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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?"

macbook_air_2010.jpg

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).

ilife11_box.jpg

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."

By Rob Pegoraro  | October 20, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Computers, Mac, Music, Pictures, Video  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Apple to get a new iLife, MacBook Air and... one other thing
Next: More thoughts on junking Java

Comments

Buy, lemmings, buy!

Posted by: password11 | October 20, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

password is funny.

Mac makes up what? 3% of the personal computer market?

And you call the mac users lemmings.

This is all you need to know about mac v. pc

If you buy a new camera, it comes with a disc of software to plug in to your pc and 8 pages of instructions. It then says "for mac users, plug in camera."

Lots of us are not super sophisticated when it comes to tech. Mac makes it easy.

Posted by: Blurred | October 20, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I will not purchase any Apple products ever. Any company that purposely baits consumers into buying a product only to update it to a better model 6 months later is no good.

Posted by: unreal3 | October 20, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

really, unreal?

Constantly offering new features and fixes that don't make the past versions obsolete is a bad thing?

As opposed to MS that puts out a new version filled with problems every 3-7 years?

I think you have it backward. You can always get the most up to date, easy to use, bug fixed software from mac and it works on most any hardware purchased in the past 8 years. Meanwhile, MS makes you live with a funky software that is out of date and messes up your files when you upgrade.

I use a pC at work and a mac at home and would choose my mac 10 times out of 10.

My home mac is 8 years old and still runs perfectly. It was 3 years ahead of the pcs at the time. I upgraded the hardware and software 2 years ago for less than 1/6th of the cost of a new one and got great, helpful service to boot.

Posted by: Blurred | October 20, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

That's okay password11, unreal3, and Blurred, we don't need you here. I'll continue to be happy using my Macintosh while you prod along on your PC. But I ask you, why use inferior products when you can have the best. And I am thankful that Apple only has a small part of the market. There are a lot more cheap cars on the road also, but a few of the people get to have the best.

Posted by: jtsw | October 20, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Rob, it's strange that your only comment about the new GarageBand is "...remains less-than-relevant for the silent majority of users who only play music through headphones or speakers, not their own instruments." Well, yes, in exactly the same sense that Excel is irrelevant to people who don't do spreadsheets, or that tech blogs are irrelevant to people who don't read them. If you just devote one sentence to reviewing it, why not include some content/info?

Posted by: ClarkKent1 | October 20, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Unreal:
1. Go to http://www.google.com/
2. Type in "When should i buy a mac?"
2a. If available, press the "Google Search" button.
3. Click the first link that comes up.

Posted by: mason08 | October 20, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I will never buy an Apple product. Did any of you see the prices for the MacBook Air?? $1000 for a tiny netbook with a 64 gig drive. Go to Newegg and you can find hundreds of netbooks for less than half the price, faster, and with much more features. People who buy Apple products are doing so for two reasons, 1. they are completely incompetent at using a computer, and 2. They buy it for the NAME.

Also, Linux user (Fedora) here, so don't go and say that I'm a Microsoft Troll.

Posted by: smit8873 | October 20, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I bought a Mac plugged it in and left it on for three years. Blew the tube, transfered my data to a new one and that has been on for three years. No viruses, no headaches, no standing in line at some discount computer store with thousands of creepy people who look like identity theives returning items they used (and copied), and no problems with the Mac. SO please keep buying PCs; we don't want you.

Posted by: eGREGie | October 20, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

smit8873 - I echo your comments, only in nicer terms.

BTW, no word on the update to the iPad OS update? It would be nice to listen to music while I piddle around on it.

Posted by: patrickgama7 | October 20, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

jtsw - can you read? I said I would choose a mac 10 times out of 10.

Smit - you may be correct that most mac users buy macs because they are incompetent with pcs. thats the point. I have 3 degrees already, why should I have to get another one just to use a laptop? Mac makes it easy.

Maybe if I was a tech guru, I would choose linux or ms or whatever, but I am not. I run an 8 year old mac that stays on almost constantly and has never given me a day of problems.

yes, netbooks are way cheaper, but there is a reason for that. Wheere will they be in 3 years? clogging up the dump. It's like buying gloves.

I can get a $12 pair at Walmart and they won't fit right and may not last through the season, or I can spend $120 to buy a pair of coach or other high end gloves and have them fit and look good for over 20 years (true story).

Which is the better deal?

Posted by: Blurred | October 20, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

"If you buy a new camera, it comes with a disc of software to plug in to your pc and 8 pages of instructions. It then says "for mac users, plug in camera."

This may have been true 10 years ago, but today, with the last two versions of windows, that is no longer true.

Macs are nice machines. I would pay money for them. But I don't delude myself that the entire paradigm is superior. Its a different platform. If that makes you feel like you made a superior choice, then you should buy two.

Posted by: Skeptic1 | October 20, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

If you're not going to buy a mac and you hate macs why are you posting in an article about new macs?

Oh because you're self important nerds. Go back to the Androids Dungeon. And yes I bet you get that reference.

Posted by: shadow27 | October 20, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

At 2.3 pounds with a metal frame, for $1,000, Apple has a significant advance in the mini-notebook computer, which has settled on the 11.6-inch display as a good compromise between function and portability. Mr. Pegoraro should mention that Apple's display is 1366x768 pixels, providing the HD-video 16:9 aspect ratio. It remains to be seen whether the mini-notebook market will endorse the small flash disk storage that is a distinguishing feature of Apple's hardware.

Acer offered functionally similar Windows mini-notebooks at this time last year, the 3.1 pound 1410-2285 and similar plastic frame units at only $400. However, those units, with 160GB or 250GB hard drives, are no longer available. By early spring Acer had run through its closeout purchase of Intel Penryn-series processors. Acer's follow-on units, such as the 1810T-8638 at $550 to $600, were moving more slowly. Acer had trouble implementing with the next-generation processors, just recently shipping the 1830T-3927 at $600.

HP chose to skirt the 11.6-inch mini-notebook market and is offering full notebook units with 12.1-inch and 13.3-inch displays at prices similar to the larger Apple Air. Current technology supports no more than Apple's 64 GB of storage, when most mini-notebook hard drives are now providing five times that storage at 320 GB. If the market agrees with Apple, manufacturers of Windows machines will soon offer similar configurations.

Posted by: AppDev | October 20, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I am heartened to learn 20% of computer market share in the U.S. is now Macs. We've come a long way, baby!

http://www.loopinsight.com/2010/10/20/study-mac-claims-20-percent-us-consumer-market-share/

If I were to buy a new Mac it would be a WANT, not a NEED. Both my MacBook Pro and my second-generation MacBook Air are fully functional. So, I will try to resist temptation until next summer at least.

Posted by: query0 | October 21, 2010 5:40 AM | Report abuse

In 1988 I bought two performa macs to use in my firm for word processing. I am still using one of them today, and I can take documents from my 22 year old computer and put them on my mac that I bought two months ago modify and print them. Can any of the pc people out there make that claim? I am also not tech savvy whatsoever, I am the type of customer that Apple has always catered to; the person who was willing to trade a little extra cash for a lot better engineering and a lot less headache. The people who complain about mac are usually the group that are losing business because neanderthals like me are able to stay current in the digital age without throwing the pocket protector crowd any money.

Posted by: baltomoreon | October 21, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

If anyone of you have heard 'um, when you get a second, can you come look at my computer' at the office (shudder) you must agree with me that some people are much better off using Apple products.

(Actually, some people are better off not using anything that is marginally complex, but we're kind of stuck with that problem.)

Yes, the Apple products are not fail-safe, cutting-edge (hardware), or economical (price tags), but they allow a certain class of people to function in the workplace without requiring the company to spend 20 percent of its budget on IT.

Posted by: bikes-everywhere | October 21, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

HATE APPLE, HATE IPHONES, HATE ITUNES, HATE IPADS, HATE STEVE...

Love my Mac!

Posted by: georgethorntonii | October 21, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The enhancements to the Apple hardware and software seem decent. I have already ordered iLife 11 - so I guess I was sold by Steve. They just work so well and do such fun things that I can't resist.

On the tired topic of Mac vs. PC: I use both Macs and Windows-based machines (Windows mainly for testing purposes when developing software and web sites), but I much prefer a Mac over the PC. That's not because I'm technically inept (as some seem to suggest about Mac users) - I know my way around computers decently. I just hate wasting time because of poor design, engineering and/or viruses, etc. I don't want to spend my time geeking to make a computer work. I just want it to be a tool that works. It's a paint brush, a musical instrument. I don't want to spend time trying to get bristles back into the brush - I just wanna paint. I'm a guitarist too, and while I do change strings on my guitar so it sounds better, I don't enjoy that - I just wanna play. That's what the Mac does for me. It allows me to create and play instead of geek and work. That's true most of the time. It's still a bleeping computer after all. And a lot of this comes down to what you are doing with the computer and what you are used to.

Posted by: Sullyville | October 21, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

The way Apple sets such short dates to be eligible for a free upgrade (iLife) is amazing; bought a Macbook on 9/15 and it's not eligible for the free (or 6.99) iLife update? Come on now!

Posted by: howardstuff | October 21, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

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