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Apple updates laptops, iOS

Improved Siri integrates Fandango, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes

There was no new iPhone, no new iPad and certainly no news about the long-rumored TV set, but Apple still had plenty to say at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.

CEO Tim Cook announced a refresh of the company’s laptop series, a forthcoming series of advances to the iOS operating system and the long-awaited arrival of Siri on the iPad.

The iOS changes, which are likely to affect the largest swath of Apple users, are substantial. iOS 6, which will launch this fall, will include a significant upgrade of Siri. The popular digital assistant is being integrated to include IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango, letting the service recommend movies based on inquiries — and reserve tickets at local theaters if that film is still in theaters.

In addition to the integration of Siri as a function on the iPhone 4S, this upgrade will allow owners of the new iPad (introduced in March) to add the service to their tablets. (Older iPad owners will not receive Siri with the upgrade, however, nor will older iPhone owners.)

Similar partnerships with Yelp and OpenTable, will allow users to search for restaurant recommendations based on consumer feedback and make reservations at those locations.

iOS 6 will also fully integrate Facebook. Users will be able to post directly to Facebook from within Apple apps — making it easier to upload photos and check in at locations. The integration also includes the Calendar feature from the iPhone and iPad, making it easier to keep up with birthdays.

Phone calls will also be slightly different with the update, allowing users to send a message as they sidestep a call (such as “I’m in a meeting”) or set a reminder to call that party back later. In addition, the new “Do Not Disturb” feature turns off calls and messages at night. And Facetime, the iOS video conferencing technology, will now be supported on 3G networks.

As expected, Apple will jettison Google Maps in iOS 6, opting instead for an inhouse solution. The new maps feature will include nearby points of interest, quicker load times, traffic information and turn-by-turn navigation.

The updated iOS will run on iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, fourth generation iPod touch, the latest iPad and iPad 2. Owners of the original iPad will not be able to upgrade. It’s expected to launch in conjunction with this year’s refresh of the iPhone line.

While iOS devices have a larger footprint (the company said the iOS footprint now extends to 365 million devices), Apple rededicated itself to the computer field as well, announcing a revamped lineup of the MacBook Air line, which will include Intel’s new third-generation “Ivy Bridge” processors, which are noticeably faster than current-generation systems. The systems will also offer up to 512GB of speedy flash storage via solid state hard drives. Apple said the systems will be twice as fast as current models. Prices of the MacBook Pro line will remain the same, while the MacBook Air series will see a $100 price drop across all models.

The company also unveiled a new “next generation” MacBook Pro system that had the audience cooing. The new model is an ultrathin device, like the MacBook Air (and the Ultrabook PC line), but includes the Retina display technology used on the new iPad and iPhone 4S, offering a display resolution of 2880 by 1800 pixels.

Prices for the new system start at $2,199. All of the new MacBooks begin shipping today.

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