June 11, 2012 at 12:36 PM ET
After a witty intro by Siri herself, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage in San Francisco to welcome developers and announce new stuff. Cook had a lot to say about the success of the app program, with 30 billion downloads of 650,000 distinct apps worldwide.
Once Cook rattled off the specs, they played a video about the success of apps, from one that a blind man built to help seeing-impaired people get around, to the successful Airbnb, a place for couch surfers to find homes away from home, to a speech therapy tool for iPad that's helping a little girl learn how to communicate. It may be marketing, but parts are truly touching. Needless to say, the developers applauded profusely.
"We would like to thank everyone in the developer community for the incredible apps that you've done for us," says Cook.
Next, global marketing VP Phil Schiller announced updates to the MacBook line. The MacBook Air gets 3rd-gen Core chips, up to 2GHz dual-core i7. It also gets storage up to 512 GB Flash storage, with 2x read speed. And it gets USB 3.0 and a 720p camera. The new models start shipping today.
The 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros get Ivy Bridge processors, a new-generation GeForce graphics card and USB 3.0, while the prices stay the same.
But the big news is the "next generation" MacBook Pro, which is about as thin as a MacBook Air, with a 15-inch "retina display" of 2880 x 1800 pixels. It's ridiculously gorgeous and thin.
But it's not just about the display and thinness. There's a quad-core i7 chip up to 2.7GHz; up to 16GB of RAM; the new GeForce Kepler graphics and 768GB of internal flash storage. YOW! Battery life sounds right: 7 hours on a charge, with 30 days of standby. And as for ports: SD, HDMI, USB 3, a new MagSafe 2 and two Thunderbolts ports.
There is no optical drive.
Read into that what you will, but clearly Apple will not be supporting Blu-ray anytime soon (or ever).
Adobe, Autodesk and others are developing apps to work with the new retina display. (Aside to the creative people: Hooray for Photoshop being in sync with Mac development!)
OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
After the pulse-racing MacBook unveiling, Apple execs took things down a notch to discuss features of OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion, including drill-down on stuff that has already been revealed. For a quick look at those features, have a look here. Some awesome ones include Messages, dictation, sharing and AirPlay mirroring, which lets you send up to 1080p video from Mac to Apple TV.
The new Safari is great: You can click a cloud icon to see tabs open on other devices such as iPads and iPhones, and if you zoom out, each tab becomes a thumbnail, so you can easily get to the tab you want.
Mountain Lion will launch next month, and will cost $19.99. We've got more details on Mountain Lion's upcoming release here.
iOS 6 for iPhone and iPad
Following Mountain Lion, SVP of iOS software Scott Forstall took the stage to unveil iOS 6, something that had been somewhat confirmed, but without any details.
First on his agenda was Siri: "In eight months, Siri has been studying up and learning a lot," says Forstall. Now, in iOS 6, you can ask score of last Giants game, even batting average of a given player, team standings. Impressive (if it works in my house).
Forstall: "Who is taller, Lebron or Kobe?" Siri: "Lebron James appears to be slightly taller."
In addition to sports, Siri does more with restaurant details, and is partnered with Yelp for reviews and OpenTable for reservations. Yes, you can make dinner reservations with Siri. Good news for a food person like myself.
For movies, Rotten Tomatoes reviews are integrated, and you can tap inside Siri to watch trailers.
Best of all, Siri can now launch apps.
New driving mode for Siri: "Eyes free," says Forstall. Button on steering wheel of some car manufacturers including GM, Toyota, Honda, Land Rover, Audi, Mercedes Benz and BMW.
Siri will also speak 15 languages including Korean, Italian, Mandarin and Cantonese.
Facebook integration is next. Integrated within iOS 6 (photos, calendars, contacts, etc.) and even the App Store and iTunes, where you can like stuff, instead of Pinging it like nobody does now. Forstall says Facebook is coming to Mac OS, too, though it wasn't mentioned earlier.
Apple is building its own mapping service, complete with fresh maps of the whole globe, plus built-in turn-by-turn navigation, so you don't need a third-party app anymore. There's also crowd-sourced traffic data (anonymously gathered, says Apple) tied into the service, so you have realistic ETAs and smart routing.
There's also a beautiful new photo mapping feature called "Flyover" which lets you view major landmarks in 3-D. Not sure if they've got your house in there, but it's gorgeous to look upon.
More iOS 6 stuff, in rapid succession:
Forstall introduced a whole new app, too, called Passbook. Codes for boarding passes (United, Amtrak), store cards (Starbucks, Target), tickets (Fandango, SF Giants), reservations (W Hotels), etc. are all collected in one app. When you visit the store or venue, the app automatically pulls up the right card. And when you're done with a given card, there's a cute shredding animation.
I'm done updating this story with the pertinent news, but by all means feel free to ask me further questions on Twitter at @wjrothman.
I'm here inside the Moscone Center for Apple's 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference. It's going to get exciting, but for now, it's just a bunch of people milling around. Luminaries in the front, press to the side, and the Apple developer army making up the bulk of the auditorium.