The Best Of Apple's WWDC Keynote 2012: MacBook Pro Retina Display, Mountain Lion, iOS 6 And More

Apple announced a slew of new products today, everything from hardware--a new MacBook Pro that is as thin as an Air and has a retina display--to iOS 6 which includes a totally new maps app. Here's what you need to know.

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Even the most die-hard Mac fanatics are still processing the overwhelming number of tidbits that were revealed in today's Apple WWDC keynote. As expected, there were some incredible design breakthroughs. Below, our picks of the most important announcements from the three major focus areas: MacBook, Mountain Lion, and iOS 6.

MacBook Pro And MacBook Air Update

The Best: A Brand New MacBook Pro with a Retina display that is 15.4 inches across with pixel density of 2880 x 1800. That's 5.1 million pixels. It's as thin as a MacBook Air and under 4.5 pounds. Apple is boasting seven hours of battery life and an amazing graphics engine, too--plus an HDMI slot, so you can connect it directly to your HDTV. The price? $2,199. It's going to be available starting today. [More details: Gizmodo.]

The Rest: 11-Inch MacBook Air. The Air includes USB 3.0, 512GB storage, and the 11-inch model starts at $999. There's also a 13-inch model that goes for $1,199 on the low end. Starts shipping today. [More details: The Verge.]

The Commentary: There was a palpable lack of snark in response to the hardware announcements today.

OS X 10.6.8 Mountain Lion

The latest operating system costs just $19.99 and will be available starting next month. It includes more than 200 new features [More details from Ars Technica]; we've picked our favorites here.

The Best: Message App replaces iMessage and iChat, and lets you not only send messages to anyone with an iPhone, iPad or Mac but syncs the conversation so you can pick up where you left off from one device to another. You'll also be able to get iMessage updates right on your desktop, even if they were sent to your phone (so if your phone buzzes you can respond from your Mac).

The Rest: Twitter And Facebook Notifications. Many of the features announced today were already previewed and can be seen on Apple's OS X Mountain Lion Sneak Peek page. The built-in dictation function that works with Microsoft Word will be a favorite at the Fast Company offices. If you're familiar with the Growl notification system for Mac, Apple's just replaced it with its own Notification Center. It includes some really nice Twitter and Facebook integration that will appear on your screen to notify you of messages. One more cool feature is Power Nap, which updates your computer while it is asleep. How do they do that?

The Safari web browser will now automatically synchronize with all your devices so you can pick up browsing where you left off on another device. The other updates to Safari show Apple competing directly with Google's Chrome browser--now the leader in browser market share--in a big way. They've added tabbed window browsing, for example, which is already available in the mobile version of Safari.

The Commentary: Twitter got a lot more screen time during this keynote than Facebook, which was a passing mention with little detail.

iOS 6

Apple says there are another 200 new features in its updated mobile operating system (dizzy yet?). And you won't need an iPhone 5 to take advantage of these new features: it's available for free this fall for iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, the new iPad, iPad 2 and iPod touch (fourth generation). [More details: GigaOm.]

The Best: All New Maps. As expected, Google Maps is gone from the iPhone and will be replaced with Apple's own mapping system. Turn-by-turn directions, voiced by Siri, are integrated into the system (a nice addition to the Eyes Free steering wheel option that was also announced). Business listings, traffic map with incidents, anonymous real-time, crowd-sourced data being used for traffic--this is a potentially amazing feature. Apple also added "Flyover," airplane-view, 3-D images of major cities. It appears you can fly around in 3-D mode and zoom into particular buildings for a close-up view.

The Rest: Decline A Call And Remind Me Later. You can decline a call but now tell the phone to remind you later to respond. There's also a Do Not Disturb feature that tells your phone not to bother you, except that you can white list certain callers to get through. It's also intelligent so that if you get two calls in a row it will read it as an important call and break through.

Siri is getting smarter: you'll now be able to get sports scores, look up movies trailers, get Yelp reviews and make reservation with OpenTable. Siri will also open apps for you on command. She'll also be available for iPad now.

Face Time is now going to work via cellular data connections--better upgrade to an unlimited plan before you use that one!

Photo Stream is a new way to share images with your friends with your iPhone. And your friends can comment about the pictures--it sounds a bit like Instagram without the funky filters.

VIP Mail: star the people you really want to hear from, and Mail will create a folder to make sure you hear from them.

Passbook is a digital wallet of sorts. The app will store and organize your boarding passes, frequent customer cards, gift cards, and movie tickets. United, Target, Fandango, Amtrak, Starbucks, W Hotels appear to be early partners. And there is even a cute little shred animation when you delete a card.

Eyes Free is a new automobile option that brings up Siri from a button built into the steering wheel. Toyota, BMW, Honda, Audi and Jaguar have signed on to offer the feature.

Local search allows you to search wherever you are, even in China. 15 languages in all.

Facebook integration is finally coming to the iPhone. That said, the keynote didn't offer much detail about how it will work. The press material after the event offered a bit more information: contacts, birthdays, and events will be automatically updated from Facebook and kept in sync across your iOS devices.

The Commentary: It's becoming de rigueur for Apple to decimate entire swaths of its third-party ecosystem now, and Tim Cook did not disappoint this time.

Talk about Apple's WWDC announcements here:

 

This page will be updated with the latest news both during and after the keynote event.

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