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Apple kicked off their Worldwide Developers Conference today with several major announcements. They introduced several hardware updates, particularly to the MacBook Air and Mac Pro lines, as well as updates to their two popular operating platforms, Mac OS X and iOS. Read on to find out exactly what went down.
With Intel’s official announcement of their fourth-generation Haswell CPUs at Computex 2013, it’s no surprise that Apple has already embraced the supposed low voltage chips for their ultraportable MacBook Air line. While the design remains fairly the same, both the 11.6” and 13.3” MacBook Air models will come standard with a dual-core Haswell 1.3 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, with a dual-core Haswell 1.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor also available. The new Haswell CPUs utilize integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000, which supports dual display and video mirroring as well as provide up to 40% faster graphics, according to Apple. Intel HD Graphics 5000 allows the MacBook Air to simultaneously support full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 x 1600 on an external display. 4GB of 1600 MHz onboard RAM is the base option while a maximum 8GB option is also available. Both MacBook Air models can also have either a 128GB or 256GB solid-state drive or up to 512GB SSD if desired.
Unfortunately, if you were hoping for a MacBook Air with a Retina display, Apple decided not to go that route. The 11.6” MacBook Air still has a 1366 x 768 native resolution and the 13.3” MacBook Air still has a 1440 x 900 native resolution. However, Apple is claiming that because of the new Intel Haswell CPUs, the 11.6” MacBook Air will be able to last up to 9 hours while the 13.3” MacBook Air can reach a lengthy 12 hours between charges. Of course, battery life will vary depending on usage, but these estimates are a vast improvement over their predecessors. Both the 11.6” MacBook Air and 13.3” MacBook Air with Intel Haswell processors are available starting today.
Mac Pro users rejoice! After only receiving modest updates for the last couple of years, Apple has finally decided to completely redesign their Mac Pro line. Instead of the familiar silver-grated enclosure, the Mac Pro will now feature a cylindrical chassis that is 9.9” tall and 6.6” wide. Apple announced that the Mac Pro will offer configurations that give up to 12 cores of processing power, up to 40 GB/s of PCIe gen 3 bandwidth and 256-bit-wide floating-point instructions so you’ll never be at a loss for speed. The Mac Pro will also offer four-channel DDR3 RAM at 1866 MHz. This delivers up to 60 GB/s of memory bandwidth, which means you’ll be able to multitask quickly and efficiently without being bogged down. The RAM will also be ECC memory so your render job, video export, or simulation won’t be stopped by transient memory errors.
While the new processors in the Mac Pro are impressive, the GPUs have also gotten a huge upgrade. The Mac Pro will now feature a state-of-the-art AMD FirePro workstation-class GPU with up to 6GB of dedicated memory. Oh, did we mention that the Mac Pro will have two of them? No? Well, now you know. With dual AMD FirePro GPUs, you’ll have up to 7 teraflops of computing power, which means you’ll be able to edit full-resolution 4K video while simultaneously rendering effects in the background and still have enough power to connect up to three high-resolution 4K displays.
The Mac Pro will now be using flash storage, which will offer much faster performance—albeit at a price. However, Apple is claiming that their flash storage will be 2.5 times faster than the fastest SATA-based solid-state drive and up to 10 times faster than 7200 rpm SATA hard drives. Apple designed the Mac Pro around new PCI Express-based flash controller technology to deliver up to 1250 MB/s.
The previous Mac Pro models never got Thunderbolt. Apparently, the new Mac Pro won’t either. That’s because it is skipping a generation. The Mac Pro will feature Thunderbolt 2, which provides up to 20 Gb/s of bandwidth to each external device. You’ll be able to add a PCI expansion chassis and work with the latest 4K desktop displays. And since Thunderbolt 2 still allows you to daisy-chain up to six peripherals, you can go all out by plugging in up to 36 external devices.
Other I/O ports making their Mac Pro debut are USB 3.0 and HDMI 1.4. The Mac Pro will also feature 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity for fast wireless Internet access as well as Bluetooth 4.0. The Mac Pro will be available later this year.
Mac OS X will be featuring a new name and surprisingly, it won’t be after another feline. The next version will have the name, Mac OS X Mavericks. Safari in Mac OS X Mavericks delivers faster performance and innovative features. Shared Links in the new Sidebar shows links posted by people you follow on Twitter and LinkedIn so you can keep up with new content. The redesigned Top Sites makes it easy to organize your favorites. Thanks to the new Nitro Tiered JIT and Fast Start technologies in Safari, the websites you visit feel more responsive. iCloud Keychain allows you store your website user names and passwords on the devices you’ve approved and protects them with robust AES 256-bit encryption and keeps them up to date on each device. The new Password Generator suggests unique, hard-to-guess passwords for your online accounts. iCloud Keychain works with credit card information as well so you can check out without having to re-enter your credit card number anytime you want to make an online purchase.
Arguably the biggest improvement of Mac OS X Mavericks is its approach to multiple displays. There’s no longer a primary and a secondary display when connecting multiple monitors in Mac OS X Mavericks. Each monitor will now have its own menu bar and the Dock is available on whichever screen you’re working. You can have multiple app windows running on either display or run an app full screen on each one. Mission Control makes it easy for you to drag what you want where you want it. You can even drag it across the room because now AirPlay and Apple TV can wirelessly turn your HDTV into a fully functional display.
With OSX Mavericks, you can run an app full-screen on each display.
Finder Tabs help you declutter your desktop by consolidating multiple Finder windows into one. You can switch between tabs, customize views and reorder them however you like. This makes it easy to move files since you just have to drag and drop them between tabs inside of separate windows. Tags can also be used to organize and find your files on your hard drive or on iCloud. Simply tag files you want to organize together with a keyword then you can find them again by entering it into the search field of the Finder. Tag a file once or give it multiple tags to assign it multiple projects.
As Apple said, Mac joins the book club. iBooks will now be available on Mac computers. Now the books you’ve downloaded on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch will appear on your Mac. Of course, iCloud pushes them to all your devices automatically for easy access. Maps will also be available on your Mac so you’ll be able to get real-time traffic reports, suggested alternate routes, point-to-point directions and Flyover, which is a photo-realistic interactive 3D experience that lets you get a bird eye’s view over select cities. The Calendar has also been streamlined with a new design and features. Continuous scrolling lets you navigate between the weeks and months smoothly while a new event inspector makes it easy to create and edit events. It shows your event’s location on a map, calculates the travel time and displays a weather forecast. Mac OS X Mavericks will be available this fall.
Apple also introduced a new iOS design, which is great news for all you iPhone and iPad users, who were getting a little bored with the iOS layout. Apple has refined the typography, redrawn every icon around a new grid system, and added a precise color palette for a minimalist design. The lock screen now requires you to slide up to unlock your iPhone.
The Notification Center now also has tabs for filtering between the notifications you received that day, see only the ones you’ve missed or just view all of them. Multitasking has also been redone. Now you can swipe between the apps themselves instead of just the app icons on the bottom of the screen.
There’s also the Control Center that gives you access to the most common setting options like Airplane Mode, volume, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Camera, AirPlay and more. iOS 7 also introduces AirDrop, where you can share photos, videos, and contacts from any app with a Share button.
Just tap Share and then select the person you want to share with. AirDrop does the rest using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Safari also gets a new tab view so you can see all your open websites in a consolidated view that lets you scroll effortlessly from tab to tab. To close a page, just swipe offscreen.
iOS 7 also introduces iTunes Radio (only available in the US), which lets you build your own stations and listen to your favorite songs. You can also view the history of everything you’ve heard and added to your Wish List and then download them off iTunes. Siri in iOS 7 also gets a new look, a new sound, and new capabilities. It features a redesigned interface and a more natural speech pattern available in a new female or male voice. Siri is faster at answering questions and checks more sources such as Twitter, Wikipedia, and Bing. Yes, we said Bing. This is Microsoft’s and Apple’s awkward moment. Siri can also take on additional tasks such as returning calls, playing voicemail, controlling iTunes Radio, and more. iOS 7 will be available in the fall of this year.
What do you think about Apple’s major changes to the Mac Pro? Will you be upgrading to the MacBook Air for the additional battery life? Do you have any thoughts on Mac OS X Mavericks or iOS 7? Leave us your questions and comments below!