At WWDC 2012, Apple Offers Evolutionary Updates to Hardware and Software

Anyone expecting a revolutionary new Apple TV or a complete overhaul of the MacBook Pro line of laptops was probably disappointed by Apple’s lengthy Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2012 keynote address on Monday. But then, Apple’s easily pleased fans can never be truly disappointed, so the company’s refreshed MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, Mac Pros, OS X “Mountain Lion,” and iOS 6 mobile software will have to qualify as exciting.

After a goofy opening with the lackluster Siri voice control—which admittedly did feature a decent joke about looking forward “to the new Samsung … refrigerator”—Apple got down to business, with its usual boastful rundown of stats. It’s the corporate version of the kid no one liked in high school who shows up at every reunion to brag about how successful they’ve become.

Apple then ran through its Mac hardware upgrades. Ignoring the Mac mini and iMac, which were not upgraded at all (at least not yet), Apple introduced refreshed versions of its MacBook Air (updated as expected to the latest Intel chipset) and MacBook Pro. In the case of the latter, Apple discontinued the poorly-selling 17-inch MacBook Pro and offered only small refreshes to the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros, again adding the latest Intel chipsets but not offering a form factor update of any kind.

Apple did however introduce an all-new MacBook Pro, a 15-inch slightly slimmer version without an optical drive and with a stunning 2880-by-1800 “retina” display. This beauty will set you back at least $2,200 to $2,800, however, depending on the model.

Regarding the Mac OS, Apple announced that the next version of OS X would ship in July, with upgrade pricing of just $20. This version of the system, called Mountain Lion, adds features similar to those in iOS, Apple’s mobile OS, and the company showed off a few new features, including Facebook integration and Power Nap, which lets the Mac snag software updates while sleeping, similar to the Connected Standby feature Microsoft announced for Windows 8 last year.

Apple also announced iOS 6, the coming version of its mobile OS for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Due later this year, most likely alongside a new iPhone, iOS 6 will add “200” new features, Apple says, including a new Maps app (in which Apple’s battle with Google is branded as “a new feature”), new Siri features, Facebook integration, a new Passport app, new sharing features, and more.

Lacking a definitive “one more thing” moment—a hallmark of many of the keynote addresses by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs—this year’s WWDC was big, even big on content, but it was lacking a single unexpected “wow” moment. Virtually every single product or feature Apple announced had been leaked for weeks or even months before the show. More disappointing, perhaps, rumors of a coming Apple TV revision with new developer extensibility features and motion control were, as it turns out, just so much noise. 

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