Apple updates: iLife '11, FaceTime on the Mac, Mac OS X Lion, Mac App Store, new MacBook Air models
In case you'd forgotten that the company once known as Apple Computer, Inc., still makes computers, Apple executives spent an hour and a half today introducing a lineup of new Mac hardware and software.
But as you might expect from a firm that may now be best known for its iPhone, many of these new releases owe a great deal to its mobile devices.
Start with the last products it introduced, two new versions of its MacBook Air ultralight laptop. Chief executive Steve Jobs invited an audience at its Cupertino, Calif., campus (and Apple users watching over a Web video feed) to imagine their origin: "What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?"
The result is a a pair of laptops no thicker than .68 inches, almost as thin as some smartphones. They use flash memory for storage instead of mechanical hard drives, the standard on the prior Air that Apple had last updated in October of 2008.
Jobs said the two new Airs--a 2.3-lb. model with an 11.6-in. screen, starting at $999 with 64 gigabytes of flash storage, and a 2.9-lb. version with a 13.3-in. screen, priced at $1,299 and up--can stay asleep in standby mode for 30 days, with active battery life of five to seven hours.
The iPhone and the iPad's influence also surfaced in updates to Mac OS X.
Jobs demonstrated a Mac version of the iPhone and the iPod touch's FaceTime video-conferencing software, now available in beta form at Apple's site for computers running the current Snow Leopard release of OS X.
The next version of OS X, Lion, not due until next summer, will lean much more heavily on the iPhone and the iPad's iOS software. It will add a Mac App Store--which Jobs said will also emerge for Snow Leopard within 90 days.
The Mac App Store, unlike the version on Apple's mobile devices, won't be the only way for developers to offer software to users. It should offer simpler installation than even OS X (where all you normally have to do is drag a program's icon to the application folder) and may make it easier for smaller software shops to reach customers (in return for Apple taking its usual 30 percent cut of the proceeds).
Jobs' mention that developers can begin submitting programs to the Mac App Store by next month made it clear that this, like the iPhone's App Store, will be a curated environment, subject to Apple's sole control.
(Note that while an app store might seem redundant in the safe, simple, Mac operating system, a catalog of certified-secure programs with automatic installs and updates might be far more appealing on a competing platform: Windows.)
Lion will also show a family resemblance to iOS in its support for multi-touch gestures, as expressed in touchpads on laptops and in mice instead of through screens. Jobs explained why touchscreens don't work in regular computers: "After an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off." Lion will also offer full-screen modes for applications that work better with a user's undivided attention.
One of them led off Apple's demo: iPhoto '11, the flagship product of its just-updated iLife '11 multimedia-creativity suite, available today for free on new Macs and $49 for everyone else.
The updated iPhoto is even more of a social animal than the 2009 edition. Now, after uploading photos to social-media sites like Facebook and Flickr, you can see what reaction they've met from friends without leaving iPhoto. New slideshow, photo-book and letterpress cards aim to give people more excuses to spend time sorting through vacation or baby pictures.
Apple representatives also demonstrated--at considerable length--the 2011 versions of iLife's iMovie video editor and Garage Band music-recording program. But while such iMovie '11 audio and video-tweaking features as a "Movie Trailer" option looked impressive and seemed somewhat approachable, even easy video editing is time-consuming work. Garage Band, meanwhile, remains less-than-relevant for the silent majority of users who only play music through headphones or speakers, not their own instruments.
Apple's event led off with a recitation of numbers touting the continued growth and relevance of Apple's Mac business. Chief operating officer Tim Cook said that the Mac amounted to a third of Apple's revenue in its last fiscal year, or about $22 billion. Cook followed up by touting the consistent growth of Mac market share, once a topic the company preferred to avoid. It's now up to 20.7 percent of the U.S. consumer market, he said, citing NPD research.
That's yet another way the iPhone folks bear little resemblance to the operation once routinely described as "beleaguered Apple Computer, Inc."
| October 20, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories: Computers, Mac, Music, Pictures, Video
Save & Share: Previous: Apple to get a new iLife, MacBook Air and... one other thing
Next: More thoughts on junking Java
Posted by: password11 | October 20, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Blurred | October 20, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: unreal3 | October 20, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Blurred | October 20, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jtsw | October 20, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ClarkKent1 | October 20, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mason08 | October 20, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: smit8873 | October 20, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: eGREGie | October 20, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: patrickgama7 | October 20, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Blurred | October 20, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Skeptic1 | October 20, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: shadow27 | October 20, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AppDev | October 20, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: query0 | October 21, 2010 5:40 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: baltomoreon | October 21, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bikes-everywhere | October 21, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: georgethorntonii | October 21, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sullyville | October 21, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: howardstuff | October 21, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse