Highlights From Apple’s ‘Back to the Mac’ Press Event

There was a ton of info revealed today at Apple’s ‘Back to the Mac’ event.  Instead of rewriting everything you’ve likely read elsewhere, I’ve decided to highlight the most important information revealed.

Apple brings FaceTime to the Mac

This is pretty basic, but important news.  If you own a Mac…virtually any Mac, you can now download the official FaceTime beta from Apple’s official website.  This is great news for those with family members or friends who happen to own a FaceTime compatible iDevice such as an iPhone 4, a new iPod Touch or an iPad.  For those who don’t know FaceTime is a video conferencing software currently making its way through all of Apple’s latest devices.  It’s an open source application that will likely be making its way onto many other devices in the coming year.  It all depends on how successful it moving forward.  Thus far Skype has shown interest in adopting the standards within their own application.  More info to come.

Go from your Mac to iPhones and iPod Touches everywhere.

iLife ’11

Apple revealed their latest update to iLife, a collection of software including major updates to iPhoto, Garageband,  and iMovie.  The software suite also includes iDVD and iWeb, although both applications have not been updated.  There’s far too many enhancements for me to list here, but know that for $49 this is a great upgrade to iLife ’09.

A new iPhoto, Garageband and iMovie! I've got mine ordered, do you?

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

The rumors were true, aren’t they always?  Apple offered a very brief sneak peak at just a few small updates they plan to make to their OS.  The biggest addition is that of an App Store for the Mac.  Now before people go flipping out over the ‘closed garden’ approach, you need to understand that Apple is not limiting anyone from releasing their own software outside the App Store .  There are MANY different rules here compared to what they have on their iOS devices.  In other words, software released on this App Store will likely be far more raunchy than what’s available on their other ones.  I don’t expect adult content, but they don’t have to worry about carriers this time around.

App Store for Mac. I was only a matter of time.

They also talked about Launch Pad, which is essentially a new app that highlights all of your purchased or free apps.  Think of it like the Dashboard.  Instead of having Widgets, now you have tons of App icons.  You can make folders with them, have different pages, etc.  It looks like a great way to sort through all the content you download from the App Store.

Look ma your very own App home screen.

Mission Control was the next new features revealed.  So with Exposé, Dashboard, and everything else, the Mac desktop is getting a little cumbersome.  Apple plans to fix that with Mission Control.  Mission Control shows you everything you currently have opened on your Mac.  It easily categorizes all your content together.  Take a look at the picture for a better understanding of what I’m talking about.

Mission Control looks like a great way to easily get to where you want to go quickly. With so much going on at the same time, this is going to be a lifesaver.

Finally full screen applications were once again talked about.  While Steve Jobs said this was only a brief teaser of what’s to come, I think we can expect all native Apple apps to work similar to the picture including showing off the new iPhoto.  This is long overdo in my mind.  For far too long the infamous menu bar has always showed its ugly face.  Even in Windows you always have the task bar to deal with.  Now we have applications that take over 100% of the screen real-estate while allowing you to jump from one to another easier.  How exactly does that work?

Notice anything missing? Where's the close and minimize buttons? Where's the file menu bar? Ahh!

Touch controls.  Ok so it’s not exactly what you’re thinking, but close.  Apple’s Magic Mouse and trackpad allow users to flick two fingers up, down and left and right.  By doing this you flip from one open application to the next.  It’s extremely intuitive and looks very smooth.  For those with older Macs, fear not, all of these movements are associated to key commands and alternative mouse button presses.

We can expect many more features to show up before its Summer 2011 release, but thus far it looks like the best parts of iOS are making their way to Mac OS without giving up all the features people have come to expect.  I especially like Mission Control.  That really nails what Microsoft did with Windows 7, and what Apple did with Exposé. If you are opening a business or already have one then you need SalonTouch Studio software.

Oh there is just one more thing – MacBook Air

When Steve Jobs said he wanted a MacBook that was as responsive as an iPad his engineers must have started to sweat.  Making a laptop with a full OS on it is tough enough as is, but being told to have one of the key features be always-on – instant on, well that’s something else entirely.  So here’s exactly what happens.  You boot the computer up but instead of shutting it down, you put it to sleep.  This is done just like on any other computer.  What makes this so different is that it can last 30 DAYS in this mode without needing to be charged.  I wish I could say the same with my MacBook Pro.  Steve wants people to stop shutting their computers off, and start putting them to sleep instead.  He figures that a computer that’s off is less likely to be used as one that’s simply asleep.  You know something, he may be onto something.  Whenever my laptop is off I grab my iPad, but when it’s on, I typically go for that extra power boost instead.  It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this, but I like where he’s coming from.  While in use the battery will last up to 8 hours of hardcore use.

Coming in at only 0.11-0.68 inches thick, this ifis the thinnest laptop out there. The unibody design makes it one o the most durable as well. Looks like you can have your cake and eat it too.

The new MacBook Air comes with a few key omissions, namely an optical drive and a hard drive.  Come again?  Instead of an HDD, the new MacBook Air uses integrated flash storage up to 250GB to store data.  It’s also available in configurations of up to 4GB of RAM.  In order to achieve the always-on/instant-on feature I knew they were going to have to make a cut somewhere and the processor is where that cut lies.  Instead of an i-series processor from Intel, we’re getting an up to 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor.  The graphic card is a NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory.  Clearly this isn’t the type of computer for the gaming nut, but it’s not designed to be.  It’s designed to be an iPad replacement for those who want a netbook without sacrificing the OS.  There are two models, one is 11 inches and one is 13 inches.  The smaller one weighs a mere 2.3 pounds, and the larger 2.9 pounds.  Pretty stunning.  Obviously pricing is important, and the new MacBook Air starts at $999.99.  That’s a smart price point as any cheaper and they would eat into iPad sales.  It also prevents people from calling it a netbook, which it most certainly is going up against.

That’s all she wrote everyone.  Take a gander at all the screenshots and let me know if anything you’ve read here interests you.  My significant other is already asking me if I’d mind getting her the tiny MacBook Air for Christmas.  Girls these days, geesh!  ;)

6 thoughts on “Highlights From Apple’s ‘Back to the Mac’ Press Event”

    1. Yeah I wouldn expect that until the days OS X arrives on PC….meaning never. The iLife software suite is extremely useful for making people creative with their computer. I have friends who now make songs on a regular basis thanks to Garageband, home movies have never been so easy to edit thanks to iMovie and with iPhoto I can easily store my 800,000 digital pictures. If you come to E3 with us again I’ll show you the latest goods ;)

  1. I am looking at the macbook pro right now and I must say it is REALLY tempting. If I had not uprgaded my pc to an i7 core a few months ago I would probably be going for the mac it right now…

    1. I really wish Apple offered a mid tower like they used to years ago. They don’t offer it because they know it would eat into their iMac sales, but a Mac Pro is out of the question right now. The Mac Mini is just too underpowered for what I want to do with it. Grr! My laptop is going on 4 years old now and it remains my go to computer. It’s the most reliable computer I own, even after having upgraded the OS three times on the thing. You know how I feel about this ;)

    1. Yeah it’s just way too powerful for my current needs. There’s nothing on the market that supports the power of the current Mac Pros. We’re talking 6, and 8 core processors here. Their iMac line is more along the lines of what you gets with a PC alternative, minus the high-def screen. Therein lies the problem. You have to buy the screen with an iMac so if you have another lying around, you’re kind of shafted. If they offered a mid tower that featured i3 to i7 processors that would be awesome, but it would appear those days are over. I would buy one of those in a heartbeat. The Mac Mini is in the opposite situation. It’s under powered for my needs and has virtually no upgradability. The compact size is wonderful, but outside that there’s just not enough going on for it.

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