Apple announced their long-rumored ultraportable today, in the form of the MacBook Air, a machine that is described more by its physical specs than by its technical specs (both of which I won't repeat because they're are available elsewhere). Here are my thoughts:
My first impression was that the machine is damn sexy and I'd like to have one. That said, it is completely impractical for me. I don't travel nearly enough to justify the trade-offs that portability brings. I probably wouldn't spend my hard-earned dollars on it, but if I came across $2000 in Atlantic City one weekend, then perhaps I'd pick one up.
$1000 for the 64 GB solid state disk drive is both ludicrous (that it would cost so much to begin with) and reasonable (that it's actually a fair value for it) at the same time. It's definitely an early-adopter only option now, especially given that it costs almost as much as a new MacBook, but I'm glad Apple is at least giving buyers the option.
People will bitch about the non-user-replaceable battery this like they did when the iPhone came out. I think it'll turn out to not be as big a dealbreaker as it was made out to be and those who were going to buy one will and those who weren't won't.
Some of the new multi-touch gestures on the trackpad seem too gimmicky, although I thought the same thing about two-finger scroll and now I wonder how I lived without it. Three-finger back/forward could be useful but pinching to zoom and rotate seem very limited.
Verdict: Great machine. Not for me (yet, at least).
Note: I shamelessly stole the title and source of this post from one of John Siracusa's tweets.
Neil Pomerleau does a great job of predicting the MWSF 08 keynote that takes place a week from this Tuesday. Instead of a bulleted list of predictions, he wrote what Steve will say and how he'll probably say it, complete with photos from the event. His predictions are pretty sound, and while I'm not entirely convinced we'll see a subnotebook or tablet, the level and credibility of the rumor is at about the same as iPhone rumors were last year the weeks prior to the keynote. That said, if I had to choose, I'd pick the subnotebook. The iPhone's largest criticisms are the lack of 3G and the on-screen keyboard. People were getting along well enough before full QWERTY keyboards appeared on cell phones. I don't think Apple would offer a no-keyboard computer as it's subnotebook solution (i.e., the long-awaited 12" PowerBook replacement).
A 12" notebook that's under an inch thick with a solid state drive sounds very reasonable, but I'm pretty sure it will have a keyboard. There's simply no software support: desktop OS X is meant for pixel-precision, meaning our fat fingers would be hitting multiple targets on the screen; iPhone OS X seems too limiting to justify a most-likely >$1500 purchase; and a new in-between OS X would begin with zero software support and further fragment Apple's and third-party developers' efforts.
A new version of Twitterrific, the popular Twitter client for Mac OS X, was released today. The changelog details new features and improvements.
The most glaring change, however, has to be the monetization scheme: either you pay $15 for it or you get an ad in your tweet list every hour. If there ever was a desktop application that could function as well on an ad-supported model as websites can, Twitterrific is it. The ads fit in so seamlessly and they're so not bothersome that it feels like Iconfactory could have gotten away with more ads. But I'll stop before I give them any more ideas.
Apple released today their Rev. B Intel iMacs featuring the mobile Core 2 Duo processors. A 24" model was added to the lineup.
The new iMacs start at $999 for a very stripped version of the previous-generation 17" iMac. This iMac more closely resembles the education-only iMac as it lacks a Superdrive, discrete graphics, Bluetooth and Remote. The next model up is an $1199 17" model that is at a similar price point to the previous base model. The processor on this model gets bumped to a 2GHz Core 2 Duo with 4MB of L2 cache, comes with 1GB of RAM and the price drops $100. The 20" iMac gets a $200 discount, a 4MB/2.16GHz processor.
Added to the lineup is the $1999 24" iMac. The specs are similar to the 20" iMac except that the video card has been replaced with an NVidia 7300GT with 128MB of RAM. The 24" iMac also gives up a FireWire 400 port in exchange for a FireWire 800 port.
BTO options are abundant, with almost every part of the iMacs being customizable. The $1199 17" model can get a 2.16GHz processor as an upgrade for $100, while the bigger models can go to a 2.33GHz processor for $250. The video RAM can be doubled to 256MB on the 20" and the 24" can take a 7600GT with 256MB RAM for $125 extra.
In slightly less exciting news, the Mac minis have been bumped to 1.66/1.83 Core Duo processors. There is an special Apple event next Tuesday where the company is expected to announce the availability of full-length movies on the iTunes Music Store.
Apple has updated Boot Camp, their software application that enables Windows to boot on Intel-based Macs, to beta version 1.1.
The update is recommended for all previous and new Boot Camp installations. The new beta includes:
* Support for the latest Intel-based Macintosh computers
* Easier partitioning using presets for popular sizes
* Ability to install Windows XP on any internal disk
* iSight camera support
* Support for built-in microphones
* Right-click when pressing the right-hand Apple key on Apple keyboards
* Improved Apple keyboard support including Delete, PrintScreen, NumLock, and ScrollLock keys
We get an iSight driver update, so no more Blue Screen when opening it up in My Computer. We also get a keyboard driver update that adds support for several keys and the ability to right-click with the right Apple key, though it's hard to tell whether this is just duplicating the contextual menu key available on most Windows keyboards or if this simulates control-click in OS X.
Should we expect an announcement on August 24 so huge that we'll want to fly to the 5th Avenue Apple Store to buy it? Remember Steve's Spotlight demo where he searched for iMac, Paris and anniversary at WWDC 04 (and the iMac G5 was introduced at Apple Expo in Paris)? It could be something, but this is so vague it probably means nothing.
What's that Airport/RSS-like icon doing next to Oliver Butcher? Conversation histories by RSS? Or maybe something as lame as Bonjour buddies and regular buddies on the same buddy list?
Apple announced the Intel-based PowerMac replacement today, the Mac Pro. The case is the same as the old PowerMacs, so the entrance banner I posted a few days ago was actually displaying the Mac Pro. Now that the space-heater G5s are gone there's a lot more room inside the case for expansion. The Mac Pro features four SATA drive bays, 8 RAM slots, 4 PCI-Express slots (one being double-wide), room for two optical drives and even two Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Something different for Apple is the fact that all the machines are Built-to-Order. You start out with the pretty hefty base config of Dual 2.66GHz dual-core Woodcrest Xeons, 1GB RAM, a 256 MB GeFore 7300GT, a 250GB hard drive, and "only" one SuperDrive. From there, the only downgrades available are Dual 2GHz Xeons and a 160GB hard drive for $2,124 ($2,029 edu). A fully loaded Mac Pro, with Dual 3GHz Xeons, 16GB RAM, 4×500GB hard drives, Quadro FX4500 512MB, 2×30" displays, and 2xSuperDrives goes for $17,134 ($15,246 edu). The max config (with OS X Server licenses, Apple Modem, etc) is $18,481 ($16,137 edu). New XServes based with similar configs were also announced.
Whereas the PowerMacs were a reasonable option for any "prosumer" (ugh, hate that word) Mac user wanting a decent, upgradable Mac, these Mac Pros are just overkill. There's an $800 difference between the high-end iMac and the low-end Mac Pro, and a $1,700 difference between the high-end Mac mini and the low-end Mac Pro (not to mention the HUGE performance gap). So will we be seeing a headless mid-range Conroe-based Mac anytime soon? I would surely hope so.
With the Jobs keynote and Leopard preview a few hours away, here are three things I hope Apple fixes in the next iteration of the Finder:
Remember my settings. The Finder is notoriously bad about remembering my window settings. Every time I restart my computer, the Finder opens up two windows, but they aren't how I left them! The column sizes, sidebar size and window size are all wrong. It takes a few seconds to fix each time, but it's annoying nonetheless.
Cut. There's been a few times when I thought I'd copied data from one folder to another same-named folder on a different drive and deleted the "source" but I was really looking at the same folder in two windows. Now, I'll admit I'm a little too "Empty Trash" trigger happy, but would it really kill Apple to add a Cut command? The main argument I've heard against this is that a file can be effectively deleted by a simple cut/copy operation elsewhere (e.g., some text). The counter to this is to either make a seperate file clipboard or to replace the cut file once anything else is put on the clipboard. Safe and fun, what more could you ask for?
A real Spotlight window.I rarely use Spotlight because I don't like to wait for results to appear in the Spotlight menu. So when I really do want to find something, I'll call up the "More results" item and have a search results window pop up. I like to let this run in the background while I continue what I was doing, but finding the window again is a real chore since it doesn't show up when "window cycling" (Cmd+`) in the Finder (I don't remember off the top of my head if it shows up in Expose or not). So now I have to go through the trouble of moving everything around just to find the window and then put everything back the way it was. This is a pain. Please Apple fix it.
So there you have it. My three FTFF (Fix The F**king Finder) wishes. These aren't things that will show up on the Leopard feature list, but I think fixing these small rough edges would be steps in the right direction to fixing the Finder.
Rumors are running rampant in the hours leading up to Steve Jobs' Worldwide Developers' Conference keynote. The image I posted on Flickr last week got mentioned in places, but only to show how overzealous Apple fans can get. It was pretty clear to me that nothing new would be shown on such a prominent banner, I just wanted to tag it so others could see the same. In any event, two pictures of Leopard banners from inside the Moscone Center have popped up; one reads "Introducting Vista 2.0" and the other reads "Hasta la Vista, Vista".
No live video feed is available, but MacRumors (among others, I'm sure) will be providing live coverage from their MacRumors Live website. The keynote starts at 1PM EST/10AM PST.