Mac Moving To ARM?

There’s a fresh rumor about Apple selling Macs that use custom ARM CPUs instead of Intel silicon as early as 2020. I wrote a breezy 1600 words about it for Fast Company.

Here are some highlights, to entice you to read the whole thing:

  • I like this rumor a lot. Apple making custom CPUs for Macs makes perfect sense.
  • The timing is interesting, too. WWDC is two months away. If Apple has committed to this kind of move and planned to announce it on June 4, they would have recently expanded the group of “people who need to know” to include “possible blabbermouths.”
  • I don’t think Apple would drop Intel completely. It’s easier for me to imagine them using custom CPUs for their consumer-grade Macs and sticking with Intel for the high-horsepower Pro desktops and notebooks. At least for starters.
  • Remember that iOS and MacOS are built on the same foundation. During my very first briefing on the iPhone, Apple told me that the iPhone’s OS is OS X with none of the stuff the Mac needs and all of the things a phone needs.
  • ARM is such a huge move — and presents such a big opportunity for change — that I would expect it to accompany a whole new historical age for the Mac. Either Apple would do radical (and long-overdue) modern rethink, akin to what Microsoft did with Windows 10…or they would effectively transform MacOS into an enhanced version of iOS, in function if not in name.

As much as I like this rumor, I’m still cautious. Apple tries lots of ideas and builds lots of ready-for-market hardware before they commit to anything big. I’ve no doubts whatsoever that there are a whole bunch of ARM-based Mac laptops inside the Apple campus, and that an ARM version of MacOS is done and dusted and has been for some time. But even if someone leaked Apple’s entire WWDC keynote slide deck to me a week before, I refuse to believe any rumor until Apple formally announces.

Do read my whole Fast Company piece.

Making Desktop Webapps in Lion

“By the sainted mustache of Charles Foster Kane! Is it ever hot out there! I should write an app that keeps my city’s Current Weather data from Weather Underground within easy view at all times!”

“Holy rosemary vinaigrette! Today promises to be a huge day of news for Apple! I need to keep an eye on the news from Macworld.com all day today! But there’s no such app for that particular function, dagnabbit!”

“Jumping prophets of Newton Lower Falls! I’m getting far too much work done today! If I don’t find a way to distract myself, I’ll set unreasonably-high expectations of how much work I’ll be expected to accomplish on a Friday! If only there was a way to keep the Adorable Baby Polar Bears Live Webcam on my screen at all times!”

If you’re running Snow Leopard, you’re doomed to a dull life of unmet expectations. At best, you’re at the mercy of third-party developers and their infernal expectation to actually be paid for the apps they write.

In Lion? It’s DIY all the way. Automator — that singularly-awesome utility and infrastructure for automating damned-near any task — has a new feature that allows you to open any webpage inside a popup window. It’s so easy to use and it’s so goddamned useful that I’m amazed it’s not being promoted.

Here’s the incredibly complicated procedure for building an app that keeps a webpage open in a floating window:

1) Launch Automator.

2) Create a new App. (Or a Workflow. But an App will be cooler because you can have it in the Launchpad and start it up with a single click.)

3) Find and drag the “Get Specified URLs” action into your workflow. Just type the name into the search box until Automator finds it for you.

4) Paste in the URL of the site you want to view.

5) Find and drag the “Website Popup” action into the workflow. Choose a size for the window.

6) Save. Done.

Your workflow will look like this:

And when you run the app, it’ll put up a popup window that looks like this:

It’s a real app. It’ll stick around and float above your other windows until you dismiss it. You can move it into other Spaces and do pretty much whatever you want with it.

Did you notice the Really Clever Thing the “Website Popup” does? You can specify the size of the popup window and you can also choose how the app will identify itself to the website. In this example, the “User Agent” has been set to “iPhone.” Which means that Macworld.com thought this app was an iPhone web browser, and it automatically delivered the compact edition of the site.

It’s a little like the “Web Clippings” feature of Dashboard. Except this isn’t Dashboard, so there’s actually a chance in hell that you’ll ever use this thing.

The less-snarky thing to say is that this tool integrates into your mainstream Mac workspace far better, and its definable User Agent setting means that you can get it to work with the far more useful mobile editions of your most useful sites. It’s particularly keen for webcams. A friend recently set up a webcam for his pet birds. As a Dashboard Web Clipping, I’d have to carefully adjust the clip size and then I’d have to be in Dashboard to actually use it. I also couldn’t share this with other people. As an Automator app, it’s two quick steps, it runs alongside my other apps, and any time my friend wants to share the webcam with someone, he can just email them the app.

I think the Automator team at Apple has two mandates. The first one, of course, is to give every Mac user more power and control over how they do things, to save everybody time, and to restore the sort of volksprogramming experience that the Mac community lost when Apple terminated HyperCard.

But the self-appointed mandate is to keep emphasizing the truly cool things that you can do with this utility. With each new OS release, there comes at least one new Automator action that I play with for a while and then think “I can’t believe I built something that does this in that little amount of time!

Edited:

“Is it possible to ask the user for a URL first?” asks @Thomas. That’s a nifty idea: instead of locking the app to just open Macworld.com, you could make a general-purpose “Open this URL as an iPhone webapp” utility.

And yes, of course, it’s easy-peasy. Instead of hard-coding the URL into the “Get Specified URLs” action, just add an action that asks for text input from the user and then feed that into an action that extracts a URL from any given text. That’ll dump the URL into the next function and Bob’s yer uncle. Viz:

The app will present the user with a standard dialog and then it’ll open the URL.

It’s yet another testament to how deep Automator goes. You rarely get tripped up by the problem “All of the basic functions are there but alas, there’s one critical element missing so no, you can’t do that.” And later on, it’s always easy to adapt or extend a workflow to accommodate a new idea or a change in needs.

Edited again:

A Trusted Advisor on Automator informs me of a cool Automator shortcut: if you drag a URL proxy (from your browser’s address bar) into the editing window Automator automatically builds you a “Get Specified URLs” action, using that URL.

One More Thing…remember “Back To The Mac”?

Oh, and one more thing:

(This wouldn’t be a column about a Steve Jobs keynote if there weren’t One More Thing, yes?)

Let’s not forget that Apple’s whole message during their last (and first) Mac OS X 10.7 demo was “Back To The Mac.” A stated goal for the future of the Mac is to take some of the technologies they developed for the iPad and some of what they’ve learned from a year’s worth of apps and users and bring them into Mac OS.

Many worry that this means that Apple will do away with MacOS entirely. Naw, it means that they think “my computer wakes from sleep in less than a second” and “multitouch gestures enhance the vocabulary of a GUI” are good things to keep in mind when figuring out the Mac’s next step.

Another lesson Apple could have learned from iOS is that “syncing data” is less powerful and handy a concept than “your data is just there.” After more than a year with my iPad I can state that I rarely put data on the thing via iTunes. It’s always a process where I decide “I want to use that file I was working on this morning with my Mac” and after a brief detour through Dropbox, bango, I’ve got that file I was working on this morning with my Mac.

So when I say that I suspect that Apple’s overall plan for iCloud is to make the device irrelevant, I’m not saying “It doesn’t matter if you have a phone or a tablet: all of your desktop files will be available to you.” I mean that your desktop and your notebook will be no different from anything else. It’ll just be another device that can access and articulate your data in a manner that makes sense for that specific kind of device.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple minimizes MacOS’ whole file system in some near release. Not 10.7, of course. But it’s becoming more and more clear that most of the accepted rules for desktop operating systems are now…well, off the desktop. Even such quaint 1980’s concepts as “windows where you drill through directories filled with files.”

Mac OS App Store Now Open

Yup, the App Store opened today, as predicted. Some quick bullets:

  • You’ll need to download an OS update to get access to the store: it’s a Mac OS X 10.6.6 party.
  • Once you’ve updated, you’ll find a new item in the Apple Menu. Click “App Store…” to open the Store window.
  • It’s not a page in iTunes. The Store is its own separate app, with a Dock icon and everything.
  • If you’ve seen the App Store app on the iPad, you’ve got a handle on the Mac OS X App Store. It’s practically the same browsing and shopping experience.
  • Pricing (which is set by the developers) seems to be a hybrid of desktop and iOS app structure. The familiar hits haven’t suddenly dropped down to $2.99, which is a relief; it means that we might avoid a “race to the bottom.” But there are many free apps and cheap games.
  • It’s a simple click-to-purchase. Sign in with your AppleID. The app downloads and the icon leaps from its spot in the store and directly into a spot in your Dock (Yes. With animation and everything). Apple couldn’t have come up with a simpler method of installing an app.

So far, so good. Now we just need to see how well this whole ecosystem works. It’s easy to get developers to get on board for the launch. It remains to be seen if, a year from now, the developer community decides that this is a great way for them to reach consumers and sell them software. The first sale is easy…but will the App Store help them to build a relationship with their customers that leads to ongoing paid upgrades?

I’d think about this some more. But my Cheerios are getting soggy.

Mac Event Liveblog

2:29:55 PM

New ad. “Evereything we’ve learned…has come down to this.” Nice subtle reference that brings the hipness of iPad and iPhone into the Mac line.

Jony Ive, stranded in the Apple Negative Zone, talking about the MacBook Air.

It truly does look as though it’s a notebook built using iPad technologies. Just goes to show how Apple does business: everything’s connected.

It also looks as though this new Air can peel the skin off of a tomato and slice tin cans in half while not losing its edge.

So the Air has a “take two.” It’s one of those products that was released and then sort of just sat there. It was expensive, underpowered, and the lack of ports (just one USB) was a big inconvenience. I took it for a weeklong conference days after Apple sent me the loaner and it was really tough to juggle the Air and a digital camera.

(My Air will arrive tomorrow morning.)

 

2:24:43 PM

Why solid-state storage? Instant on, 2x faster, more reliable, 90% smaller and lighter…and faster.

“Apple is the largest user of flash memory in the world; we know a lot about making flash storage subsystems.”

Battery life, when using wireless web: 7 hours of use. 30 days of standby time.

“Even using the more stringent tests, that’s what we’re getting. Using the old, liberal tests, the old MacBook Air got 5.”

Inside:

Flash storage right on the board, like on iOS devices (not in a housing). Biggest thing is the battery (four slabs). TIny board is the actual Mac. “Using the knowledge we’ve gained designing iPhones and iPads.”

“And it has a younger brother, too:”

Little brother is 11.6 inches, 2.3 pounds. All the things with the larger one (Core 2, NVid, big keybaord, LED backlit display, camera, 1366×768 pixels.

5 hours of wireless web, 30 days of standby.

Pricing: $999 for 11.6 inch model, 64 gigs of storage. 128 gigs is $1199.

13 inch: slightly faster processor, $1299, 128 gig. $1599 for 256 gig.

Both models include 2 gigs of RAM.

Energy Star 5.0, Mercury free, arsenic free, meet EPA standards. You damned hippies.
Both models are available starting today. (Applause).

 

2:18:34 PM

“One More Thing…”

“Virtuous Circle”: Mac OS creates iOS and that inspires new features for Mac OS.

“It also has benefits for our hardware. What if a MacBook met an iPad? There’s a lot to be inspired there as well.”

Instant on.

Great battery life.

Amazing standby time.

Solid state storage…no hard drives or optical drives.

Thin and light, which means more mobile.

“What would happen if a Mac and an iPad hooked up?” (laughter)

“It’s one of the most amazing things we’ve ever created: it’s the new MacBook Air and we think it’s the future of notebooks.”

Damn, that looks thin. Stupid thin. At its thickest point .68 inches and tapers down to .11 inches at thinnest point. Weighs 2.9 pounds. (Oooo…triple the weight of an iPad, tough)

New iPad is completely unibody aluminum construction. Full-sized keyboard and fullsized glass trackpad. “These are areas you don’t want to sacrifgice.”

13.3 inch LED backlit display.

1440×900 pixels (“More than on the 15″ MacBook Pro”)

Core 2 Duo, NVIDIA GeForce 320m (same as MacBook)

FaceTime camera, mutitouch trackpad.

“Just as important are the things it doesn’t have: no optical and no hard drive.”

 

2:13:57 PM

“The Mac is a third of our business” with $22B in revenue. Continue to invest in retail store and happy with how “it brings people into the Mac tent.”

Steve is wrapping up announcements so far. Next up for sure: the new Airs.

 

2:12:29 PM

Steve: “I wish we had another hour and a half to show you more.” Will show more as they get closer to release. Plan is to release Summer 2011 (though that’s a target, not a promise).

“We don’t want to wait for Lion” for the Mac App Store. Will open it for Snow Leopard within 90 days. (!!!) Developers can start learning about it today, app submissions start in November.

(OK, Steve, but is it curated? Can ANY app get in there? More info, please!)

 

2:10:31 PM

Hands off the demo.

App Store. Dock icon for the App Store. Store looks like the same App Store for iOS. (I worry. I already have a hell of a lot of trouble culling out the one good app in a category from the 29 other similar ones that totally suck.)

One panel to download updates to all of your apps. (Does it work inside System Update as well, or do I need to go to the App Store to do it?)

Store pages. Customer ratings, screenshots, one-click purchasing. App icon actually flies out of the store page and lands inside the Dock. Click and you’re running the app. (Demos it with a purchase of Pages.)

Next: LaunchPad. “Super convenient way to organize and launch your apps.” Click icon in Dock. You get a grid of icons. Click to launch. LaunchPad fades back as app fades forward. Pages of icon and you can flick through like on the iPad, with multitouch gestures. can organize with click and drag.

Make folders the same was as on iOS: drag one icon on top of another.

(Interesting. So if Apple <em>does</em> build that convertible-hinge iMac like we saw in the patent filing, all of the components for a simple multitouch desktop are there.)

Fullscreen. Can open a PDF (say) and use multitouch gestures to turn pages. Gestures for getting in and out of fullscreen.

iPhoto goes from fullscreen to “standard” view with a flick. It looks like the open fullscreen PDF is another “space”; you flick to the left, and your desktop slides off to the left and the open “book” slides in from the right.

“Flick” seems to be part of the new lingo.

“We’ve unified dashboard (and all that stuff) into one space called “mission control.”

Gesture on trackpad makes an Epose view of windows, plus across the top there’ ariubbon of fullscreen apps, and on the bottom there’s the dock. Click or gesture and I’m inside any of these apps. Another gesture and back to Mission Control.

“If I’m looking for a window and it’s covered up, I can flick in and you see there it is, clustered by apps so it’s easy to find. I click and it comes forward.”

Expose now clusters windows from apps and clusters them together (as a wide “pile” with live previews.)

Whew!

 

2:02:59 PM

“Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical. It gives great demo, but after an extended period of time, you arm wants to fall off. Touch surfaces want to be horizontal…hence Pads.”

This is why they’ve done multitouch trackpads; “best way to get multitouch into a notebook.” Also done it with the mouse and the external trackpad. “That’s how we’re going to do multitouch on the Mac.”

The App Store. “Over 7 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store. We’ve never seen anything like this.”

As part of Lion there’ll be a Mac App Store:

1) Best place (not the only place) to discover apps.

2) One-click downloads.

3) Free and paid apps.

4) Revenue sharing (same 70/30).

5) Automatic installation.

6) Automatic app updates.

Apps will be licensed to be used on all of your Macs. “Very simple.”

You’ll have a single place to put them: “LaunchPad.” A single space, like on the iPad (OK, but can I put those icons elsewhere, too?)

Expose, Dashboard, Full screen apps, Spaces.

As we’ve added fullscreen apps, we’ve found a way to integrate them all, “We call it ‘Mission Control’.”

 

1:58:56 PM

Next up: the entree. MacOS X.

Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard — and now “Lion.”

“We started with Mac OS 10, and created a new version called iOS, which we used for the iPhone. We added new things, and perfected it, and now it’s in the iPhone. What wed like to do is, we’re inspired by those innovations and now we’d like to bring them Back To The Mac.”

“At a high level, these are going to be the most exciting things.”

“What have we learned and been inspired by on the iPad?”

Multitouch gestures “can be really important on the Mac.”

“The App Store has revolutionized how people get their apps.” (Big Brother uh-oh number 3)

App Home Screens.

Fullscreen apps (every app on iOS is a fullscreen app). “Sometimes, that’s a great idea for the desktop.” Says “Sometimes” twice…don’t worry.

Auto-save “is one less thing to worry about.”

“And when you launch apps, they come back to right where you were when you left them.”

 

1:55:19 PM

FaceTIme: “We’ve shipped 19 million FaceTime devices.” OK, so there’s the “there’ll be more than 10 million FT devices by the end of the year” announcement at the rollout.

Brings FaceTime to the desktop, gets all the info out of your contact list. No need to set up a new account. Even does fullscreen.

Hmm…no mention of “And it’s integrated into iChat.” Are they keen to make it an iTunes-like app, available for all platforms?

FaceTime window supports rotation…if chatting with someone on an iPhone and he rotates, you can swivel your window the same way.

“There’s really nothing else to demo,” he says.

“That’s FaceTime for the Mac.” Beta is released today, downloadable from Apple.com. New logo.

(No mention of Windows or the “open-ness” of Facetime promised earlier.)

 

1:51:53 PM

Learn To Play tracks your performance and shows you how well you’re doing. Or not doing. Called “How Did I Play?”

Back to Steve. “Isn’t that great?”

“We have over 5 million people using GarageBand.

No mention of iDVD, even though it was one of the icons showed at the top of the demo. Still free suite with every new Mac, $49 as a bundle if you have iLife ’09.

Steve urges the engineering manager of iLife to stand up for a bow. I’ve always liked that; it’s been a consistent thing with Apple, this recognition of (some) of the engineers.

 

 

1:49:17 PM

FLexTime lets you stretch or squash sections of recordings to match up with other tracks.

New lessons. This is a feature that didn’t really catch on from the last edition, did it?

“Let’s look at Mozart’s Minuet in F-Major”:

Learn To Play feature plays in fullscreen.

My disappointment with these lessons has always been that the point is to train you to hit the right keys in the right sequence. It doesn’t really teach you the underlying ideas that help you to understand the “language” of the keyboard. This is why I stalled after three or four years on the keyboard; I hit a wall were I couldn’t get past “This sheet music represents the keys you need to hit and the proper sequence.” Friends of mine really grokked the language. They <em>read</em> music.

I do like the new “group performance” lesson, where you can play along with a quartet and see how well you do.

 

 

 

1:45:27 PM

(Jobs sounds a little hoarse.)

GarageBand 11. New features for fixing the timing and rhythm of the music (I shall call this the ‘American Idol’ feature.)

Xander Soren takes the stage to show it off. Shows off new recording tools and “a fun way to learn the piano and guitar.”

(“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “GarageBand 11”.)

(Anybody? Okay, whatever, let’s bring out your headliner now…)

Xander shows off a multitrack recording in which the drums are the only track where the musician is playing on tempo.

New “Groove matching feature” can fix this with just one click. Hover over tracks, can select one track as the “groove” track designating it as having the right rhythm. GB analyzes it “including the human feel” and then locks everything together to the rhythm of that track (as opposed to the app simply saying “OK, he’s playing in 3/4 time” and making everything 3/4).

So: GarageBand has brought Incompetence-Masking Technology to a new level, opening the world of pop music to a wider swath of lost sheep desperate for fame.

 

 

1:40:34 PM

Now direct sharing to Facebook and Vimeo.

Showing off two more trailer styles.

Well, if nothing else, it’ll help convince people to only do REALLY short, trailer-ey videos. As the survivor of wayyyy too many 45 minute extravaganzas inflicted by so-called “friends,” I like what this means.

Music is great. I think the new pastime will be to try to spot this music in commercial videos…like, in the middle of a gum commercial you’ll shout “J’ACCUSE!!! That’s ‘Radiant Triumphant Swell #2’ from iMovie 11!!!!”

Jobs pronounces it “Awesome.”

 

1:37:43 PM
Finished trailer looks great. But Apple is sitting on 50 billion dollars in cash. Couldn’t they have hired the “In a WORRRRLDDD…” guy to be standing by 24/7 to narrate your home movie trailer?

 

1:36:36 PM

Trailer tool lets you adjust metadata for the clip, the studio logo, the “microtext” credits page — it looks like a fun tool that tries to make your video look as much like a real studio trailer as possible.

Actually commissioned new scores for these titles, recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra. Yeah, you “open source apps are always best” — you folks have the resources for THAT? :)

Spending a lot of time showing the Trailer tool. Odd. Seems like a fun idea but they spent less time explaining the audio tools.

People Finder: Face detection in Video. Can ID shots that have 1 person, 2 people, Many people. Can identify closeup, medium, wideshot. Wow, that could be quite awesome. When editing you might be thinking “We’ve been wide for a long time. Show me a medium shot with people; that’s what I need next.”

I like what I see. I hate editing video because I think it’s still so technical that you really need to have a very good reason to make this video before you’ll set off to invade Russia like this. But if I can get as much help as possible from iMovie to find the shots I want and keep things organized…awesome.

 

1:31:51 PM

That’s iPhoto. Steve: “I think that’s awesome. This is why we do what we do.” For the record, I do believe that Steve is completely sincere when he says things like that.

Next up: iMovie. “The number one request we got after the last iMovie was ‘better audio editing’. The team has gone above and beyond the call of duty and come up with something great.”

Plus: “One step effects,” a “People Finder” (to help you find clips with people in them — note, second “Big Brother” feature of the day), and a third feature I missed because I was typing that. I believe it was new Sports themes and such.

Audio editing: can now show audio waveforms, color-coded to show peaks, overlaid right on the video clip in realtime. This should make it very easy to to close edits (you can easily see the point where someone starts talking, for instance.)

Adjusting audio segments is easier. Can select a segment and drag it downward, which reduces the volume until the peaks are under the point of pain. Slick.

New: audio effects. Little boy does the “Luke…I am your father” line with an icicle. Can make him sound like Vader. OK.

One-Step Effects: like Instant Replay. Select a clip, choose “Instant Replay,” and tell it how slow you want it to go. One-step and it builds the replay with a title and everything.

“Flash and hold last frame” – the usual “photo of the last frame sticks around” effect.

I’m always a little skeptical about these effects. They’re cool demos but do people really use them? I’d be happy if it were easy to put arbitrary text on a frame instead of making my text fit inside one of the canned Title templates.

New “movie trailer” builder.

 

1:25:00 PM

New Books features. A style carousel previews a book layout with all of your photos already there. One-click Create tool.

Do lots of people really use that Book feature? I should give it another try. My problem is that it’s so tricky to make sure that the printed results match your expectations. (Also, I’m the kind of dork who keeps editing a Flickr album for days after the original post. It’d be like that Monty Python sketch in which the customer keeps tearing out pages from the bird book because there are so many birds he suddenly doesn’t like.)

It does seem a little quaint to see Apple so eager to get people to use…you know…actual books. You’d think Steve would be pacing and talking about all of the problems of analog photo sharing and how the iPad represents Apple’s solution.

Also keen to see if this feature will let me build iBooks photo books. I’ll be surprised if Apple misses that trick.

Nnnnope, he’s moved on to cards. New letterpress styles. So cool that it seems to require its own video. Reminiscent of those “How A Trombone Is Manufactured” videos they used to show on “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.”

 

1:20:50 PM

New mechanism for sharing photos via email: it all happens within iPhoto. No longer hands you off to the Mail app. Hmm. Does it have its own mail client built-in? Would it work if I didn’t use Mail as my favored client?

As usual: a very pretty photo bulletin board collage goes off. Can send a postcard version or the full-sized originals. Even the RAW files, I wonder?

New “Sharing” panel: when I look for details of a photo, iPhoto will tell me that I emailed it to so and so, that I uploaded it to Flickr, that these were the comments it got on Facebook. Neat…nicely social integration, there.

 

1:18:20 PM

iPhoto. Interesting how “fullscreen” looks a lot like an iPad app, eh? Though it’s probably more accurate to say that the iPad’s photo library was designed to be consistent with Apple’s future plans.

Very nice “camerawork” on the enhanced Map function. Could almost be a clip from a spy thriller in which the CIA is trying to target Jason Bourne…smooth camera moves as you traverse the map, looking for pushpins marking photo locations. Lovely slideshow feature (automatic) incorporating mapwork. Map moves behind the photos as the slideshow moves from one shot to another.

So this might convince people to turn on the Location features on their cameras. Which plays RIGHT into the hands of the Trilateral commission and their plans to track our every movement! Treachery! Beware!

(Joke. I hope.)

Another slideshow template. Looks a little like an Apple commercial, as your photos move in and out of Apple’s patented White Void where all of their products live.

Another slideshow template. Using Vince Guaraldo’s score from “Charlie Brown Christmas” as the music. “Holiday Mobile” is the name of the template…wonder if you get that track with iPhoto? Prolly not. Very famous instrumental tune. But these templates look great.

 

1:13:10 PM

iLife is first out the gate. iLife 11 with the same range of apps (including iDVD, curiously; it’s long been marked for death by the rumor mills).

iPhoto: has new fullscreen modes. “You can live fullscreen in iPhoto.” New Facebook enhancements, which makes sense as FB has become the #1 photo hosting side. New features for emailing photos, new slidehows, and they’ve goosed up the Books feature (“We’re printing 2 million books a year.”) Also adding letterpress cards.

Phil Schiller takes over for the demo.

 

1:10:33 PM

This is a three-screen event for me, incidentally: I’m watching the livestream on the iPad, blogging on my MacBook, and I have a second Mac open for live chat with MacBreak Weekly with video (which I’ll join when the event is over).

Damn and blast…the video has skipped back a few minutes just as Steve asked everybody to silence their phones. I don’t dare close to refresh the video window…I couldn’t get the feed up on another machine after I started it on the iPad!

 

 

1:06:37 PM
Starting off with the usual stuff: numbers. Apple kicks butt, we should have our own orbiting battle station by 2018, etc.

 

1:05:57 PM
Late start, sensation-seekers, but off we go!

 

Apple: Back to the Mac? October 20

Apple logo rotating through an aluminum slab, with "Back To The Mac" captioned underneath.

We’ve all been navigating the question “iPhone. iPad. Apple TV. When will Apple have any real Mac news?”

Aha. Well, I just got an invite to another Apple media event next Wednesday. This one is on the Apple campus, which would mark it as a smaller event than the recent ones in downtown SF.

What will they talk about? Well, you can see a lion peeking out from behind the logo there. Soo…

IT’S A TRAP!!! APPLE HAS TRANSFORMED TOWN HALL INTO A ROMAN ARENA OF BLOODSPORT!!!!!!!!!!! JOURNALISTS AND ANALYSTS BEWARE!!!!!

Or maybe we’ll get to see the next version of the OS. The fact that there’s a cat involved settles an issue that I’d been puzzling over for a few months. I wondered if Apple might sit out the next year or so and make the next release of Mac OS X a truly revolutionary 11.0. Sticking to the traditional feline theme suggests that we’ll see a 10.7 that simply builds upon Snow Leopard.

It’s hard to predict what the new OS will contain. FaceTime integration into iChat is a good guess. Overall, you should be looking for features that tie the whole product line together, such as AirPlay, and ways of integrating the Mac OS file system into mobile devices. Apple’s been building the Death Star for quite some time — aka that huge new data center in North Carolina — so honestly, any guess that would require massive storage and infrastructure seems possible.

I’ve always thought that Apple had all of the components necessary for truly device-independent computing. Today, I can start a column, head off to the coffeeshop with my iPad, finish my draft, and then give it a final read through and edit on my iPhone while I’m waiting for an oil change…all because I use a Dropbox folder for storage. Elevate that to the OS level and you have some idea of what I can imagine.

We’ll know for sure next week. I’ll be attending if I can find an underwriter for the trip.

Apple’s Magic Trackpad – Just the start of the magic trick?

Apple press photo of the Magic Trackpad input device. A small aluminum pad next to a Bluetooth keyboard, with a hand on the pad.
Apple's new Magic Trackpad makes me wonder what it's really meant to connect with.

Photos of Apple’s new Magic Trackpad leaked a while ago. If it were any other company’s product, it’d have been a slam-dunk sneak peek. But this is Apple; nothing’s released until it’s released. Or at least officially announced.

Compare and contrast this with PC makers who indiscriminately spray new products into crowds of terrified consumers, or (God help us all) Microsoft. I sometimes wonder if Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is Tyler Durden from “Fight Club.” Tyler takes to the stage once or twice a year to show off “Exciting! Revolutionary! GAME-CHANGING!!!” new Microsoft software and hardware. He’s energetic! Aggressive! Confident! He has a PLAN!!!!!!!

…And then a month later, meek, rudderless Steve Ballmer watches the video in shock. I…I said that?!? It’s insane! I must be stopped! Lo and behold, nearly everything that Interesting Steve announced in the 2010 CES keynote has been scrapped.

Not Apple. Unless you want to counter-argue that maybe Steve Jobs’ Tyler Durden personality completely took over while he was in high school and never let go. If so, cool; let’s order a pitcher of drinks because we’ve hit upon a good topic for group discussion.

So: Magic Trackpad. It was released this morning, along with updates to the iMac line and a new Cinema Display. And, surprisingly, a new Apple AA battery charger whose main feature seems to be that after your batteries have been topped off, it draws 10% of the power of other AA chargers.

On its own, the Magic Trackpad is sort of an ordinary release. It’s a big notebook-style trackpad, built as a separate Bluetooth input device so that it can be used with desktops. Nice idea. I’ve had Wacom’s Bamboo tablet for a while now and I love it. Resting your hand on part of your desk and just tickling a surface is a quick and natural way to control the cursor, and you can set up the Bamboo with multitouch gestures for launching and switching apps, selecting tools…pretty much anything that a sane man could want.

A little trackpad like this is also a handy compromise for folks who sort of want a tablet input but can’t justify the expense. I use the Bamboo to sign documents and it’s also lets me “fingerpaint” edits to photos and artwork, either via my fingertips or a precision stylus.

Neat. The Magic Trackpad goes a little further in that it natively supports MacOS touch gestures. It’s not a “special” input device powered by unique drivers; it just is, so to speak.

Nope, I don’t have one yet but I expect I’ll have one shortly. So a hands-on review will have to wait until I get my hands on one.

Still, the existence of this device invites me to strap on the long, salt-and-pepper fake beard that I keep on a special peg next to the desk for just these sort of beard-stroking opportunities.

I think this device articulates their faith in multitouch interfaces. Across the board.

  1. It’s a “bridge” device that enables every MacOS device to have a multitouch input. If Apple were to develop more aggressive multitouch support for MacOS 10.7, they’d need to have this sort of device on the price list and out in the field. I don’t think that a multitouch revolution is necessarily appropriate for a desktop OS, but building a big, standalone trackpad gives MacOS engineers a certain amount of liberty to be bold.
  2. Bluetooth means that it’ll work with anything Apple’s got going. The fundamental connection between a human being and an iPad will always be “fingers on a screen.” But a Bluetooth multitouch surface expands the reach of the iPad by at least making it possible to (for example) tether your iPad to a conference room projector but control it via a pocketable $69 device. It also makes it easier to use the iPad as a home audio or video component.
  3. AppleTV just got realllllllllly interesting. Existing AppleTVs — the one Apple product you’ve forgotten about, the one that sits at the back of the class and never raises its hand — are MacOS devices. They’re controlled via IR remotes and thus they require line-of-site between the device and the operator. With the Magic Trackpad in the product lineup, Apple could completely reinvent the AppleTV as a device that hides somewhere behind your TV, runs a new flavor of iOS, and ships with a Magic Trackpad instead of a clickybutton remote.

Mind you, I’m not speculating about a new AppleTV that looks and feels like a TV/HDMI version of the iPad. I’m imagining something with a UI built for a TV screen, to be viewed and interacted with from ten feet away.

Even if we leave aside any changes to the AppleTV’s inputs or UI, the big benefit of moving AppleTV to iOS would be that it’d instantly allow the device to take advantage of the huge iOS development ecosystem. The work that iOS developers have put into iPhone and iPad apps could go into AppleTV apps as well. The biggest problem with the AppleTV has always been the tame and provincial nature of its feature set. Two months after Apple releases iOS dev tools for it, those problems would disappear.

And what’s the point of designing a brand-new, iOS-optimized, fast but power-saving A4 CPU if you’re not going to stick one inside everything you’ve got going?

It’s all speculation (which is why this is on my blog instead of Someplace Reputable). And the calmer, more rational line of thought is that Apple could transition AppleTV to iOS and the A4 processor without a new multitouch wireless input device. Still, the Magic Trackpad does inspire one to dream, doesn’t it?