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Apple’s announcements at their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this year have been remarkable. Not so much for the fact they’ve broken new ground with product so much as they’ve laid down a gauntlet to Google and a variety of app developers (while also assisting some, to be fair).
As a self-confessed Apple fanboy I have to say I’m very much looking forward to iOS6 this autumn (though if I use half of the 200 updates it has I’ll be surprised), I definitely want (but won’t get) the new MacBook Pro with its retina display and I welcome the close integration with Facebook. I don’t really need to go into all the new features, it’s been done to death (see links at the end of this article) already. What I want to look at in a bit more detail is what all these things mean for everyone else.
Apple Maps Challenge Google Maps
The decision to drop Google Maps from iOS and instead use their own – and frankly much better looking – map services is not only going to please users but it’s going to be the first real challenge to Google Maps. Developers now have a real alternative. Yes, the likes of OpenStreetMap have already drawn some pretty big players away from Google Maps, but developing for Apple’s own Maps product is going to be infinitely more attractive.
Apple has acquired three mapping companies in the last few years and has put them all hard at work producing their own in-house map app. The results are quite stunning.
In addition to looking great, Apple’s Maps app provides 3D imagery and allows you to do flyovers of a given location. Like this.
Google have to be worried losing Apple as a Maps API customer. TomTom, on the other hand, will be delighted to be one of the suppliers…
Facebook Integration Suits Both Companies
Apple’s relationship with Facebook has always been a good one (even when Apple dropped Facebook from iOS4 at the last minute) – Steve Jobs was a mentor to Mark Zuckerberg – but until now it hasn’t really led to anything. However, with Facebook now baked into iOS6 in a similar, if not greater, was to Twitter in iOS5 we’re about to see the benefits of that relationship.
Twitter enjoyed a significant boost to sign ups with iOS5 and Facebook can expect to see the same with iOS6, not to mention the no doubt phenomenal increase in content being shared to the social network directly from iPhones and iPads. The more data Facebook has, the better it will be at serving ads so this could lead to a boost to the company’s share price (though that did not happen yesterday, interestingly).
TechCrunch’s Josh Constine did a nice write up on just how deeply embedded Facebook is into iOS6 here. It’s good reading. Especially if, like me, you’re a big supporter of both companies.
The benefits for Apple include more revenue from the App Store. With an increase in visibility of who downloads and likes what apps on Facebook, Apple (and the app developers) will certainly see an increase in downloads pretty much across the board. And it’s not only iOS6. Mountain Lion gets Facebook integration too.
Finally, all of this is another kick in the teeth for Google. In more ways than could possibly be listed here. Suffice to say, Google would kill for the kind of data Facebook and Apple are about to enjoy.
World’s First Retina Display Notebook
Apple announced the new MacBook Pro at WWDC and, as expected, it has a retina display. That’s a 15.4-inch screen boasting 220 ppi at 2880 x 1800 or 5,184,000 pixels. Wow. It’s also incredibly thin (as thin as a MacBook Air, says Apple’s Phil Schiller) and weighs just 4 pounds.
She’s a beauty and yeah, I want one. But for the top of the range model you’re talking $3749 (£2421 as I write). Still, you do get an Intel Core i7 CPU, 768GB of flash storage and an Nvidia Kepler GPU, the GeForce GT 650m, USB 3.0 as well joining Thunderbolt and HDMI (another world first). Oh, and 7 hours battery life with up to 30 days in standby, apparently. It is “simply the best computer we’ve ever made” according to Schiller. Who am I to argue? It’s available right now, too.
There is no other notebook manufacturer out there right now that can touch Apple for quality, spec and design in this area. The only place they are competitive is on price and there’s a very good reason for that – they cost less, because they’re worth less. And the inclusion of Intel processors in Apple’s range is one more slap in the face.
Did WWDC Live Up To Expectation?
Despite the lack of truly ground breaking product announcements (even the new MacBook Pro is only a ‘next step’ and an expected one at that) I have to say that Apple did manage to meet expectation on all fronts. Sure, there was now great surprise, but that’s not Apple’s fault. Such is the media / blogger attention on what Apple does next and so numerous are the rumours and guesses that it would actually be quite hard for Apple to really shock us these days. Somebody, somewhere, will have guessed right.
Nevertheless, the new MacBook and iOS6 are good enough to send us all home satisfied. Expect sales of the new MacBook to be huge, while the autumn launch of iOS6 (which will run on the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S) can’t come soon enough. I imagine the iPhone 5 will likely quickly follow it too…and that is where Apple needs to really pull something out of the bag to amaze us.
- TechCrunch – New MacBook Pro
- CultofMac – Apple Maps
- RWW – Mac OS X Mountain Lion
- AllFacebook – iOS6 /Mountain Lion + Facebook