Yesterday’s kick-off presentation for the Apple WWDC featured some pretty huge announcements from the tech giant.
My five favorite points are as follows:
iOS 6 Maps
Apple has been quietly buying up small mapping companies here and there over the last year in preparation for what many (now correctly) thought would be the end of Google’s dominance in location services for iOS. If you’ve ever used Google Maps on an Android phone (I haven’t, but I’ve heard stories) you’ll know that there are more features available to since Android is Google’s proprietary software. Now Apple, instead of waiting for Google to port features like navigation and Goggles to iOS, has scrapped Google altogether. Turn-by-turn navigation and real-time 3D rendering in Apple’s new proprietary mapping software will be the new normal. So much so, that if you’re following a map on the road, it continues to display even if you lock your iPhone screen. A very handy feature for turning your phone into a true GPS mapping system.
MacBook Pro with Retina Displays
Much like they did with the iPad 2 and the “New” iPad, Apple has introduced a new line of laptop computers which has a similar moniker to an existing line. While it may seem confusing to some consumers, it’s obvious the new line will be phased in to replace the aging MacBook Pro line that already exists. For now, the older line is being kept around to provide buyers with a (just barely) more affordable option than the new, shiny versions. The new direction is rather telling, however. The interior motherboards have been completely redesigned to account for 3 main things: battery (it takes up 50% of the interior,) cooling (the new fan system and vents are streamlined and factored into the unibody design,) and solid state drives (flash memory is the basket wherein Apple is placing all of its eggs.) That Apple is moving towards flash memory so completely is not a surprise, given how many different ways your data can be stored in the cloud now. Not to mention adding a peripheral like Time Machine to your wireless home setup to add another layer of backup security. Also, Retina Displays on a laptop? We knew the day was coming. I know not everyone out there has had a chance to go hands-on with a third-gen iPad, so this may not seem like a big deal to you. AND I hate to say “you have to see it to believe it” but a Retina display honestly is one of those things you have to see to believe. But, Apple finally brought the display to personal computing. Let the imitators commence!
A $19.99 upgrade to the latest software. $20. Even if you’re still running Snow Leopard. That in and of itself is ‘enough said.’ But allow me to say a few more things. Notification Center in OS X, with full voice dictation, social media and instant app-launch capabilities. Voice Dictation system-wide! iCloud storage and syncing across all devices. Game Center syncing across laptops, desktops, iPhones, iPads, iPods. Talk about a fully integrated approach to gaming. When developers realize the full potential of such synchronicity, we’re in for some real treats.
Siri for iPad
For those who own the latest generation iPad, Siri will be coming to your device beginning this fall. (Earlier for developers.) Siri still receives mixed reviews, but what I like to constantly remind people is that iOS 6 will be Siri’s first actual update. She’s a beta product. A beta. That means she’s not fully formed. She’s been learning from the many ways people have been using her. There is an answer for those people who would ask “Why release a beta product if it needs to be better?” and it is this: Siri is an interactive AI assistant and requires interaction so as to become the fully featured product she’s meant to be. I know I’m humanizing her a bit by talking about her as an actual entity using female pronouns, but let’s face it, Siri is going to know all of our secrets one day.
This one may not interest everyone, but as a semi-frequent traveler and mobile-payment adopter, I definitely took notice of Passbook. It’s one of those aggregate apps – like Newstand or iBooks – that Apple is releasing that actually promises to be the one App to rule them all. There’s a big focus these days on the push towards the “mobile wallet” and this takes that idea and expands it to so many other areas of life. Have an airline app that you use while traveling? This will keep your boarding pass within a few taps of you at all times. Need to stop by Starbucks on the way to work? Chances are your iPhone is already in your lap or cup holder. As soon as you’re near a Starbucks, the Starbucks Card app becomes accessible from the lock screen. Same geo-fence rules apply to all Passbook-friendly apps. Anytime you’re near an app in your Passbook, it becomes accessible from the lock screen, saving you precious moments and countless screen taps.
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As I mentioned, these were the five points that caught my eye. There will most definitely be more oohs and ahhs from this fanboy in the months to come, with Mountain Lion’s release in July and iOS 6’s release in September. But for the casual observer, I say to thee, keep your eyes peeled for these features.