Apple unveils faster MacBook Air, major iOS update

@CNNMoneyTech June 11, 2012: 6:04 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference was chock-full of announcements, but perhaps the most compelling was its faster new MacBook laptop line, which now includes a next-generation Pro.

Still, the new products weren't enough to lift Apple's stock out of the mini funk it's been in along with the rest of the market lately. Apple's stock tends to fall after product announcements, and Monday was no different as shares ended the day 1.6% lower.

WWDC kicked off with jokes from Siri, the iPhone's voice assistant. Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) CEO Tim Cook helmed the conference for the first time, after the death of former CEO Steve Jobs in October.

First up was Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller, who talked about the hotly anticipated updates to the MacBook laptops.

MacBooks: The ultra-thin MacBook Air got big changes, but the price stayed the same, starting at $999 for 11-inch models. (See correction below) Each will feature a 720p camera and new Ivy Bridge processors from Intel (INTC, Fortune 500).

The rest of the Air's guts are also new and improved: up to 8 GB of memory and 512 GB of flash storage. The new Air models begin shipping Monday.

Schiller took a swipe at ultrabooks, the super-thin laptop PCs that launched last year but haven't taken off so far, as a failed attempt to knock off the MacBook Air: "Everyone is trying to copy it, but it's not so easy."

The higher-end MacBook Pro will also feature an Ivy Bridge processor. The new model includes 60% faster graphics and up to 1 GB of video memory. As before, the Pro starts at $1,199 for a 13-inch model.

Then Schiller literally pulled the cloth off a new notebook: the MacBook Pro with Retina display. This next-generation Pro features an iPad-like high-pixel display, at 2880 x 1800 pixels. It starts at $2,199.

Apple says it's the "world's highest resolution display," and programs including Final Cut Pro and Safari have been updated to take advantage. Glare is reduced by 70%.

The next-gen Pro is just 0.71 inches thick, about the same as a MacBook Air, and weighs about 4.5 pounds. It features 1 GB of video memory, up to 768 GB of flash storage and about 7 hours of battery life.

The iPhone scores new features: While Apple didn't announce an all-new phone, its operating system update will be a huge facelift for the iPhone.

Scott Forstall, the head of iOS software -- which powers both the iPhone and the iPad -- talked about Apple's iOS 6, which will have more than 200 new features.

That includes marked improvements with the Siri voice assistant -- which will now be available on the iPad. Siri is now connected with sports data, Yelp (YELP) reviews and OpenTable (OPEN) reservations. The assistant can also launch apps -- an update that was met with applause -- and post to Twitter and Facebook (FB).

Perhaps the biggest new Siri feature is "Eyes Free," a car-integration service. Forstall said car manufacturers have promised to put a Siri button into steering wheels within the next 12 months.

The other big iOS announcement was the expected dumping of Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) Maps. Apple's own new maps service includes crowd-sourced traffic data and a "flyover" 3-D feature, as well as an option to find a faster route.

Facebook (FB) will be fully integrated with iOS 6, keeping friends' contact information updated on the iPhone and storing events in the device's calendar. Users can also "like" content directly from the App Store and iTunes.

Other iOS 6 features include a "Do Not Disturb" option, in which users can control which calls they want to receive -- or set reminders to call back later. FaceTime video calls can also now be made over a cell network, instead of only Wi-Fi.

Meanwhile, the iPhone is becoming increasingly mass-market, as two wireless carriers recently announced they'll offer prepaid plans. Leap Wireless' (LEAP) Cricket brand will start selling the first prepaid iPhone on June 22. One week later, Virgin Mobile will add the device to its own prepaid lineup.

Updates to Mac's OS: Mac software head Craig Federighi detailed more features of OS X Mountain Lion, the operating system that's "designed with innovations from iPad."

Mountain Lion will include than 200 new features, Federighi said. That includes apps optimized for its iCloud sync service, more sharing options, streamlined web browsing and new dictation capabilities.

The OS will be available next month for $19.99, about $10 cheaper than the previous version.

At last year's WWDC -- which the late Jobs ran -- Apple unveiled its iCloud service and software updates for iPhone, iPad and Macintosh computers. Those updates included new features similar to popular third-party apps like Instapaper and GroupMe, which left some developers nervous.

Apple stock: To infinity and beyond? hile many industry watchers believe Apple's stock is fairly valued, its shares have been on a meteoric rise over its record-breaking past few months.

Shares are up 45% in 2012 alone, with double-digit percentage growth in January, February and March. That followed a stellar earnings report in January, in which Apple said it generated record tech-industry sales of $46.3 billion for its fiscal first quarter.

Apple shares topped $600 for the first time on March 15, just one month after they cracked the $500 level. A few days later the company announced a stock dividend -- its first since 1995 -- and a share buyback.

On April 10, Apple's valuation briefly crossed the $600 billion mark, a feat previously achieved only by Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500).

But after that milestone, Apple's stock fell prey to weakness in the overall market. The stock tumbled 11% in a one-month period from early April to early May, despite reporting strong quarterly earnings.

After a further dip in early May, Apple shares have bounced back a bit and are trading at about $585 each.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated the price of the MacBook Air was cut by $100. The price remained the same at $999. The original article also misstated the thickness of the next-generation Pro. To top of page

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