Earlier this week, Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Computer, Inc, gave the keynote speech at Macworld Expo San Francisco.
Amongst his announcements there were updated versions of iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD, which have been bundled along with iTunes in a package called iLife. He announced new applications called Keynote, Safari, and Final Cut Express. The hardware announcements included a 17″ PowerBook, a 12″ powerBook and AirPort Extreme.
The most exciting announcement for myself that came out of the keynote was the release of Safari, a new web browser, from Apple.
Apart from the raw speed of Safari, Apple have included many additional features including;
- Google Search, built into the main menu bar for quick access to the Google Search Engine
- SnapBack, Safari’s unique feature that instantly returns the viewer to Google’s search results or the top level of a website after navigating through a series of links from a Google search results page or the original entry page of any website
- Improved Bookmarks, including the bookmark library, a powerful single-window interface similar to iTunes and iPhoto applications that makes organizing and managing bookmarks extremely familiar and convenient, plus improved renaming options, which helps the user easily and quickly rename cumbersome website names to shorter names more suitable for bookmarks
- Pop-up Blocking, an option to automatically block intrusive advertisements
- Address Book integration, which automatically incorporates all websites listed in a user’s Address Book contact database, such as personal websites, into Safari’s bookmark library
- Simplified download process, with automatic handling of disk images, file decompression, MacBinary and BinHex conversion for easy download and installation of files and applications without extra files remaining on the desktop
- KHTML rendering engine, based on the industry’s best rendering engine, KHTML, from KDE’s Konqueror open source project, to which Apple has made significant enhancements that will be contributed back to the open source community.
With typical Apple good design, they have simplified the interface of Safari’s main toolbar and kept the functionality. The number of buttons by default are reduced to “Forward” and “Back” buttons, a “Reload” or “Stop” button depending of the stage of the page loading, an “Add to Bookmarks” button, then you have the URL field, which also doubles as the progress bar indicating how the page is loading, the Google Search field is next and finally, there is a button to report “Bugs” of sites that don’t render or work correctly in Safari.
Under the main toolbar is the Bookmarks toolbar.
The bookmark options are vastly superior to any other system I have used. Apple have simplified the entire process, yet still added some nifty features, like pull down menus from the Bookmark Toolbar.
Under the Window menu of Safari is a new feature called “Activity” which will be a huge bonus to website developers in particular, but also to people interested to know what is happening while a page is loading and rendering. What Activity actually does is informs the user of the activity that is occurring, like which graphics are loading, from where they are coming from and their size. It informs you if the image or file wasn’t found.
Safari has been released as a free download and requires Mac OS X 10.2, but has been optimised for Mac OS X 10.2.3.
Currently, Safari is a “Public Beta” with the final version to be made available later this year. Since its’ release at the Keynote a few days ago, there have been over half a million copies of Safari downloaded and an update released, which Apple recommends to all Safari users, as there appears to be the potential for data loss with the initial release under some circumstances.
In less than four days, over 500,000 copies of Safari have been downloaded
Jobs announced iLife, which is an integrated suite of Apple’s major “iApps”, featuring brand new versions of iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD, and the recently-released iTunes 3.
iLife includes updated versions of iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD with tons of new features, all seamlessly integrated to allow users to easily access their digital music, photos and movies from within each application. For example, users can now select music from their iTunes library to use in their iPhoto slideshows, movies or DVD menus from directly within iPhoto 2, iMovie 3 or iDVD 3, all without interrupting the creative process by having to switch back and forth between applications.
New features of iPhoto 2 include;
One-click photo Enhance, which can dramatically improve less-than-perfect pictures
New Retouch tool for removing scratches, hair, lens dirt, etc.
- Photo archiving to a CD or DVD to preserve and share your iPhoto library
- The ability to email photos with one click using Mac OS X Mail, Eudora, Entourage and AOL.
New features of iMovie 3 include;
- Pro-quality special effects, including the new “Ken Burns” effect for adding emotionally powerful motion to still photos
- Powerful new audio editing tools and blockbuster sound effects from Skywalker Sound’s seven-time Academy Award winner Gary Rydstrom
- Pro-quality special video effects such as Aged Film, Letterbox and Earthquake
- The ability to add chapter markers to movies for DVD navigation and scene selection.
New features of iDVD 3 include;
- 24 new pro-quality, Apple-designed, customizable DVD menu themes
- Automatically created DVD scene selection menus from iMovie chapter markers
- The ability to personalize iDVD 3 themes with personal photos, music and movies using iDVD Drop Zones.
iTunes 3 is already available for download. iPhoto 2 and iMovie 3 will be made available as a free download on January 25.
iDVD will only be available for purchase as part of the iLife package, which consists of a two disk CD and DVD-ROM set. iLife will can be ordered from the Apple Store for $95 and will be shipping January 25.
The iLife package not only has iDVD 3, but also includes iTunes 3, iPhoto 2, and iMovie 3.
iLife does for our digital lifestyle what Microsoft Office did for office productivity – all the applications you need are in one box, and they all work together
Final Cut Express
Apple have released Final Cut Express, which is based on the award winning Final Cut Pro. It includes all the key features video editors need, such as the same interface and workflow as Final Cut Pro, powerful video editing tools, hundreds of special effects and easy delivery to DVD, web or tape, but it is missing some of the higher end functions.
Final Cut Express can be purchased from Apple for $595.
One of the big surprizes of the Jobs’ keynote, was in fact, a new application from Apple called Keynote, which is a presentation package similar in concept to Microsoft’s PowerPoint.
Keynote allows you to create professional presentations, with an easy to use interface and includes professionally designed themes, amazing typography, pro-quality image resizing, animated charts and tables that can be created in seconds, and cinematic-quality transitions.
Job’s has been beta testing the product for the last 12 months and in fact had been using for all his Expo keynotes during this period!
Keynote is highly compatible with other formats as imports and exports PowerPoint, QuickTime and PDF files. You can paste data from Excel spreadsheets for use with Keynote charts and tables and import AppleWorks Presentations.
Keynote is available immediately for purchase for $195.
Everyone who attended the keynote received a free copy of Keynote
Although Apple only released updated PowerBooks a couple of months a go, two new models were announced at MacWorld, including the world’s first 17″ Notebook.
While the 17-inch PowerBook is the largest PowerBook ever, it is also the thinnest Apple notebook ever and only weighs an amazing 2.9kg.
New features include Bluetooth, AirPort Extreme and FireWire 800 all built-in.
The specifications of the 17″ PowerBook include;
- 17-inch TFT Display 1440×900 resolution
- 1GHz PowerPC G4
- 1MB L3 cache
- 512MB DDR333 SDRAM
- 60GB Ultra ATA/100
- NVIDIA GeForce4 440 Go
- 64 MB DDR video memory
- Gigabit Ethernet
- FireWire 400
- FireWire 800
- AirPort Extreme built-in
- Bluetooth built-in
- DVI & S-Video out
The 17-inch PowerBook G4 includes the world’s first fiber-optic backlit keyboard, as well as ambient light sensors that control the brightness of the display and automatically regulate the keyboard backlighting. In low light, the 17-inch PowerBook G4 automatically illuminates the backlit keyboard and lowers the display brightness, reducing eye strain and extending battery life. As light levels increase, the display brightness is re-adjusted automatically and the keyboard backlighting is turned off.”
The 17″ PowerBook is expected to ship in February with a price of $6,995.
New features include Bluetooth, AirPort Extreme and FireWire 800 all built-in
Not only did Apple release the largest notebook, they also released an incredibly compact, yet powerful 12″ PowerBook.
The 12″ PowerBook includes;
- 12.1-inch TFT Display
- 1024×768 resolution
- 867MHz PowerPC G4
- 256MB DDR266 SDRAM
- 40GB Ultra ATA/100
- Combo Drive
- NVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go
- 32MB DDR video memory
- 10/100BASE-T Ethernet
- FireWire 400
- AirPort Extreme Ready
- Bluetooth built-in
- Composite & S-Video out
The 12″ PowerBook will be shipping by the end of January with a price of $3,995
AirPort Extreme, based on the new 802.11g wireless standard, operates at up to 54 Mbps – up to five times faster than current Wi-Fi technology. AirPort Extreme works with the installed base of 802.11b devices, including public Hot Spots and Wi-Fi certified 802.11b Windows solutions.
There are two models of the AirPort Extreme Base Station – One with a 56k modem and external antennae port for $499 and the other without the modem for $399. The AirPort Extreme Cards only work with AirPort Extreme compatible systems (at this stage only the two new PowerBooks) and sell for $199.
Just prior, during and just after, MacWorld Expo, Apple also had various products, which in many case where introduced without much fanfare, yet will be of interest to many people.
Burton Amp Jacket
The Burton Amp Jacket was actually the first announcement Jobs made during the keynote and while funky, I won’t be racing out to buy one just yet, with a price tag of US$499. Besides, I need the iPod first 🙂
The Burton Amp is a durable waterproof GORE-TEX snowboarding jacket made exclusively for use with Apple’s iPod. The Burton Amp and Apple’s iPod together make it effortless for snowboarders and other active users to control their music from right on the sleeve of their jacket without fumbling with zippers, gloves or pockets.
The Burton Amp Jacket is currently exclusively available from the Apple Store.
Prior to the introduction of Mac OS X, virtually the only way developers could create a graphical application in a UNIX-based operating system was with the X Window System, more commonly called X11. X11 for Mac OS X, which was quietly released just after the Macworld Expo keynote, offers UNIX users the ability to run thousands of X11 applications concurrently with other Mac OS X applications.
For those interested, a Public Beta, is available for immediate download.
In an interesting move, Apple released QuickTime 6.1 the day after the Keynote (last time they release an update the day before).
Two versions of iCal, Apple’s Scheduling application, were released just prior to the Keynote. The first was to provide support for the new iSync, while the second was released to fix a bug that affected all users in time zones +/- 10GMT, which included most of Australia (except of WA) and New Zealand.
After a Public Beta testing phase, the final release of iSync is now available. iSync allows you to syncronize your address book, appointments and to-do lists with other Macintosh computers running Mac OS X 10.2 and a .Mac account, various mobile phones and the Apple iPod.
Some images supplied courtesy of Apple Computer, Inc.
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Unless otherwise stated, all prices mentioned in this article are in Australian Dollars and include GST. Prices were correct at the time of publication.
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