Apple turned its focus away from mobile devices to the Mac at its “Back to the Mac” event in California on Wednesday, unveiling several new products for desktop and laptop computer users. It also boasted of the Mac brand’s market successes in recent financial quarters.
Here are all the big announcements from yesterday’s event.
The New MacBook Air
The new MacBook Air isn’t that closely related to its predecessor; it’s just as cheap as Apple’s existing MacBook line, but it exchanges processing power for thinness. Think of it as an iPad with a keyboard.
The lineup will be expanded to feature an 11.6-inch entry model and a more substantial 13.3-inch model. Pricing for the 13.3-inch model will start at $1,299, compared to just $999 for the 11.6-inch MacBook Air.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs was quick to point out that the new MacBook Air is a logical step beyond the iPad. Gone is the clunky button found at the base of previous MacBook Air models. The new versions now feature the same smooth, clickable trackpads available on every other MacBook and MacBook Pro.
The trackpads are capable of enhanced multitouch functionality similar to that found on the iPad. That said, the MacBook Air is substantially more powerful than any iOS device.
MacBook Air Standard Features
Both models will include:
- Intel Core 2 Duo CPU
- Nvidia GeForce 320m GPU
- Solid state storage
- 2GB DDR3 memory (expandable to 4GB)
- Instant-on capabilities
- FaceTime Camera (formerly iSight)
- 802.11n Wi-Fi
- Up to 30 days of standby battery life
11.6-inch MacBook Air
Its display is capable of a 1336 x 768 resolution and it has a battery that will last for five hours. This model comes with either a 64GB hard drive for $999 or a 128GB hard drive for $1,199. Both models feature a 1.4Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, but the 128GB model is upgradeable to 1.6Ghz for another $100.
13.2-inch MacBook Air
The 13.2-inch models featuring a 1440 x 900 resolution display, with larger batteries capable of running for seven hours. They come with 1.86Ghz processors and start at 128GB for $1,299, but it’s expandable to 256GB for $1,599. The 256GB 13.2-inch MacBook Air can also be upgraded to a 2.13Ghz processor.
Both of the new MacBook Airs are available today.
Mac OS X Lion
The new version of Mac OS will add interface improvements that capitalize on the multitouch functionality available in Mac trackpads and mice. Support for new full-screen experiences, one-click app downloads and more are also in the cards.
Apple will be bringing its multitouch capabilities on iOS to the Mac in Mac OS X Lion. Using devices like the Apple Magic Trackpad and the Magic Mouse, users of Lion will be able to naturally flow through work using simple swipes and gestures. Movements will be consolidated through a terminal called Mission Control (pictured).
Apple CEO Steve Jobs also revealed that Apple has tried a number of options for desktop touchscreens, but he said that touch needs to be horizontal. So, in other words, don’t expect an iMac with a giant touch display any time soon.
App Store for Mac
In the upcoming version of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple will be bringing many of its best iOS features to the Mac. First on the list? The App Store. That’s right, there will be a Mac App Store.
The App Store for iOS has been an unprecedented success, with more than 7 billion downloads in little more than two years. The App Store is successful because it makes it easy to discover apps, easy to update apps and easy to get apps on all your iOS devices. This is what Apple will be bringing to the Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Mac App Store.
Developers will receive the same 70/30 split with Apple for their commercial apps, something that may either strike application developers as a good move or a bad move, depending on their current marketing budgets.
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is expected to be released in the Summer of 2011, however the Mac App Store will be available for Snow Leopard in 90 days and applications submissions will start in November.
We think this is a huge step for Mac developers and for Apple. So many fantastic Mac apps are undiscovered because developers don’t have a way to get their wares in front of users.
FaceTime for Mac
Apple has launched FaceTime for Mac, allowing you to make video calls not just to other Macs, but to the 4 million FaceTime-enabled iPhone 4 and iPod touch users.
The features look pretty basic. You just click on a contact and it instantly makes a FaceTime call. Once you’re on the phone with them, a simple video window shows them in either landscape or portrait mode, depending on how they’re orienting their device.
If your contact flips his or her phone into landscape mode, the image will flip on your screen immediately. It’s a nifty effect.
Beta releases sometimes have bugs, but if you’re curious enough to check it out, the beta download is now live! Check it out at Apple’s website. No word on when the non-beta release will come yet, but we’ll keep you posted.
Apple unveiled the next version of iLife, iLife ‘11. One of the signature parts of the iLife suite, iPhoto, is getting a pretty impressive overhaul.
The new iPhoto ‘11 features more full-screen modes for photos, faces and places, more album themes and the ability to order more types of printed goods. iPhoto ‘11 has also added better integration with Facebook, which is sure to make photo fans happy.
With iPhoto ‘09, Apple introduced some new full-screen modes for photo viewing and editing. With iPhoto ‘11, Apple has increased the full-screen options to include faces (the people automatically or manually identified in your photos) and places (where your photos were taken on an interactive map).
In addition, Apple has added some really cool new photo slideshow themes, so that showing off your photos is more cinematic than ever before. I know my mom will go crazy for the new snowflake holiday theme.
iPhoto ‘11 also adds better social-sharing features. You can now send HTML e-mails of your photos with all of your photographs organized and designed directly from within iPhoto. This is great because you don’t have to open up Mail.app, instead you can just send all your images from your photo program.
Apple has also added a new sharing info panel that shows where you have shared your photos (e-mail, Facebook, Flickr), plus any Facebook comments associated with your photographs.
One of my favorite iPhoto features, the photo books, have also received an overhaul. The albums are more intelligent and robust. Plus, you can now view your albums in a Delicious Library-esque shelf system.
In addition to the new photo books, Apple is also now letting users create letterpress cards. These cards are made using the letterpress printing process and it’s pretty awesome that users can now take advantage of this sort of printing technology and templates from within a consumer photo program.
iPhoto ‘11 is part of the iLife ‘11 suite, which will be available for free for all new Macs and available to existing Mac owners for $49.
The State of the Mac
Apple COO Tim Cook gave a “State of the Mac” address to attendees of the “Back to the Mac” event. Obviously, he presented the best news Apple has to offer about the popularity and support behind Mac computers.
First, the impressive sales numbers: Macs make up 33% of Apple’s revenue — that’s $22 billion in a year and a 27% growth over the previous year. Apple claims that Macs now account for one in five PCs sold at retail in the United States and that they have an installed user base of almost 50 million people across the globe. Macs outgrew the market four years in a row.
Cook also took the opportunity to boast about the success of Apple’s retail stores. In the past quarter, Apple’s 318 stores have received 75 million visitors and sold 2.8 million Macs. Half of those sales were to new Mac users. The company just launched its second store in China and claims that the Chinese stores are its busiest.
Apple has implied in the past that the success can be attributed to developer support. Whether that’s lip service or not to say that is beside the point; developer support is indisputably essential for the success of any computing platform. To that end, Apple bragged that it has 600,000 registered developers, with 30,000 new ones each month.
Cook singled out Valve as a great example. The video game developer has transformed PC gaming with its Steam digital distribution and online gaming platform, and earlier this year it brought Steam to Macs. It’s also simultaneously developing all of its games for both the Mac and PC platforms, in addition to any consoles that it’s making the games for.