Apple refreshes the Air, iOS, and a few other things

A new laptop with a shiny new Retina screen wasn’t all Apple was introducing today in San Francisco, with the Cupertino company also showing off an update to its popular ultra-thin notebook, as well as the latest version of iOS, Mac OS X, and Airport Express, among other things.

First up is the MacBook Air, and Apple is refreshing the two computers that make up that line-up, bumping the specs up with Intel’s latest generation of Core processors while keeping the price the same. Both the 11 inch and 13 inch MacBook Air computers receive dual-core Intel Core i5 processors, but can be pushed to dual-core i7 models, as well as receiving up to 512GB solid-state storage, up to 8GB RAM, Intel’s latest HD 4000 graphics, USB 3.0 ports, and a 720p FaceTime HD camera.

Thunderbolt is included now as a matter of course, as is an incremental update to Apple’s MagSafe power port technology, now thinner than the original version.

Pricing hasn’t really changed here, with the 11 inch starting from $1,099 RRP, while the 13 inch starts at $1,349 RRP.

Apple’s operating system for these computers will also be getting an update next month, shifting to OSX 10.8, also known as “Mountain Lion”.

This update to Mac OS will cost $20.99 when it arrives in July, and will bring with a slew of new features, including integration for Facebook, iMessage, and notifications from multiple messaging services.

Dictation is a new feature built into Mountain Lion, allowing you to speak whatever you want typed, and Gatekeeper adds some much needed security for adding software to Apple computers.

Over on the mobile side of things, users of the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad will also have something to look forward to later this year with an update to their operating system.

In a few months, Apple will be releasing iOS 6, an update to Apple’s slate of mobile products designed to bring a replacement for Google’s Maps, built-in turn-by-turn navigation, support for Siri on more devices, better Facebook integration, more iCloud features, upgrades to Safari, support for FaceTime over mobile networks (currently requires WiFi), and a “Do Not Disturb” option which will mute your notifications while you sleep.

And then there’s the little things which Apple is sort of sliding under the radar, including a new smart case ($59) with that same bendy-back design and ability to switch your iPad on and off, but now wraps around your entire iPad and protects it from the elements.

The 2012 update to Apple's wireless Airport Base Station.

Apple’s wireless technology also receives a refresh, with the Airport Express Base Station ($119) now packaged into a smaller device, encased in a similarly small hockey puck form factor like Apple TV.

And if you’re still after a big computer, Apple has updated the Mac Pro line of full desktop machines, bringing the powerhouse machines up-to-date like it did with its notebooks.

The new towers can now be upgraded to support an insane 12 cores, taking advantage of two six-core processors. Up to 8TB of storage can be included and up to 64GB memory, but this won’t come cheap, with the starting price for a 12-core machine coming in at $4,599 RRP.

Strangely, Apple hasn’t updated much else on the Mac Pro, with both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 support missed out in these computers, and a question of whether Apple intends to keep these systems around in the future lingering.

With neither Thunderbolt nor USB 3.0 added to the Mac Pro, is this computer on its way out?