Apple announces iOS6, new MacBook Pro – everything you need to know

A revamped operating system, a totally new MacBook Pro and integration with Facebook were just three of the biggest announcements from Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference keynote this morning.

And while there wasn’t a new smartphone announced – that will come later this year – the tech giant did confirm one giant rumour by revealing a plan to ditch Google Maps and use its own home-grown service for maps and location data.

Chief executive Tim Cook started off the event with some impressive stats – Apple has sold more than 365 million iOS devices, and 80% of those are running iOS 5, the latest version of the company’s software.

Here’s a guide to the most important announcements made this morning:

iOS 6

The latest version of the iOS software, this will be coming later this year with more than 200 new features.

Siri has been given a significant update, allowing users to access Yahoo sports data, better integration with Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes and one that users have been waiting for – the ability to launch apps. You can also connect to Twitter and make a tweet directly through voice commands.

Car manufacturers will also include a “Siri” button, with some brands, including BMW, GM, Audi and Honda, to include a dedicated button. Siri for iPad was also announced, although it remains difficult to see what users will want a dedicated voice agent for on their iPad.

Facebook is now “baked in” to the iOS, allowing users to share photos, links, maps, iTunes links, while RSVPed Facebook Events add to the calendar.

The phone app has been given a revamp. If you don’t pick up when someone calls, you can set a reminder to call them back later, or there’s a button to just SMS them back directly. You can also enter a “do not disturb” feature, which tells your phone not to bother you with messages, although you can set user exceptions.

FaceTime can now be used over broadband, instead of just Wi-Fi.

Safari has been given a makeover, with the ability to sync tabs across iOS devices, and you can upload photos straight from Safari as well.

The new system enables you to share photo streams with friends and in the mail app; you can set VIPs whose messages are given a dedicated category.

Passbook app

This is a new one. Apple is introducing a new app that will allow people to keep all their boarding passes, tickets and coupons in one place. You can also set up reminders so when you enter a store or airport your pass pops up.

There are a few partners already, including Starbucks, United Airlines and Amtrak, but the success of this one will depend on the strength of the partnerships.

There’s some pretty impressive features here – if you have a boarding pass, the app will even tell you if your gate changes.

Maps

This one is huge. Apple is completely leaving Google Maps behind and will use its own service, which integrates with Yelp – Siri already integrates with the review service. The Apple Maps give a 3D view of the area you’re looking at, similar to the Satellite view in Google Maps.

Users can access turn-by-turn navigation, the service works from the lock screen, and Siri can find certain destinations for you as well. Apple’s also working on a real-time, crowd-sourced traffic information flow.

New MacBook Pro

Phil Schiller showed off the new MacBook Pro this morning, which Apple calls the “Next Generation” line. The device uses the high-definition Retina Display, is powered by a Core i7 2.3Ghz Processor, and the company even claims it’ll have seven hours of battery life.

It’s also extremely thin, at 0.71 inches, down from 0.91.

“Everything inside has been reinvented,” Schiller said. The device comes with 768GB of storage, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt and an HDMI port. And in a first for the company, there will be no optical drive. With the MacBook Air already losing the optical drive some time ago, it’s clear Apple is dreaming of a future with no DVD drives.

It’s expensive, though. The Australian Apple Store is charging a minimum of $2,499 for the new Retina Display version.

Mountain Lion updates

For OS X users, there were a few updates announced, including separate apps for Messages, Reminders and Notes, along with a new notification system. There’s also native dictation support, along with the “do not disturb” button which ceases all notification announcements.

New MacBook Air

The MacBook Air has been given an update, with a new Ivy Bridge processor, USB 3.0 connectivity, and 4GB of RAM with an option to upgrade to 8GB. The solid-state drive also goes up to 512GB of room, and the FaceTime camera has been upgraded to 720p.

There’s also been a price drop, with the gadget starting at $1,099 for the 11-inch version.

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