June 12, 2012

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WWDC 2012 Keynote Wrapup

As a professional IT person, I make a point of watching the livestream for events like WWDC Keynotes. Within 24 hours someone is asking me if they can have the new X, what I think about the new Y, or some questions about the exact details of Z. Plus I prefer to get my information first hand, not summarized (when possible). After the 2012 WWDC keynote I have some thoughts to share on the announcements.

First, lets take a look at the MacBook refresh. This was 100% expected and nothing there was surprising. Overall they increased the processor speeds, the RAM availability, and the size of the SSDs. I’m always up for more RAM and CPU, but the SSD upgrade is very pricey. Since I work corporate IT, I generally don’t order an SSD above 128 GB anyway as there are very few people who need a 256 GB HD (or more) for strictly business purposes. I was pleased to see the inclusion of USB 3.0 on all the machines (and it seems on all the ports). I’ve got a lot more USB 3 external drives than I do Thunderbolt drives (read: no Thunderbolt drives).

Next is Mountain Lion. Every year now they put out a new version of OSX and every year it has “over 200 new features”. That is pure marketing BS because no one cares about the “New date picker” or the “New Dictionaries”. Most of the big features they mentioned were yawners also: Twitter and Facebook integration? That’s the best you can do Apple? The only major feature worth noting is “Gatekeeper” because it keeps you “Safe” which should be properly read as “Keeps you buying from the mac store ONLY”; here comes the Mac walled garden.

What I’d love to know from Apple is why they even bother charging for the OS upgrades any more? Each of the last few OS upgrades has become progressively cheaper and progressively easier to steal. Not that I advocate doing such things, but one purchase from the Mac store upgrades all your machines (great) and you can write it to USB and upgrade any other machine you want — no key required.

Then there was the iOS 6 announcement. Again this was completely predictable and in my book, something they should have saved for a fall announcement. As with Mountain Lion, they are just dumping out a new “major version” of iOS every year and none of them have that much to write home about. Sure, the OS gets better each version, no argument there… but it’s got no sexy features (again, I don’t give a shit about Facebook). The only noteworthy feature I saw from iOS 6 is the ability to ignore a phone call with a text message reply or reminder. The text message reply is, like many recent iOS features, stolen from Android. Of course Apple put their usual polish on it and made it better (good for them).

I did leave the best item to talk about for last, the “Next Generation MacBook Pro” (NGMBP, With Retina Display). I think it’s validly a Good Thing (TM) because it is the first new product Apple has released in quite some time. While it retains the MacBook Pro name, it is not your run of the mill Pro, seeing as how it is only .75” thin (just a bit bigger than the Air). It doesn’t have the Air’s lightweight but the trade off is a Pro power machine. In fact the NGMBP is a little bit more powerful. This power and size comes with a price tag to match. The base model starts at $2200 and the top side maxes out just over $4,000 (including AppleCare, because for 4k you’re not gonna skimp on a warranty) at time of writing. Brion mentioned that he ordered one already (not maxed out) because he wanted a more portable development machine. The portable developer and the portable graphic artist are going to be the two big target demographics. I don’t think I’ll see too many of these in my corporate environment simply because they are so expensive.

Someone was saying that this was the machine you’ll be buying in a few years and that seems to be spot on. I suspect each year more of the MacBook Pro line will be converted to this new style. Multiple USB 3 ports and dual Thunderbolt ports is nothing to sneeze at. If you can’t afford a $4,000 computer now (I know I can’t), wait till next WWDC and the same thing will cost only $3,000 (or maybe less).