SAN FRANCISCO — Apple Inc. took the wraps off its own mobile mapping service and made its enhanced Siri voice-search available for iPads as it rolled out souped-up software and hardware today to help it wage war on Google Inc.
CEO Tim Cook, who took over from late co-founder Steve Jobs last August, spearheaded the unveiling of new services — such as in-house mapping and beefed-up Siri software — to help keep at bay Google and its fast-growing Android mobile platform.
Its new mobile operating software — the iOS6 — comes with a mapping system “built from the ground up,” said software chief Scott Forstall, sidelining the Google map service that the Internet giant has invested heavily in.
Apple’s map service comes with three-dimensional images of cities called “Flyover” along with real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn navigation.
And Siri, the innovative voice-activated iPhone search-feature users have criticized as faulty and inadequate, is now available on iPads and recites a larger database of answers, especially sports, restaurants and movies. It is also integrated into the new mapping service.
Finally, executives said Apple has integrated No. 1 social network Facebook deeper into the operating system, allowing Siri-users to post photos with voice commands.
Long lines marked the beginning of the week-long annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference, where Apple developers rub shoulders with employees, test the latest products and software, and connect with peers. Apple kicked off proceedings by touting its hardware, its biggest edge over Google.
At 0.7 inches, the new MacBook Pro — Apple’s highest-end laptop — ranks among the thinnest laptops in the market and will hit store shelves months before many Microsoft Windows-equipped “Ultrabooks.” They will employ the “retina” displays that have won strong positive reviews for the new iPad, but start at an eye-popping $2,199 price tag.
Marketing chief Phil Schiller outlined how the redesigned MacBook Air notebooks, also unveiled at the conference, will be about $100 cheaper on average than predecessors, but sport quicker Intel Corp processors, potentially eating into territory staked out by Hewlett-Packard, Dell Inc and other PC makers.
Analysts have speculated that the company will begin aggressively competing on price, gradually shrinking the premium its Macs carry in general.