The EFTM Analysis: Apple’s WWDC 2012 announcements

On Tuesday morning Australian time, Apple announced the new iOS6, MacBook Pro with Retina Display, new iPad smart covers and a raft of other products at WWDC 2012. The...

On Tuesday morning Australian time, Apple announced the new iOS6, MacBook Pro with Retina Display, new iPad smart covers and a raft of other products at WWDC 2012. The EFTM team gathered around to sip lattes at a cafe and talk Apple…

NICK: I don’t mean to alarm you guys, but Apple had an event recently! OMG! LOL! ETC! Now that it’s over with, rampant speculation can give way to objective analysis. So, let’s give this a manly analysis: Do you guys think Apple scored last night? Or did they drop the ball over the touchline?

TREV: Geez… Fair suck of the sauce bottle, it’s a developers conference! People have these crazy expectations every time Apple opens its mouth to say something. That said, it is worth noting that the MacBook Pro with Retina display is a stunning machine.

Surely three keynotes a year is now obvious? iPad at the start of the year, WWDC and Mac Hardware in the middle and new iPhone at the end. Knowing this trend, I was neither blown away or disappointed with last night’s announcements… Damo?

DAMO: I think Apple fans were expecting a bit more, especially as new CEO Tim Cook is trying make his mark. The rumours swirling were bang on about the new products, but I think people expected the new line up of Macs to all have retina display, be thinner and perhaps have a few more spec changes. On the bottom end machines there is no difference in looks albeit a nice shiny new processor. It’s been a while now since Apple released anything that was completely new and different. And what happened to the Apple TV idea?

NICK: I have to agree with Trev here. I think Cook is making his mark in his own way, without needing an orgy of Apple fanboys spraying platitudes at him for being the new Steve Jobs. The fact is, he’s not Steve Jobs, so the days of “One more thing” and incredible new product unveilings are going to be few and far between. Expecting it every single time the company has an announcement is ridiculous.

As far as the actual announcements went, I thought it was largely in line with the company’s current trend on building on its current platforms. The improved notifications in iOS6 are going to be a welcome addition, and the Facebook integration into everything is pretty much everything it needs to be.

I am slightly disappointed by the lack of an Apple TV SDK. I love my little Apple TV box, and I’m hanging out for the day that Cupertino opens it up for developers to turn it into my portal to all online entertainment. But that said, I didn’t really expect it to happen at WWDC, so it’s no great loss.

What about you Trev? What impressed you from last night’s shenanigans?

TREV: I know it’s not cool to say, “well I predicted it”, but frankly, this morning’s announcements were exactly what I expected – with one missing item – new iMacs.  I think the iMac is in need of a refresh, although with that said there is still no all-in-one that comes close to being an interior icon like the iMac is.

No iPhone announcement was a no-brainer.  That’s a last quarter, pre-Christmas winner for them. This was all about the new iOS and OSX, given it’s a developers conference. The retina display on the MacBook and the great design really are big advances – packing a lot into a small form is a big deal, and for video editors it will be a real winner. But the thing that got me most? At a developers conference, telling anyone developing turn-by-turn apps, or ‘loyalty card’ apps, that there’s really no need anymore because Apple is doing it on its own. These new native apps are great stuff, and add real value to the iPhone.

If you had to pick two key features or announcements from last night Damo – which would they be?

DAMO: Don’t get me wrong, I agree with what’s been said so far for the most part. But I think there should have been more new features throughout the refresh. The two key announcements? iOS6 features and the retina display on the new MacBook Pro 15-inch. But wouldn’t it have been wonderful to see a MacBook Air with retina display? Or perhaps the new, thin, form factor of the MacBook Pro Retina in the rest of the line up? One thing that flew under the radar a bit, the new iPad smart covers which now protect the front and back of your precious tablet. About bloody time Apple but I love you for it. The back of my iPad has been getting too scratched up lately because I use an original smart cover. At least Apple will be getting a small portion of my next pay cheque. Did anything else seem to slip under the radar a bit?

NICK: I think you’re forgetting how Apple updates its product lines, Damo. They never, ever update everything to top of the line spec. They launch new features in one new product, and then roll out those features down the track, either when sales slow down or the cost of doing so decrease. There’s a reason the new Retina MBP starts at $2,499 when the old 15-inch MBP costs $1,999. Squeezing that kind of tech into an Air was going to seriously impact the price, which would have been suicide for one of the company’s hottest sellers.

DAMO: Yes, but Apple could have done the same thing with the Air as it did with the Pro and given consumers the option of an uber expensive top end Air. It may not be the Apple style anymore, but I miss the days of the all-new design refresh, like when all the new unibody MacBooks were revealed.

NICK: In terms of other announcements – well, the Mac Pro got a refresh, the Airport Express got an update and Apple gave the middle finger salute to Google’s mapping software. That last one’s going to make some pretty big waves – if you remember, Google maps on the original iPhone was one of the features that made the device so successful. Replacing it with its own software will be interesting to watch when iOS6 rolls out in the coming months, especially given it’s integration with services like Yelp that haven’t really taken off in Australia.

Lack of Google Maps could blow either way for Apple…

TREV: Sadly for Google, I think this is a good move by Apple. Users don’t care whose maps they are, they just want to get from A to B. I bet it’s only a small percentage who want more info, which Apple seem hell bent on getting now through deals with Yelp and other third party providers. Yelp is in Australia now so we should (fingers crossed) benefit from that data.

Facebook is the other big winner here, as is social media in general. The slide down notification bar now has tweet and post links right there, so the take up of these new functions will be excellent. Mobile is the new web and Facebook faces real challenges monetising that, but ultimately we shall see how things pan out.

Apple has won today.  We’re not debating Samsung’s lack of this or that, we’re debating Apple’s new announcements because it is just another benchmark for companies to strive to.

So my big question: who hasn’t looked online at a custom spec Mac Book Pro with Retina? I have.

NICK: Me too. But the fact I own a 12-month-old MacBook Air means I’ll be sticking with Sandy Bridge for a while longer. Although I will be jumping onto Mountain Lion nice and quick when it launches in July. $21 is a bargain for an OS upgrade.

As for iOS 6? Well, I’m going to hold off there for a little while. My iPhone 3G died pretty hard when I updated it to iOS4, and I’d hate for the same thing to happen to my iPhone 4. Depending on the release window for iOS 6, I might just wait for the new iPhone before I update iOS. While I wait, I’m going to keep praying for an Apple TV SDK so I can start using Spotify on the big screen…

DAMO: I’m still running Leopard on my 2008 iMac because it still works really well and is really fast. That’s the problem with Apple. When its products break, they do so in a really bad way really quickly, but when they work, boy do they work well. I wouldn’t buy a retina display MacBook Pro just yet. I would rather wait a few months, make sure there are no initial problems then I would think about it. The MacBook Airs are still extremely good value. If it was me plonking down the cash, I would go for a specced up 11-inch. It’s a bargain for the size and performance.

In terms of iOS6, I’m with Nick. My 3G died a horrid death just months after I first got it thanks to the iOS update to 4 and I won’t be making that same mistake again. My iPhone 4 is already starting to do some strange things (like not respond at all for a minute and then decide all is OK) so I would be a cheeky bastard to think I could get away with an iOS6 download. One day I will get a new Mac or even upgrade my iMac, but for now everything is running really well.

I worry that I might be left behind a bit because I am not completely up to date with the new operating system and what it can do, but also I can’t justify dropping the extra cash on a new Mac and don’t want to ruin my old one by putting on an OS it can’t cope with. Rock and a hard place.

TREV: Seriously, the 3 vs 3GS was a step, and 4 is a big step after that.  There is no cause for concern with upgrades at that level.  You already see some features removed like SIRI when that happens.

Just upgrade.  80% of people have!

NICK: Frankly, Apple has pulled off another PR win today, and they’ll have us on the hook in September/October for the new iPhone surely!

Web: Apple
Images: Apple

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Tech

Damian Francis has previously edited Australian T3 and F1 Racing magazine and wrote for GQ Australia and Men's Health. Unlike Nick and Trev, he has no kids, no mortgage and no wife, but lives happily on Sydney's North Shore with his girlfriend.
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