WWDC Smackdown: Who Apple Hit Hardest Today

Illustration for article titled WWDC Smackdown: Who Apple Hit Hardest Today

Apple announced so much great new stuff today, and Tim Cook walked away looking too fine and fancy. But not everyone else left in such good shape. Apple threw plenty of haymakers at its biggest competitors; here are the Manny Pacquiaos* of WWDC 2012.


Google Maps

Not content to start today's keynote by having Siri tell jokes at Android's expense, Apple went on to unveil new in-house maps that really put the screws to Google. Features like local search (which lets you find local businesses and see Yelp ratings among other things), 3D city views, and flyovers are all longstanding features of Google Maps. Everyone knew this was coming, to the point that Google tried to get out in front of it with its own hastily thrown press conference last week, to announce its 3D initiatives and a man-mounted StreetView camera.

The one thing Apple didn't mention was anything resembling StreetView, which remains a killer feature and one Google has put a ton of investment into. But still. This is a tough loss for the big G. And that's before we even mention the turn-by turn directions read to you by Siri. Speaking of which....

Navigation Apps

Apple's maps finally deliver audible turn-by-turn driving directions, with live updates should you go off track, or should a better alternative come up along the way. It features estimated arrival times, traffic data, and automatically changes camera angles to give you a view of upcoming turns and course changes. And Siri is going to read it all to you. Select automakers are even building Siri buttons into the dashboards of new vehicles.


Which is great for you, but really sucks for apps from Motion X GPS Drive, Garmin, and the entire cottage industry of navigation apps. The biggest kick in the teeth probably went to Waze. Waze is a fantastic little app that uses crowdsourced traffic data with specific road hazard information to get you from point a to point z as fast as possible. And it was just Sherlocked to shit by Apple's own crowdsourced traffic data-driven app.


Read-Later Apps

This one, you could see coming. Or at least, you should have been able to. Apps like Instapaper, Pocket and Readability are super popular because they let you bookmark a story in one place in time (like, on your Web browser while you are at work) and read it later on another (say, an iPad at night in bed). Even better, they strip out all the extraneous distracting visuals so you can focus on the text and in some cases images of a story.


And now Safari does all that too. The new Reading List function saves web pages wholesale for reading later, and syncs them across all of your devices. When you're ready to read, you can use Safari's Reader function to strip away all those extraneous elements, too. Instapaper and Pocket have been increasingly focused on discovery recently, helping you find new material to read, which now seems really smart. Because when it comes to purely read it later—and read it prettier—there's probably no use in fighting Apple.


You know how ultrabooks were finally starting to catch up to MacBooks? Yeah. So. Here's the new MacBook Pro with Retina display. Unless this thing turns out to have some major problem that isn't immediately apparent, like sending electric shocks to your genitals, it's pretty much the nicest portable machine anyone has ever built. It's way more expensive than your average ultrabook, but it's got way more horsepower, too. Oh, and don't forget those $1000 MacBook Airs that can go spec to spec with the best of the featherweights.


Your Existing Supply of MagSafe Power Cables

What? MagSafe2 electric boogaloo? Nooooooooo! I've been collecting these dudes for always! What will I do with all the other MagSafe power cables I've been stealing from journalists at every press conference I've gone to for the past six years? Now I guess I'm going to have to buy a bunch of tiny $10 magnets. I say "a bunch" because I'm going to lose approximately all of them, too. Oh well, at least you can be sure that this adapter is future proof and Apple won't roll out a new one in the next five years, right?



*Which is to say, losers, who were robbed, robbed! For you non-boxing watching sensitive types.




A couple of years ago when my elder child graduated from high school, my Mom bought said kid a Macbook for graduation. Not Pro, just the 13" plastic Macbook. In a couple more years when my younger kid graduates, I'm not sure what Grandma is going to be buying, since there's no more Macbook, and that Apple pricepoint is now occupied by the min-spec Air. In two more years, though, who knows what will occupy the bottom-end laptop spot at Apple.

Of course, this kid is much more into games than the older one, so we might wind up with a 17" monster Windows laptop instead.

I'm not saying I endorse either of these choices - this is between the kids and their Grandma. Personally, I would have gone with a 15" Windows notebook plus a nice external monitor for hooking up in the dorm room...