Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Analysis of Apple's new software and hardware announcements



FM tuner for iPods new!
Finally! Now I might buy an iPod. If I can't listen to NPR on it, I don't want to spend $200 bucks or more for a music player. This new little gadget will retail for only $49, but as of this writing it hasn't appeared on the online Apple Store yet. Edit: I lied; here it is. It just wasn't included on the iPod Accessories page (!).

OS X 10.4.4 upgrade
Includes a bunch of new Dashboard widgets, but I'm not sure what else. Run Software Update now and you should get it.

iLife '06 upgrade ($79)
I am soooo going to buy this upgrade for me and Velma. Here's a run-down of five of the six included apps (no iTunes upgrade this time)...

iPhoto upgrade
Faster, support for 250,000 photos, integration with other iApps, fullscreen editing and comparison mode, Effects Panel for color correcting (similar to Photoshop's Auto Adjustments), improved quality for Photo Books, new photo calendars and cards with the extremely high quality Apple template styles, Photocasting (essentially an RSS-based photoblog).

iMovie upgrade
Animated themes, multiple open projects, automatically export to your iPod or to a video podcast.

iDVD upgrade
Widescreen menus, support for third part DVD burners, tighter integration with iMovie and iPhoto through the new iLife media browser.

Garage Band upgrade
New Podcast Studio which will simplify the process of recording and adding effects (audio and video) to podcasts, lots of new effects, integration with iChat, and tons of new free sounds.

iWeb new!
Fantastic Apple templates and effects (image masking, cropping, rotating, reflections, etc.), ability to create and share photo albums, blogs, and podcasts, integration with .Mac for one-click publishing (unclear how easy it'll be to publish to other servers), drag-and-drop playlist integration with the iTunes Music Store, automatic RSS feeds, and even a photo viewer that uses AJAX! It's pretty friggin' slick.

.Mac upgrade
.Mac has been updated, mostly to run iWeb and the other aforementioned new features.

iWork minor upgrade
3D charts, better image editing, table calculations, new themes.

Dual-processor iMac new!
Intel's inside! (No, the "Intel Inside" sticker doesn't seem to appear anywhere on the new Macs. Thank bog.) The iMac G5 just came out, to rave reviews. Now we have the next generation iMac, with Intel's Core Duo chip, purportedly 2–3 times faster than the G5. Same design as the G5 iMac with Front Row, built-in iSight, single form-factor, new remote control, etc.



Dual-processor MacBook Pro brand friggin' new!
The new Intel-based MacBook Pro is purportedly nearly 4 times faster than my Powerbook G4. I am instantly jealous. From a branding perspective, it was interesting but understandable that they have departed not only from the PowerPC chip but with the PowerBook name. However, I think the name MacBook Pro is a little weak, but whatever, they finally got the word Mac in the name of the product, which was always a strange omission. So what else? Brighter display, new built-in iSight camera, Front Row, IR sensor and Apple remote control, larger trackpad, Sudden Motion Sensor which parks the hard drive if there's a sudden change in orientation (like getting knocked off a table), DVI out, backlit keyboard, larger HDs and graphics chips, new industry standard ExpressCard Slot instead of PCI slot, and they finally fixed various issues with the shoddy power cable connector with the new MagSafe, a magnetic cable connection to the Book. Ships in February.

Apple Universal and Rosetta
All of Apple's OS X applications, including iLife, iWork, Safari, Address Book, etc., run natively on both PowerPC and Intel chips using Apple's Universal technology. Additionally, the new Intel machines ship with Rosetta, allowing PowerPC applications to run on the Intel machines. Hmm. Carbon anyone? Jobs announced that the entire hardware line will be transitioned to Intel ships by the end of 2006. He premiered the first TV spot, and I was not at all surprised that it uses a Moby song as the background.

Watch Steve's keynote
If you want to see the whole show (it's long but worth it), including premieres of the new iPod and Intel commercials, check it out here [QuickTime].

What's missing?
A couple things I expected to see were an Intel-based MacMini (I guess they need something for next spring, right?), and an upgrade to Front Row, which still seems like an early 1.0 product to me.

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