to experience the incredible new features in iOS 6 including the new Maps app, expanded Siri support, deep Facebook integration, Shared Photo Streams and the innovative new Passbook app.”

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