Today was Apple’s “Back to the Mac” event, in which Steve Jobs announced iLife ‘11, previewed Mac OSX 10.7 (Lion), and debuted the new MacBook Airs. For the second straight Apple event, the company streamed video of the event to Apple devices, so I was able to listen in while I worked. Here’s my take on the announcements.iLife ‘11
iLife is a suite that I was envious of before I owned a Mac, and never use now that I have one. That said, it’s an excellent suite for amateur and aspiring content creators. What’s the big, new feature of ‘11? Full screen support. Seriously, that’s a noteworthy feature? Like is often the case, Apple has added support for something they should have had all along, exists in countless other programs, and was likely a trivial addition and they frame it as the most revolutionary feature to ever hit a computer screen. With that cynical note aside, the improved social aspects, including Facebook and HTML emails, a redesigned photobook designer, and letterpress cards see like nice, incremental upgrades to the iPhoto product. New GarageBand features include ways to fix the timing and groove of tracks to make the songs sound better and enhancements to the lessons feature, which had languished, in my opinion. Again, these are incremental, but nice, updates.
The final iLife application, iMovie, that’s right, iWeb appears to be gone, does actually appear to be a fairly significant upgrade to the current offering. The demo showed of the ability to add an impressive array of movie effects very easily. Two effects from the demo are freeze-frame highlight and instant replay, both of which appear quite easy to insert. They’ve also added the ability to easily edit the sound track of a movie, balancing out audio that’s too low or high for the scene. The people finder feature takes the face detection from iPhoto and adds it to your video library, which is very useful in my favorite new feature, movie trailers. Apple has created several movie trailer templates and made it super easy to build very high-quality trailers. They even contract a professional symphony to record the soundtracks. This feature just looks fun!OSX Lion
After lackluster response to Snow Leopard, which even Apple admits was only a minor upgrade to Leopard, Apple is moving quickly to bring Lion to a Mac near you. Steve billed the next OS version as bringing the things they’ve learned from their mobile devices back to the Mac platform. I’ll admit to an instant feeling of dread as he started listing the coming features, but it does appear that they are doing this right. Starting off with the most underwhelming feature, full-screen apps (yeah, everything’s an app now to Apple). To restate my earlier comment, how is this a feature that’s worth mentioning?
Since I’ve already alluded to it, I suppose the next announcement worth discussing is the Mac App Store. Ok, the prospect of this terrified me at first, but the demonstration has actually sold me on the idea. Quick aside, didn’t Steve say earlier this year that there would not be a Mac App Store? The onerous terms of the iPhone app store have been under sharp criticism since the first apps began getting rejected not long after the store opened, so the notion of such a store on the Mac should be a scary one. It does appear that the store will not prevent Mac users from getting their software elsewhere, unlike an iPhone, so I don’t have a real problem with this new app store. This store has the potential to improve discoverability of Mac applications, which is a plus for both the developer and user. In addition, it fixes what I consider one of OSX’s worst features. Application installation stinks on Mac! There’s not one way to install applications, there’s at least two (now three). I understand that dragging an app into and out of the applications folder is simple on the surface, but the fact that most apps come in disk images that must be mounted and unmounted adds too much complexity to the process. What’s worse is that some apps use a windows-like wizard instead. Even Apple applications install in different ways depending on the app! Having an app store makes installation, updating, and removal off applications so much simpler. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the new App Store is a great new feature! I will be adding it to my Snow Leopard box when it comes out in the next 90 days for sure.
The final few features they mentioned are a way to create icon pages, much like an iPhone or iPad. I’m neutral on this. I guess it’s a good feature, but it doesn’t really excite me. Expose’ has been expanded into Mission Control, where you can survey running apps and dashboard widgets. This doesn’t feel like something that needs a big new name or announcement (shocking for Apple, I know), but it’s a pretty good feature.
Update: Did anyone else notice that the person demonstrating the Mission Control feature had to try the gesture several times before it worked? I think that’s a strong statement about desktop gestures and the new apple mouse.New MacBook Airs
Well, the rumors were right, there’s 2 new MacBook Airs in the line-up. The first is a 13.3” that’s lighter, thinner, and more powerful than the previous model. It also has a higher resolution screen and significantly improved battery life. There’s also an 11.6” little-brother, with most of the same features, but which is slightly lighter and has less battery life. Apple has opted to go totally solid-state with these models in order to save space, power, and noise. They also bill these as instant-on, like an iPad, but I’m skeptical of how instant they will actually be from a cold boot (something that’s almost never done with a Mac anyway). Starting at $999, these are at just the right price-point in my mind. The old Air was very much a luxury device, but this one is very compelling. It may very well be a game changer.
So, what’s your take on the 10/20/10 Apple announcements?
Thanks for the link, I’ll check this out. I started the process of breaking a CMS I wrote into a series of engine gems that I can reuse, but got too busy to see it through. I’m looking forward to reading your experiences.
I use tail all the time to watch jobs as they run, but it’s not a pager, so once the output goes by, it’s gone. Did you know that less can mimic tail? Next time you need to tail a log, open it with less, then type ‘F’. This will jump to the bottom and act like tail. When you want to scroll back up, press ctrl-c to stop the following, use less as you normally would, then press ‘F’ to begin tailing again. There you have it, a pageable tail.