Macs and more at WWDC
By Stephen WITHERS
So, what did we get at WWDC in terms of new Macs?
The 15in MacBook Pro with a Retina (220ppi) display was probably the highlight for many people, and marks a convergence between the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines - and, to a lesser extent, between the MacBook and iPad families. The new Pro is barely thicker than an Air, and uses flash storage rather than a hard disk. Standard configurations are 256GB or 512GB depending on CPU speed, with 768GB as a BTO option with 2.6 or 2.7GHx processors. The flash memory is reportedly soldered to the motherboard; if true, this means it is not upgradable after purchase. [Update: iFixit has now published its teardown of the new model, and the flash storage is on a removable module.]
Similarly, be aware that RAM is non-expandable on this model: if you think you may need 16GB rather than 8GB during the lifetime of the computer, that's what you'll need to buy at the outset.
Furthermore, there's no Ethernet interface on the MacBook Pro with Retina - if you want one, you'll need to buy the Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adaptor for $35 (compare with the Air's $29 USB Ethernet adaptor). That'll soon be followed by a Thunderbolt to FireWire adaptor.
But USB 3.0 has arrived on the 15in MacBook Pro, and can also be found on the updated 13in and 15in (non Retina) MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. The internal optical drive has gone, 'replaced' by the existing external drive as used with the MacBook Air. Those models also feature a Thunderbolt port, and Gigabit Ethernet and FireWire 800 are still standard.
When it came to the Mac Pro, Apple only managed a slight tweak by offering newer variants of the Xeon CPU in four, six and 12-core configurations (quad or 12-core in standard models). I doubt anyone's really bothered that the case hasn't changed, but there's no Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 ports, apparently because the chipsets used with these processors don't yet support either interface.
The rumoured new iMacs didn't materialise. But talking of iMac and Mac Pro. David Pogue says he was told by an executive that "that new models and new designs are under way, probably for release in 2013"
As for Mountain Lion, Apple didn't announce an exact release date but did reveal that it will be available next month for $20.99. It seems you'll be able to upgrade at that price from Lion or Snow Leopard. One newly revealed feature is Power Nap, which "automatically refreshes Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Notes, Photo Stream, Find My Mac and Documents in the Cloud, and when plugged in, downloads software updates and backs up your Mac using Time Machine" while the computer is otherwise asleep. The only models supporting this feature are the MacBook Pro with Retina display and the second and third generations of the MacBook Air.
Dictation (said to be available anywhere you can type) could be useful, though my experience with speech recognition hasn't been good. AirPlay Mirroring could be another reason to buy an Apple TV. As Adam recently pointed out, not all shows are available when you use catch-up TV services on a smart TV or Blu-ray player rather than on a computer.
But I don't care about the social Sharing support, forthcoming Facebook integration, or Game Center, and I'm waiting to see how well Documents in the Cloud works in terms of full compatibility between the Mac and iPad versions of the iWork applications.
Although the era of 99c apps has drastically changed our ideas of what software should cost. I reckon a lot of people will see $21-worth of value in Mountain Lion, especially as we've been hearing good things about it from those who have been running the developer preview.
Oh, and if you haven't already installed all of the flood of software updates that arrived this week, you might want to hold off on the Thunderbolt Software Update 1.2 (assuming it's relevant to your hardware), as it is reportedly causing kernel panics on at least some systems.
I've not heard of any particular problems with AirPort Utility 5.6.1 and AirPort Utility 6.1, Aperture 3.3, Apple Remote Desktop 3.5.2 Admin, Compressor 4.0.4, Final Cut Pro X 10.0.5, iMovie 9.0.6, iPhoto 9.3, iPhoto Library Upgrader 1.0, iTunes 10.6.3, Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 9, Java for OS X Lion 2012-004, MacBook Pro (Mid 2012) Software Update 1.0, MacBook Pro (Retina) Trackpad Update 1.0, Motion 5.0.4, or Motion 5 Content v.1.1.
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