iOS 6 PreviewMany incremental features. Highlights:
- Maps: not based on Google’s data, any more, with turn-by-turn navigation and 3D aerial views.
- Facebook integration: Share photos and locations, system-wide sign-in, events integrated into Calendar, friend information integrated into Contacts. In some ways reminiscent of what Windows Phone 7 does.
- Shared Photo Streams: share pictures as either a stream or a web page.
- Passbook: Manage tickets, boarding passes, coupons, etc. Be notified if something changes. That should be especially handy for boarding passes. It would be nice to have a public web API for this.
- Reading List: The actual content of the pages is stored and synced for offline access.
- iCloud Tabs: You can view the currently open tabs on all devices, which is nice when you want to continue browsing on another device.
- Wherever there is a tag
<input type="file">you can upload photos and videos taken with your camera or pulled from your library.
- Smart App Banners: let the user know that the current website is also available as an app. They are displayed above the web content. I always hate this information, no matter how it is displayed. At least this might ensure that things stay moderately classy. I’m guessing that you’ll only have to dismiss such notifications once.
- Web data (SQLite etc.) can optionally be backed up (e.g. if you use a UIWebView).
OS X Mountain LionThe main theme is: OS X will be well integrated into the iOS ecosystem. That is great news. More of your data will sync. And you’ll be able to use Facetime, iMessages and Game Center as if your Mac was an iPhone. More features:
- iCloud: The advantages of iCloud are marketed by Apple as “easy setup” and “documents in the cloud”. The former is described as “Just sign in once with your Apple ID to set up Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, FaceTime, Game Center, Safari, Reminders, iTunes, the Mac App Store, and Notes”. The latter is a poor man’s Dropbox, where documents are segregated by app.
- Notification Center: is what I’m most looking forward to in Mountain Lion. Finally a standard way of managing notifications that every app will use. I keep hoping that one can also manage long-running background tasks there. That would be even more useful on iOS, because one would get an immediate picture of what is currently going on (downloads, music playing, Skype being online, etc.).
- Power Nap: If connected to a power source, OS X periodically wakes up and performs background tasks such as a backup or updating mail, contacts, etc. Measures are taken so that no lights are blinking and no noise is made, e.g. via system sounds or fans (i.e., the system will never be under load).
- Dictation: Not Siri, yet, but you’ll be able to dictate in most places in OS X.
- Sharing: Some applications can offer things for sharing, other apps can register ways of receiving those things. This kind of sharing is an evolution of OS X Services, actions that can be applied to the current selection. They can be found in the application menu, but not many people are aware of them. Sophisticated sharing is well known on other platforms: Windows 8 has contracts, Android has intents, etc.
- Facebook integration. Similar to what’s available on iOS. Minus having Facebook events in iCal, it seems.
- Gatekeeper : is a nice compromise between tightly controlling what people install and letting them install everything (with the accompanying security risks) – developers have to sign their apps and Apple can remotely disable them, should malicious behavior be discovered. Apart from that, they can be freely downloaded and installed.
- Safari: see above.
New notebooksThe introductions were mainly about the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display (MBPwRD). A few generally interesting news bits emerged, too:
- The 17" MacBook Pro has been discontinued. Apple keeps its lineup small which is smart, but will always disappoint some.
- All of the MacBooks now have USB 3 ports. That’s a big deal, because Apple has pushed Thunderbolt heavily in the past . However, there are still only a few Thunderbolt devices and it is expensive technology. The new strategy seems clear: Support the sufficiently speedy USB 3 for cheaper mass-market devices; use Thunderbolt for faster high-end devices and adapters, such as the upcoming Gigabit Ethernet Adapter and FireWire Adapter.
- Magsafe 2 power adapter: which is both thinner and wider than the existing adapter. Not being compatible with the existing adapters is painful, but apparently something had to give in order to make the MacBook Pro thinner.
- Quieter fans, because there are two openings for the air and the impeller blades are asymmetrically spaced. The latter change leads to the noise being more spread across the frequency spectrum and thus subjectively quieter.
- Custom high-quality speakers.
- Two microphones to reduce background noise.
- MagSafe 2 power port
- Two Thunderbolt ports
- Two USB 3 ports
- HDMI port
- Headphone port (support for Apple iPhone headset with remote and microphone; support for audio line out)
- SDXC card slot
- Separately sold adapters: Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet, Thunderbolt to FireWire
Conclusion: Apple’s new mode of operationApple has entered the mainstream. What they are currently doing is consistent and solid, yet incremental, work. While that means that introductions will always be a bit disappointing, it also makes sense. It’s better to offer a sense of continuity and security than to go for the wows (to a degree...). Compare that to how Microsoft completely overhauls Windows with each new version: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 8. That is not to say that I don’t appreciate Microsoft’s willingness to make radical changes. I like that OS X is increasingly getting mobile phone features (such as messaging and Facetime) and the general emphasis on iCloud.
There are still a few obvious holes left to be plugged in iOS , but those are getting fewer. I expect Apple to keep some iOS 6 features secret until the iPhone 5 comes out this fall.
More material on the web
- “The Mac's Mid-Life Crisis” (by MG Siegler for massive greatness) is surprised that Apple hasn’t already discontinued non-Retina MacBook Pros. Once they are gone, Apple should really heed his suggestion and drop the suffixes “Air” and “Pro”, too. Then we’ll simply have the MacBook 11", the MacBook 13" and the MacBook 15".
- “First look: Apple's Clock app comes to iPad with iOS 6” by Neil Hughes for AppleInsider. Can’t wait. I have really missed a good clock app on the iPad.
- “First look: iOS 6 Settings adds Do Not Disturb, quicker Bluetooth access” by Neil Hughes for AppleInsider. Interesting idea: Introduce an additional mode where you are disturbed less. I can also imagine this conserving battery if you are not interested in receiving calls but still want to be online.
- “iOS 6 features you might have missed” by Lex Friedman for Macworld. Contains many interesting details.
- “MacBook Pro Retina Display Analysis” by Anand Lal Shimpi for AnandTech. Highlights:
- You can scale the user interface in 5 levels, from larger text to more space.
- Reduced reflection (but only compared to previous glossy displays)
- “Apple Including Free MagSafe 2 Converter with Thunderbolt Display” by Eric Slivka for MacRumors
- “A week with iOS 6” by Charles Skoda for technochocolate.