Monday, August 07, 2006

MacOnMacs: Apple WWDC 2006 - Keynote Address

I couldn't let the day end without posting on this year's Worldwide Developers Conference that opened today in San Francisco with a much (as always) anticipated keynote address from the man that Business 2.0 magazine calls "easily the greatest marketer since PT Barnum" - Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Down to the meat of the announcements:
  • Mac Pro - the "fastest Mac ever" and replacement for the aging PowerMac G4/G5 towers has finally arrived. Keeping with the simplifying of Apple's product line of late, the Mac Pro is a single, but highly customizable, entry. The basic model is $2499 and sports two 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon "Woodcrest" processors, but a dual 3 GHz option (add $800) is also available giving a reported performance boost of 60-110% above the 2.5 GHz PowerMac Quad G5 model before it. Although the Mac Pro's enclosure is essentially the same as the G5's, the additional space that was needed for G5-related heat issues is now used much more effectively to provide space for up to four 500 GB 7200 rpm hard drives (up to 2 TB of potential storage space), room for a second optical drive (up to 2x SuperDrive), 3 full-length PCI Express expansion slots, up to 16 GB of RAM, and more.
  • Xserve quad Xeon 64-bit server - the last piece of the Intel puzzle was replacing the G5 Xserve, which has been done with this two Dual-Core Intel Xeon processor-powered computer running at up to 3 GHz. The next generation 10.5 Leopard Server OS for the Xserve was also previewed, and includes a Wiki server, iCal Server, Spotlight Server, and a Podcast Producer component (I'd like to find out more about that one).
But even more exciting than that, which seems somehow impossible for a Mac geek like myself, we have our first taste of what comes next in our mighty OS (watch the QuickTime movie clips at the top of these pages - great way to get familiarized quickly while also seeing interface aspects) ...
  • Leopard Mac OS X 10.5 preview - as much as I've been waiting for the Mac towers to finally go Intel, I find myself very impressed with where the next generation of the Mac OS X is going:
    • Time Machine: Windows does have something similar, but this back-up and system recovery solution is implemented stylishly and effectively. A quantum leap from Backup, this may be the application that makes it easy enough for the general public to backup their computers regularly without the stress and hassle we've come to expect of such things.
    • Spaces - a beautiful virtual desktop implementation that allows a single user to separate their desktop into multiple "spaces" while providing easy drag and drop functionality for windows, along with quick access to applications in any "space". I've used one of these since my SGI days at Mainframe, and I'm happy to see it now standard in the Mac OS as well.
    • iChat: iChat has just become a truly worthwhile app for me. There are some frills added like video backgrounds and PhotoBooth-like effects, along with other more functional additions such as tabbed chatting for multiple .Mac, AOL, IM, and Jabber accounts. But the two ground-breaking things here are iChat Screen Sharing, which allows you and a friend to both take control of one of your desktops (which is shown on both computers) so that you can both collaborate on projects while hearing each others voices via an audio chat, AND iChat Theater, a virtual presentation room which allows you to make presentations via iChat of Keynote slides, photos from iPhoto, or content from any iChat-enabled application, accompanied by a video/audio feed of you "playing host". This is the kind of stuff that helps answer the question of "why would someone use iChat" - I'll for sure end up employing both iChat Screen Sharing and iChat Theatre in my work, and as far as I can see I can't think of another "chat" application that combines such practical elements to such good effect. Good work iChat team!
    • Mail: Mail just keeps getting better, and although the incorporating of elegant HTML templates to the email writing process is well-done, I think I'm most excited about the addition of Notes and To Dos (which are incorporated as a core Mac OS service) to the mix here. RSS via email is another perk.
    • Spotlight - finally we will be able to Spotlight search across Multiple network volumes and other Macs. Quick Look technology will also allow you to see previews (e.g. watching a QuickTime movie, seeing an Address Book contact, viewing a PDF, etc.) of documents in the preview graphic overlay without even opening an application. Plus, Boolean searching has been added. All solid evolutionary changes that might make Spotlight a little more highly regarded in my book.
    • Dashboard - I have to confess, I'm not a Dashboard user. I'm not sure these changes will make me become one but they seem sort of cool :-) . First off, Web Clip lets you visit a site in Safari and click the "“Open in Dashboard"” button to make a continuously-refreshed widget of that webpage or part of that webpage (it's crop-able). Secondly, Dashboard will sync across multiple computers through .Mac now. And, thirdly, although this news has been around for a bit, Dashcode will let anyone build their own widgets.
    • Other: iCal will support calendar sharing and some other features through the CalDAV standard; Alex, Mac OS X's newest voice synthesis is sounding remarkably human (take a listen on the page); Core Animation aids developers in the production of sophisticated visual effects; and, with Leopard, OS X is truly a 64-bit OS.

All very cool stuff. Mac Pros and Xserves are out now, Leopard (with some other surprises - funny keynote moment alludes to the fact that Longhorn has copied enough OS X things for now) will be out in Spring 2007. I, for one, can't wait.
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8/07/2006 07:28:00 p.m.  


Anonymous John said...

Jeff… there is always like one feature that gets me hook, line and/or sinker when they release the new versions of OSX. And it's true of (Def) Leopard too. Man spaces and the time machine are neck in neck right now, fighting for my adoration.

Spring cannot come soon enough!

August 08, 2006 7:55 a.m.  
Anonymous John said...

p.s. Bear is great!
(saw him in Amber's pics)

August 08, 2006 7:59 a.m.  
Blogger Jeff MacArthur said...

Hey John

Yeah, the two new components (spaces and time machine) are great additions. And I'm sure there will be some other surprises before Leopard is out in the spring.

(I'll have to see what Bear pics Amber put up now! :-) )

Thanks for reading,


August 08, 2006 8:30 a.m.  
Anonymous Virtunate said...

I was wondering Jeff, as a video editor, will you be buying a Mac Pro anytime soon?

August 08, 2006 9:20 a.m.  
Blogger Jeff MacArthur said...

I will be buying a new Mac Pro the moment I figure out what configuration would be best for me, Virtunate. It's a fantastic computer and great for those of us who waited through the G5s to buy a new Intel machine. I started adding on features to the new Mac Pro and got up to $6K or something, so I think I'll have to be a little more choosy when I finally have to find the dough to get one :-) .


August 08, 2006 11:46 a.m.  
Anonymous Robert said...

I think you hit, it right on the money, with the Time Machine, I think everytime I go back to that spot, just reminds me how much Apple cares in making there product for the everyday user, and the tech user, just not for business alone

August 08, 2006 6:02 p.m.  

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