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WWDC Apple liveblog

Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicks off today with a keynote address from CEO Tim Cook and company. This year, Apple is expected to make announcements about  iOS 6, Mountain Lion, iCloud, and fresh Mac and MacBook hardware. (Check out our full round-up of predictions.)

VentureBeat reporters Dean Takahashi, Dylan Tweney, and Heather Kelly will be reporting  live from the keynote at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco starting at 10:00AM Pacific time. We’ll be updating this page with news and photos as it happens. We’ll also be tweeting from the event here, and following up with more in-depth articles on the announcements here.

Here are some of the biggest announcements from today’s keynote:


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10:01am – Apple kicks off the event with a Siri video — Siri’s got jokes! “I am excited about the new Samsung. Not the phone: The refrigerator.”

10:02am – Tim Cook hits the stage. “This is our 23rd WWDC. Yes, it’s older than many of you are. This is the longest-running developer conference that we know of anywhere,” he said. This year’s WWDC sold out in 1 hour and 45 minutes — versus 8 days for last year’s conference.

Cook says that Apple now has over 650,000 apps in the App Store, 225,000 of which has been designed specifically for the iPad. Customers have now downloaded about 30 billion apps, and Apple has paid out more than $5 billion to app developers.

“There are such heartwarming stories out there, of what the combination of our incredible devices and your amazing apps have made in people’s lives,” Cook said. He paused, looked down, and looked emotional as he said that last line.

10:10am -A video starts playing, in which a blind man with a German accent is using an iPhone app to walk through a forest. “People write me from around the world, saying ‘You have changed my life,'” the developer of the app for blind people says.

Now there are kids learning anatomy in a classroom in India. Next, the video highlights someone who owns a tiny treehouse in the woods in Vermont, which they rent out using AirBnB on their iPhone.

“Apple makes it so easy for designers like us, for engineers like us, to stretch our imagination,” the Airbnb CEO says in the video.

Now they’re showing a cute little kid with speech development issues using an iPad to learn how to communicate. “iOS is so intuitive for anyone to use, regardless of age,” the developer says. [OMG barf. There’s a a bunch of people saying “Thank you” to various app developers.]

Enter, new MacBooks

10:16am – Now Cook is back on stage. “On behalf of Apple, we would like to thank everyone in the developer community for the incredible apps you’ve done for us. Thank you.” He introdcues Phil Schiller, to discuss some “exciting changes in our notebook lineup.”

Here comes the news: First about the MacBook Air, which will once again be available in 11-inch and 13-inch sizes. It will feature a third gen Intel Core processor (Ivy Bridge) and will sport up to a 2.0GHz dual-core i7 chip, with Intel Turbo Boost to 3.2GHz, and up to 8GB of 1600MHz memory. You can now install up to 512GB of flash drive storage, running at speeds up to 500 Mbps (SATA 3). They’re also adding USB 3.0, with USB 3/USB 2 ports on both sides (each port works with both types of USB). It will also get a 720p HD webcam.

It’ll cost you $999 and $1,099 for the 11-inch MacBook Airs, and $1,199 and $1,499 for the 13-inchers. Both models are shipping today.

Next up, the MacBook Pro: They’ll offer Ivy Bridge processors up to 2.7GHz on most models, as well as a quad-core i7 on the larger, 15-inch model. The MacBook Pros can be equipped with up to 8GB of 1600MHz memory, and discrete Nvidia graphics is also an option (Apple claims it’s 60% faster than last year’s). Both models also have USB 3.

The MacBook Pros will be priced at $1,199 or $1,499 for the 13-inch model, and $1,799 or $2,199 for the 15-inch model. Both will also be shipping today.

“Nobody turns over their entire line as quickly or as completely as we do,” Schiller said.

Now the slide reveals a black cloth-covered mystery computer. (The crowd cheers. They like secrets.)

10:25am – “You want a next-generation MacBook Pro to have a killer display…. You want it to be radically thin and light. You want to make something unlike any other notebook today,” Schiller said. “It’s the most beautiful computer we’ve ever made.”

Video on the screen shows that it’s very thin — lower part of the computer’s body is thinner than Schiller’s finger. Nice visual effect there: The black background made it look as if it were a rendering, but it was actually a video of the real computer onstage.

This new MacBook Pro is 0.71 inch thick — only a little thicker than a MacBook Air — and 4.46 pounds. It sports a 15.1 Retina Display with an astounding 2,880 x 1,800 resolution.From a normal working distance, your retina cannot discern individual pixels. The screen is 220 pixels per inch, with 5,184,000 pixels — “the world’s highest-resolution notebook display,” Schiller said.

The new display uses IPS technology for wide viewing angles, and reduced glare by up to 75 percent. It offers deeper blacks and brighter colors, Schiller says.

Lion applications have been updated to take advantage of the display, including Mail, Safari, iMovie, and iPhoto. Final Cut Pro is also being updated: You can now fit a 1080p video at full resolution in the upper right of the screen, with “over 3 million pixels left over” for timeline, video effects, thumbnails, etc.

Apps need to be updated to take advantage of the Retina display – if not, they can be pixel-doubled. Adobe is working on an updated, Retina-ready version of PhotoShop. Autodesk is working on a new version of Autodesk. And game developers are working on this too, including Blizzard for Diablo III.

“Everything inside this Macbook Pro has been redesigned,” Schiller said. The inside is symmetrical, black, minimalistic. It looks like they’ve covered all the logos and chip identifiers. There’s a huge, odd-shaped array of batteries, and what looks like two fans.

The new Macbook Pro sports up to 16GB of RAM, GeForce GT 650M processor (from Nnidia) with up to 1GB of video RAM, and up to 768GB of flash drive storage. It has up to 7 hours of battery life and up to 30 days of standby time. Ports include an SD slot, HDMI (full-sized), USB 3/2 (one on each side), a new, thinner MagSafe 2 plug, and two Thunderbolt ports. The laptop also has a backlit keyboard, 802.11n Wi-Fi. Bluetooth 4.0. HD Facetime camera, dual microphones, and nice speakers.

Schiller touts a few new Thunderbolt devices, and shows off a FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet adapter for Thunderbolt.

10:37am – Now they’re rolling a video. It starts with Jony Ive, naturally.

“To create it, we rigorously questioned the ways we designed and built our portable products in the past,” Jony Ive says in a video.

For instance, the blades on the cooling fans are positioned irregularly (Ive says “asymmetrically”) in order to spread the fan noise across several frequencies, making it less noticeable. (That’s just insane. What’s next? Bespoke aluminum, hand-milled from organic Nepali aluminum miners?)

Pricing for the new MacBook Pro starts at $2,199, and it also starts shipping today.

“And that concludes our notebook lineup,” Schiller says. “It’s simply the best computer apple has ever made.”

OS X Mountain Lion, revealed

10:44am – Craig Federighi comes onstage to talk about OS X. There have been 26 million copies of OS X shipped to date — Apple’s best seller yet. 40 percent of OS X users are running Lion (after 9 months) — by comparison, Windows 7 took 27 months to get to the same level.

He formally announced OS X Mountain Lion, with an interface optimized for multitouch trackpads and mice, as well as easier integration with other devices. There are more than 200 new features, and he’s going to detail 8 of them.

First: iCloud. Several new apps in Mountain Lion, including Messages, Reminders, and Notes, will bring your documents to iCloud. There’s also a new app caled Documents in the Cloud, that will let you access other docs through Apple’s cloud storage service. “It provides a simple new way to access and organize your documents,” Federighi says.

Newest documents appear at the top, and all docs are available across all your devices. Docs in the Cloud works with Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Preview, TextEdit.

The Reminders app now supports multitouch for paging through your reminders, new animations. The Mountain Lion Notes app syncs with your iPad notes. Not surprisingly, the Messages app brings iMessage to the Mac, so you can respond from wherever you are, and your conversations are all available on your Mac, too.

Federighi describes the new Notifications Center as, “A consistent, elegant system based on banners and alerts.” Banners slide down into the upper right corner, just like Growl messages. After they go away, you can bring them back with a two-finger swipe from the right side of your trackpad. There will also be alerts, which function just like banners, except they stick around until dismissed.

Mountain Lion also sports built-in dictation and sharing features. There’s a “share” button in the toolbar in Safari (and other apps presumably), so you can share things to different services. It works in Preview, or you do it from “quick look” in any app that supports that. Sharing is built right into the OS, so you can enter your login (to mail, Twitter, Flickr, etc) from System Preferences.

10:54am – Ferighi calls the new Safari, “The fastest browser engine on the planet.” There’s a new unified search/URL bar, just like Chrome. You can just start typing, and it will autosuggest search phrases as well as items from your history and favorites. There’s an “iCloud” button on the toolbar. Click it, and it shows you a list of all the pages you have open in browsers on all of your devices.

A new tabbed interface supports multitouch gestures in Safari. You can also zoom in with multitouch (like in Lion). But if you zoom further out, you see all your open tabs and you can swipe between them, then pinch to zoom in on the one you want.

Slick feature here: There’s a quick-access “Tweet sheet” in notification center, so you can post a tweet. Federighi shows off by using Dictation to compose a tweet there.

A new feature called “Power Nap” fetches your email, calendar updates, and even syncs your photo stream while your Mac is sleeping. It Can also back itself up to Time Capsule and download/install system updates. “It’s operation is entirely silent … and easy on your battery,” Federighi says.

With AirPlay Mirroring, the Airplay menu now lets you select any nearby Apple TV and mirror your Mac’s screen at 1080p resolution. You also can send audio to AirPlay-enabled stereos and speakers.

Game Center, obviously, brings the iOS Game Center to the Mac. Uses the same account you might already have on iOS. It supports both turn-based and head-to-head gaming across Mac/iOS platforms.

11:06am – Time for another demo: A white-suited racecar driver with a helmet named Racer OS X comes onstage. He’s showing off CSR Racing.

Next they showed off a handful of other features, really quickly, including: Gatekeeper (anti-malware), Offline Reading List (in Safari — a read later feature). For developers, there are 1,700 new APIs. In China, there’s a new Pinyin input method, a Chinese dictionary, 8 new fonts, and sharing support for Sina, Youku, Tudou.

Mountain Lion will be coming to customers next month, via the Mac App Store for $19.99. That’s an upgrade price for anyone with Snow Leopard or more recent, and that single purchase will work across all of your Macs. Developers are getting a Developer Preview version today.

Everything you ever wanted to know about iOS 6

11:10am – Next up: Scott Forstall hits the stage for an update on iOS. He says there are over 365 million iOS devices shipped. Over 80 percent are running iOS 5.

84 of the top 100 social apps are pushing notifications via Notification Centers, he boasts. They’ve sent more than 1.5 trillion push notifications for these apps. 140 million iMessage users have sent more than 150 billion messages, more than 1 billion per day.

Twitter has seen a 3x growth in iOS users since integration, who have sent 10 billion tweets, Forstall said. 47 percent of Twitter’s shared photos come from iOS 5. There are now 130 million accounts on Game Center, with 5 billion score updates per week.

“I’m very happy to announce iOS 6,” Forstall eventually said. It offers over 200 new features, including improvements to Siri like sports awareness. You can ask “What was the score of the last Giants game?”, or “What is Buster Posey’s batting average?” The result shows a stats card.

Siri knows about baseball, basketball, football. Someone asks “Who is taller: LeBron, or Kobe?”

Siri also sports Open Table support, as well as better restaurant data, including average pricing, reviews, etc — via a partnership with Yelp.

“Siri’s become something of a movie buff,” Forstall says. New integration with Rotten Tomatoes includes integrated trailer playing (and likely reviews, and help movie showtimes). Siri can launch apps now too. “Play Temple Run,” and Siri launches it immediately.

There’s a new feature called “Eyes Free,” part of a a partnership with a number of car manufactures. A finger on a steering wheel button can bring up Siri (while your phone remains docked, and the screen remains dark). Car companies working with Apple include BMW, GM, Mercedes, Audi, Toyota, GM, Honda, Land Rover, and Jaguar.

Apple is adding Siri support for a bunch of languages and countries, including Korean, Mandarin (for Taiwan), Cantonese (for Hong Kong) and Mandarin or Cantonese for mainland China. This includes local search support “around the world” and in native languages.

Finally, Siri is coming to the iPad.

11:26am – Next up: Facebook integration. “We are integrating Facebook right into iOS 6.” You can log in through settings, and apps can then access your login for posting photos, locations, updates, etc.

Facebook is also integrated into the notification center, and you can tap to update Twitter or Facebook from within Notification Center. As part of the integration, the iOS API gives apps access to Facebook, your contact list also syncs with your friends’ contact information from Facebook, and Facebook events and birthdays appear in your calendar. (The same integration also appears in Mountain Lion on the Mac.)

There have also been some useful Phone application updates. The popup menu when you receive a call now includes a “remind me later” option so you can remind yourself to return incoming calls. A new “Do not disturb” option turns off notification of push notifications, text messages, phone calls — although you can designate exceptions to who can call you. There’s a “repeated calls” option so you can allow someone to get through if they call twice in under 3 minutes.

11:35am – FaceTime now works over cellular data connections, Apple confirmed. Facetime now links your Apple ID and your phone number, so if someone calls your phone number, you can take the call or reply to messages on your iPad or your Mac.

Two-thirds of all mobile web traffic comes from mobile Safari, Forstall says. Safari in iOS 6 adds ability to view open tabs on other devices (including your Mac), and the Offline Reading List feature. You can also upload photos from within Safari to sites like Shutterfly.

“Smart app banners” let websites display a banner to notify visitors about a native app. A single click takes you right into the App Store to install the app. If they have the app installed, Safari can pass data to the app so you can switch to the app and pick up where you were on the corresponding website.

Your Photostream can now be shared in iOS 6. You can check the photos you want to share, and choose friends from your address book. Friends receive a push notification, and your photos then appear in a shared album in their Photos app. Can also be viewed on a Mac, Apple TV, or web browser.

The Mail app has also received some nice updates. A new “VIP” feature lets you mark someone as an important person. When you get an email from a VIP person, you get a notification on the lock screen, just as if they’d sent you a text message. There’s also a special “VIP” mailbox for access to those messages. You can more easily insert photos and video, and you can open and view office documents within Mail.

Passbook, a new feature to iOS 6, consolidates passes, like airline boarding passes, Starbucks card, QR codes, and movie theater confirmation emails. Templates make it easy for developers to work with this. Passbook integrates into the lock screen, so it pops up on the lock screen at the right time. Unlock the phone, and there’s the QR code. Passbook has geolocation features, too, so if you walk by your favorite Starbucks, the app lets you know.

Forstall then introduced Guided Access, a new feature that allows you to circle controls with your finger that you want to disable, in any app. You can also disable the home button, so it keeps you in the app.

“We’ve been surprised by the number of children with autism who have been flocking to our devices, especially the iPad,” Forstall said.

Guided Access is also useful for schools that might want to lock an iPad-based test onto the screen, so kids can’t go to Safari to look up the answers.

Finally, Apple announces its own iOS Maps app

11:52am -“We have built an entirely new mapping system from the ground up, and it is beautiful,” Forstall said.

Apple’s long-awaited Map app offers worldwide coverage, all with Apple’s own cartography. 100 million business listings around the world are already included for local search (with Yelp integration). Apple is also building a traffic service, which not only shows slow areas but also includes little icons to show incident reports. The traffic functionality utilizes anonymous, realtime data from iOS users to keep the data updated.

Apple’s new Maps app will also include turn-by-turn navigation. Navigation will update ETAs based on traffic, and will reroute you if necessary. It’s also accessible via the lock screen, and is integrated with Siri.

“Are we there yet?” Siri answers: “Relax and enjoy the drive. You’ll be there in 14 minutes.”

The Maps app will also sport a new “Flyover” feature. Apple has been flying over metro areas in helicopters and planes to build 3D models and HD imagery. Maps are all vector-based images, so zooming and rotation is really fast. The app includes pop-up info cards on points of interest, as well as a quick 3D view.

The Flyover view is pretty cool: Pick a spot, and it renders a 3D photographic view that lets you zoom around and fly over that point.

The demo shows why Apple wanted to build its own maps application: This is faster and better-looking than any other maps app I’ve seen, plus it has the characteristic easy-to-use Apple UI and excellent integration with Siri.

Wrapping up, Forstall notes that all the OS X features for China are included in iOS 6 as well.

A beta of iOS 6 is available to developers today. It will ship this Fall, will support the iPhone 3GS and later, the 2nd and 3rd generation iPad, and the 4th generation iPod Touch.

Wrapping up

Now Tim Cook returns to the stage. (To enthusiastic cheers.) He recaps the day’s news: new Retina-display-sporting MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion, and iOS 6.

“Only Apple could make such amazing hardware, software, and services,” Cook said. “We are so proud of these products, because they are perfect examples of what Apple does best.”

This is why people come to work with Apple, he says: “To do the very best work of their lives… and to make a difference to so many people around the world. The products that we make, combined with the apps that you make, can fundamentally change the world.”

“I can’t think of a better reason for getting up in the morning,” Cook concludes.

And that’s a wrap.

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New MacBook Air powers up with Ivy Bridge processors and a 512GB SSD

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