What Apple’s WWDC Keynote Means for Designers

What Apple’s WWDC Keynote Means for Designers

I have always loved watching the Apple keynotes because it feels like Christmas morning. You have your wish list that you have been thinking about for the past month and now Tim Cook (Santa) has come to deliver the goods (presents). Sometimes you get what you want and other times, you are a little disappointed. But there are a few times you are pleasantly surprised.

Updated MacBook Airs and Pros

Tim’s first gifts: updates to the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro. Both were upgraded to the 3rd generation Intel Core (a.k.a. Ivy Bridge) and the USB ports are now 3.0 (and backwards compatible to 2.0).

11-inch MacBook Air

  • 1366 x 768 display
  • 1.7 GHz dual-core i5
  • 4GB RAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • 64GB flash storage
  • 5 hours
  • $999

13-inch MacBook Air

  • 1440 x 900 display
  • 1.8GHz dual-core i5
  • 4GB RAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • 128GB flash storage
  • 7 hours
  • $1199

13-inch MacBook Pro

  • 1280 x 800 display
  • 2.5 GHz dual-core i5
  • 4GB RAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • 500GB hard drive
  • 7 hours
  • $1199

15-inch MacBook Pro

  • 1440 x 900 display
  • 2.3GHz dual-core i7
  • 4GB RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 650M 512MB
  • 500GB hard drive
  • 7 hours
  • $1799

 

MacBook Pro with Retina Display

MacBook Pro with Retina Display

The big gift of the keynote was the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The beautiful display that you enjoy on the iPhone 4/4S and the latest iPad (3) is now available for the first time on a laptop. Not only that, it is super thin – 0.71 inches / 4.46 lbs. compared to the other MacBook Pros weighing in at 0.95 inches / 5.6 lbs.

  • 15.4 Retina display (2880 x 1800 resolution at 220 ppi)
  • 2.3GHz dual-core i7
  • 8GB RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 650M 1GB
  • 256GB flash drive
  • 7 hours
  • $2199

 

This machine looks stunning – thin, light, fast, gorgeous display – what’s not to like?

First, the hard drive is not a hard drive, but a solid state flash drive. That means quicker startup times, applications opening in seconds and saving files faster. But the trade-off is smaller capacity.

First, the hard drive is not a hard drive, but a solid state flash drive. That means quicker startup times, applications opening in seconds and saving files faster. But the trade-off is smaller capacity. The flash drives are more expensive, so you get half the size of the other MacBook Pros. Apple’s thinking is you are going to want the speed and you will be using iCloud or Dropbox to save most of your files anyway.

Second, the MacBook Pro had to lose some features in order to get so thin and light. There is no optical drive (throw out your CDs and DVDs!) and no Ethernet port (adapters are available for $29.00).

Third, all the parts are proprietary. Apple crammed a lot into that slim case and that means they got very creative with the space and components. They used proprietary screws and glue. You read that right… glue. iFixit disassembled a new MacBook Pro and found that trying to upgrade or repair this on your own would be foolish. It may even be impossible to have it upgraded or repaired at the Apple Store without them replacing the whole innards.

On that note, I give you the following warning:

If you are going to buy the MacBook Pro with the Retina display, please buy the AppleCare Protection Plan!

It is a little pricy at $349, but if anything goes wrong, Apple will repair or replace it within two years of purchase.

Right now you’re thinking, “Well, I always buy the AppleCare when I buy an Apple product. You aren’t telling me anything new.” Okay, fair enough, but have you thought about this…

Buy the configuration you want now because you can’t upgrade the MacBook Pro later!

I bought a MacBook Pro about six months ago with the thought that I’ll upgrade the RAM later. I can’t do that with this MacBook. There is no way to open it up without creating a 4.46 pound paperweight. If you think you need more RAM or a bigger flash drive, get it now.

But What About the Mac Pro?

Hear that sound? That’s the sound of crickets. Nothing was said about the Mac Pro during the keynote speech.

The Mac Pro is in sore need of an upgrade (two years since the last upgrade), but all they did on Tuesday was bump up the RAM and processor speed. Not even Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 ports.

This led to speculation that Apple was going to discontinue the Mac Pro, but on Wednesday Tim Cook wrote in an email that they were working on “something really great” for the professional market for 2013.

When will They be Available?

The MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MacBook Pro with Retina display and Mac Pro are available as soon as you find your credit card.

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