Appleland has been abuzz with changes for the last few months. Apple released the newest iteration of OS X, Mountain Lion (OS X version 10.8), released a completely upgraded line of laptop computers (MacBook Pro and MacBook Air), announced that it will release iOS6 in October 2012, and set up a media event for September 12, 2012, at which most people believe that Apple will introduce the iPhone 5 and announce its impending release. A fair amount of speculation about a mini-iPad (believed planned for release in time for the holiday season) has caused some to anticipate that Apple may also announce the mini-iPad at its September 12, 2012, press event.
I have enough to talk about with what we know about iOS 6 and the already released Mountain Lion and laptop upgrades, so I won’t do much speculating about the iPhone 5 and even less about the possible mini-iPad.
With respect to the mini-iPad, I think that Apple will introduce one and that it will likely trump the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet in terms of its specifications and because of the iTunes Store. I would anticipate that it will include most, if not all, of the features of the new iPad in a smaller configuration, starting at a $299–$350 price point.
I have no doubt that Apple will announce its iPhone 5 and have it available before Thanksgiving. Expect the iPhone 5 to include a faster processor, larger display, and the ability to access 4G networks. The larger display will likely necessitate a larger footprint. I would expect that the larger footprint will also allow Apple to make the iPhone 5 thinner than the iPhone 4S. I expect that Apple will make the iPhone 5 available in October 2012 at about the same time it releases iOS 6.
Speaking of iOS 6, in addition to coming out on the iPhone 5, it will work with the new iPad and the iPad 2: the iPod Touch (4th Generation): and the iPhone 3gs, 4, and 4s. Apple claims more than 200 new features for iOS 6, including improved web browsing, remodeled email access, the ability to send a text message immediately when declining a call from someone, face time over cellular, passbook (financial transactions through your phone), Facebook integration, expanded Siri services (and Siri availability on the iPad), and a completely redesigned Maps program giving you more and better detail and directions. Apple has also said it will revise the iTunes Store experience in conjunction with the release of iOS 6. If you want an excellent preview of the new features in iOS 6, you can check out Apple’s own preview of iOS6 on its website. I will look at iOS 6 more closely once it is released.
Apple released Mountain Lion as the newest iteration of IOS X. You can get Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store (and only from the Mac App Store) as a download for $19.99. Because it is a large download, do not attempt it except with broadband access. I have installed Mountain Lion on almost all of my Mac computers, laptops, and desktops and had no problem with the process. I have found no problems with the installation or the operation of Mountain Lion. If you plan to install it on more than one computer, I recommend that you download it once and then copy it to an external drive and transfer it to the other computers. If you don’t do that, you will end up downloading it again for each computer, a time-consuming process that will burden your broadband access. Mountain Lion costs $19.99. Once you have purchased it in your account at the App Store, you can install it on all computers that you have on the same account.
Mountain Lion brought many new features and improved on a number of existing features. Apple claims more than 200 new features in Mountain Lion. Highlights of the new software include the following.
Your new “To-Do” list allows you to set deadlines and reminders as the deadlines get closer. You can sync your reminders through iCloud to your other computers and iOS devices.
You can make notes about whatever you want on any of your computers, and then send the notes through Mail or Messages (see below). Notes syncs to your other computers and iOS devices through iCloud. You can also add attachments (such as pictures) to your notes.
Mountain Lion brings iMessage to your computers, allowing you to send messages to and receive messages from your computers and your iOS devices. Conversations can start on one device and continue from another connected device. You can send documents, contact information, videos, and pictures through Messages. You can send to one person or several people.
Your computer will now let you know when you have new email, a calendar event, or a message with a notification that appears in the same place on your computer display.
Mountain Lion builds voice recognition software into your Mac. Dictation uses the built-in microphone on your Mac to accept your spoken words and convert them to text. The program learns by doing, so it gets better as you use it more.
Power Nap lets your Mac update Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Notes, Photo Stream, Find My Mac, and Documents in the Cloud while it sleeps when it is connected to the Internet and a power source. It will also let Time Machine make backups and download software updates.
Mountain Lion facilitates sharing through the use of the Share button. You can share photos, videos, and other files through Mail, Messages, and Air Drop. You can also send information directly to a variety of social networking programs. Speaking of social networking, Mountain Lion can connect you directly to Twitter and to Facebook as well.
Now you can easily display information from your Mac on your HDTV using Apple TV. AirPlay audio will also stream to AirPlay enabled speakers.
Security remains a concern for all of us. Mountain Lion helps by building in protection against installing malicious software.
Apple has an extensive discussion of Mountain Lion and its new features on its website. If you want a more detailed discussion of the features I have highlighted above or wish to learn more about Mountain Lion and more of its new and improved features, check it out on Apple’s website.
Apple also refreshed its entire line of laptops introducing new and improved versions of each of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models. The improvements include new and/or faster processors, improved graphics, more RAM, and, in the case of the 15" MacBook Pro an available Retina display.
The Mac Book Air continues to come in two sizes, 11.6" and 13.3". Both come with your choice of Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and much faster graphics (Apple says up to 60% faster). Flash drives of up to 512 GB on the 13" ad 256GB on the 11" Mac Book Air give you the ability to boot up very quickly and store your data with less risk of loss. The new devices use Thunderbolt for external display connections and also come with USB 3.0 allowing much faster data transfer than its predecessors. The built-in camera allows you to use the computers for FaceTime using 720p HD. Pricing on the 11" MacBook Air starts at $999 and on the 13" MacBook Air at $1,099. Apple lets you configure the MacBook Air by upgrading the processor from an i5 to an i7, increasing the memory from 4 GB of RAM to 8 GB of RAM and selecting among flash drive sizes of 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB.
Apple now offers three basic models of the MacBook Pro. You can get a 13", a 15", or a 15" with Retina display. All models come with either Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 Processors and faster graphics. All models except the Retina display 15" accept a maximum of 8 GB of Ram. If you opt for the Retina display model, you can get up to 16 GB of RAM. All models allow you to configure for faster processors and among several choices of serial ATA hard drives or flash memory drives. Pricing on the 13" MacBook Pro starts at $1,199. The 15" MacBook Pro computers start at $1,799. The 15" MacBook Pro with Retina Display starts at $2,199.
The following chart from the Apple web site gives you a good summary comparison of the features of the various models.
The Apple web site gives you the opportunity to explore all the models and variations available for the new laptops and to check out pricing for the configuration that works best for you. You can also check the basic versions out at your local Apple Store. If you want a configuration other than the basic version, however, you will need to order it on line (or from the Apple Store), because the stores only carry the basic configurations.
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All images courtesy of Apple.