The opening keynote at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference in San Franciscos Moscone Center West featured the usual hoopla, plus a few new touches. There was a stand-up comedy routine from Siri, the madcap personal assistant, which took shots at Android. There were the usual demos with the usual bombast. But contained in all of that hype were some important facts.
But perhaps more important than the individual product announcements is the fact that Apple is doing something that its competitors arent. Apple is releasing major upgrades to its mobile platform software, and its doing it in a way thats highly accessible to use in some cases freeand in the process is providing significant value to its customers. This is something Apples competitors, Google and Microsoft, havent managed to do.
Googles fractured, fragmented and inconsistent practices of managing updates to Android is already causing some long-time users to drop Android for mobile operating systems with more consistency. Microsoft, meanwhile, provides consistent updates, but charges a lot, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to upgrade.
Apple, as demonstrated at the June 11 WWDC keynote, is gaining owner loyalty by making it easy and inexpensive to stay up-to-date, while providing incentives to move to new devices. Your iPad 2 will get iOS 6, for example, but if you want Siri, youll need to get a new iPad.
The keynote at WWDC was an all-mobile event. The expected desktop Macs with their quad-core Xeons were a side show. But showing instead was a new MacBook pro with quad-core Ivy Bridge i7 processors, a Retina display, 768 GB of flash storage and extreme thinness. The new MacBook Pro weighs just over 4 pounds and is .71 inches thick. This computer may measure like an Ultrabook, but this is no Ultrabook. Instead, its the notebook, re-imagined to borrow Apples term for it.
Apple also introduced two updated versions of its existing MacBook, the Air and the original Pro, both with Ivy Bridge processors and USB 3.0 ports, but the same screens as before. The new MacBooks will be less expensive than last years models. Coming on the heels of the new MacBooks is Mountain Lion, which is the latest iteration of OS X. Mountain Lion arrives in July, and will feature support for the Retina display, integration with iCloud and some new messaging features. Mountain Lion is designed to allow better integration with iOS devices as well.
Probably the most anticipated news is iOS 6, which will arrive for the new iPad and the iPad 2, as well as iPhones from the 3GS onwards and iPods from the 4th generation on. iOS 6 brings Siri to the new iPad. It also brings a new 3D mapping program that includes turn-by-turn navigation. The new version of Safari includes shared tabs that let you start browsing on one device and continue on another. The tabs are shared between all devices with the new version of Safari, so you can share tabs between your iPhone and your MacBook, for example.