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Apple Unveils Streamlined MacBook Pros with a Splash, Quietly Updates Mac Pro Towers

The High-End Notebook Gets a 15.4-inch Retina Display, But the 17-inch Model Disappears from the Lineup

When Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage today at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference held annually in San Francisco, the audience (and those of us in cyberspace) expected many things, among them details about new versions of the venerable Mac Pro towers long a staple of production and post facilities everywhere. Cook did have lots to share, but he ended his remarks just before 3:00 pm ET without filling in the blanks about the Mac Pro's future. The company, however, has quietly and only slightly upgraded its Mac Pro offerings according to its site, where it lists new benchmarks for the upgraded towers ( a 20% increase in Final Cut Pro X performance) and new pricepoints. (For a nice summary, check out this post from The Verge.)

As expected, Apple also announced OS X Mountain Lion operating system and new notebook computers, including a MacBook Pro with a 15.4-inch retina display, seven-hour battery and a 256 GB Flash memory drive for $2199. (For full specs on additional configurations, including a 768 GB HDD model and an interactive look at the retina display model, go here.) Those notebooks, like the new MacBook Airs also announced, are impressively thin and sleek. When Phil Schiller, Apple's head of world-wide marketing, took to the stage he aligned the new MacBook Pro with his finger to give audience members some clear perspective on its narrow frame. Is this the end of the line for the beloved "cheese grater" towers? And are these new MacBook Pros their eventual successors? Unfortunately, there are still enough missing details that might definitively answer these questions. Also missing, at least during the keynote, was any mention of what will become of the 17-inch version of the MacBook Pro.

Siri, a kind of otherwordly Steve Jobs stand-in, warmed up the crowd at the start of the keynote and returned an hour later with more Siri-related news. The voice-activated search assistant can now launch apps and has added maps that will integrate better with reservation apps like OpenTable. She will also be coming to the latest iPad that shipped in March. Other related announcements included new dictation abilities that will be coming to the Mac and "third-party applications like Microsoft Word."

The big iOS news of the day for iPhone and iPad users included iOS 6 details about improved maps and full Facebook integration. Another interesting tidbit: of the 650,000+ apps in the App Store, roughly one third were designed specifically for the iPad.
 

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