Apple News from WWDC 2012

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Apple threw a party today called the Worldwide Developers Conference. This was the 23rd WWDC. Apple CEO Tim Cook and others took the stage to announce several updated and new products. It was a given that one of the announcements would be about iOS6, the Mac mobile operating system, since anyone peeking through the windows of Moscone Center in San Francisco could see the banners going up.

installing iOS 6 banner at Moscone Center
Image from 9to5mac.com

The excitement began hours in advance of the event, with people issuing breathless announcements that the Apple Store was down (a sign that changes are coming) and tweeting photos of the long line of devotees waiting to get in the door.

Here's some of what they heard when the doors finally opened. Siri was in the spotlight first, warming up the crowd with jokes like "I'm excited about the new Samsung. Not the phone: the refrigerator."

Tim Cook began by talking about the App Store, which has more credit card accounts than any other commercial site. With 650,000 apps, 30 billion downloads, and over 5 billion paid to app developers, Cook called the App Store an economy unto itself. He thanked the developers at the conference for all the incredible apps.

The major announcements from the event included iOS 6, Mac OS X Mountain Lion, and a new MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

iOS 6 and iDevices

iOS 6 comes in with 200 new features, including enhancements to Siri.

Siri is moving to the iPad. Siri now knows about sports, restaurants (integrated with Yelp and Open Table), and movies. You can launch apps with Siri. Siri has a feature called "Eyes Free" which should let you talk to Siri in your car without having to look away from the road. So far, Apple is working with BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chysler, and Honda on this.

Maps have been updated completely. This one is a biggie and rumors of it are supposedly why Google came out with 3D maps a few days ago. Maps have a new feature called Flyover that will provide 3D photos. When you zoom in far enough, you can see buildings in 3D. Satellite views are also available in 3D. Local search has added 100 million business listings. Traffic View can show you traffic info that is crowd-sourced and realtime. Turn-by-turn navigation is now built in that is aware of traffic and other incidents and can choose a route based on that. It's integrated with Siri so you just have to speak to Siri to get directions. Siri reads out the turn-by-turn directions.

iOS 6 will include many more languages and local search will move to many more places around the world.

iOS6 will have Facebook built in, the way Twitter has been. You can post to Facebook from many apps, maps, Safari and more. Siri will work with Facebook, too. Facebook contacts, events, and other features will be integrated with your calendar and contacts.

A new feature on iPhone lets you set a reminder to call someone back when you can't take their call, or lets you respond to the call with a text. Your phone number and Apple ID will be unified so that you can see phone calls on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone.

Do Not Disturb lets you turn off push notifications, text messages, certain phone numbers when you do not want to be disturbed.

FaceTime will now work over cellular networks. (It required wifi before.)

Safari on iOS 6 will include iCloud tabs and offline reading. You can upload photos from Safari to your favorite websites.

Photo Stream is free. It uses iCloud. It allows you to share photos with friends and to get your photos to all your devices. Photos can be viewed in any devices, including TVs.

Enhancements to Mail include marking some of your contacts as VIPs so you get a push notification when they appear. There's a VIP mailbox and a flagged mailbox.

Passbook is a new app that keeps your passes organized. This means boarding passes, movie tickets, store cards, hotel check-in, coupons etc., in one place. It's location based, so when you go somewhere, like Starbucks, the right info pops up. And the cards are "live" so if your gate changes at the airport, it pops up with an updated boarding pass.

Improvements in accessiblity include Guided Access to keep kids out of certain settings or that disable the Home button. These are designed for kids with autism, but are useful in other ways, too.

iOS 6 will ship in the fall. It will work on iPhone 3GS and later, 2nd and 3rd Gen iPad and iPod Touch.

Mac X Mountain Lion

The new operating system is Mountain Lion, which will have over 200 new features. Some key features:

  • iCloud is built in, which means Apple apps are updated automatically. And Documents will be part of the cloud - as will Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Preview, and Text Edit.
  • Mountain Lion will allow you to interact with your phone and respond to your phone while on the computer. From the opposite viewpoint, you can use your phone to make changes to Documents or anything in iCloud.
  • All the various types of alerts you get have been replaced with a Notification Center in Mountain Lion. You have control over how you get those notifications.
  • Dictation will let you speak anywhere you can type.
  • Facebook, Twitter and third party apps are built in and also work with Dictation.
  • Safari now has a smart search field. It matches from your bookmarks, your browsing history, and your other devices. Pages from other devices open in iCloud Tabs. Browsing is unified across all devices. You can use gestures to navigate tabs.
  • Power Nap is a new feature that updates you Mac while it sleeps. When you plug it in for the night, it refeshes data, apps, Time Capsule, etc.
  • Airplay mirroring lets you mirror content from your Mac to a projector or TV.
  • Game Center from iOS is integrated with Mountain Lion and with AirPlay. So you can now play games from Game Center on the big screen.

Mountain Lion will be available next month from the Mac App Store. A single purchase will upgrade all your Macs. Mountain Lion is $19.95.

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