Apple Goes Back to the Mac

Apple held its “Back to the Mac” shindig in Cupertino today. Here’s the new shiny.

iLife ‘11

Apple demoed major new features in iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand. iWeb and iDVD are still included, but it appears nothing has really changed for those two apps. This is the third iLife release in which iDVD has seen little-to-no love.

iPhoto gets a full-screen navigation mode, which looks very slick. Also, improved built-in email support, with templates; new slideshows; even better books (I’ve ordered books in the past as gifts. They’re fantastic); and letterpress cards. Letterpress is pretty fancy. Hard to believe you can get this from a computer company.

iMovie gets a neat movie trailer editor; impressive audio editing; one-step effects; people finder; and sports & news themes. With the much improved audio editor, it appears Apple’s revamp of iMovie in the 2008 edition has finally matured back to iMovie HD’s former glory.

GarageBand gets a new feature called Flex Time which helps keep various individual instrument tracks in rhythm. Also, Groove Matching takes a “genius” approach to match the rhythm of the whole band to a single rhythm. There are also guitar amps and effects; new basic lessons, and a “How Did I Play?” feature which tests your skills at playing a certain song.

iLife ‘11 is available today for $49, or comes free with a new Mac.

FaceTime for Mac

We all knew this day would come. FaceTime was first introduced with the iPhone 4. I found it useful when my wife was out of town for a week, but it hasn’t been used much since. Apple then brought FaceTime to the latest iPod touch last month, but I still haven’t been used the feature in a while. Now, with FaceTime for Mac, I have a feeling I’ll be video chatting from my iPhone a lot. Why? Grandparents. Both my parents and my wife’s parents have MacBooks, and we currently use iChat so they can see my son. The problem is that two year olds don’t sit still for long, and it’s hard to chase him with a MacBook Pro.

There’s no buddy list to maintain. FaceTime just pulls in your Address Book, just like the iPhone. FaceTime for Mac also installs a Push Notification bundle, so you can receive calls on your Mac even if FaceTime is closed.

Now the grandparents can do FaceTime with our iPhones. Now FaceTime is useful. Now FaceTime is mainstream.

FaceTime for Mac is available today as a public beta.


Apple introduced the next step of Mac OS X – Lion. To create iOS, Apple refashioned parts of Mac OS X. They learned a lot, made the iPad, and are now bringing what they learned from iOS back to the Mac. The main features they want to bring back from iOS are Multi-touch gestures, the App Store, App Home screens, full screen apps, auto save, & auto resume when launching.


On the Mac, multi-touch will take its focus on MacBook trackpads, the Magic Mouse, and the Magic Trackpad instead of the screen. They demoed using a Magic Mouse and an iMac, but honestly, I can’t see that being very comfortable. I use a Magic Trackpad with my MacBook Pro when at my desk (the Macbook is elevated on a stand), and I hope Apple just starts shipping those with iMacs in the near future.

The Mac App Store

Yesterday, I talked about a hope of mine for an easier installation and update process. Well, my wish has been granted, but in a way I didn’t really see happening. Apple is opening a Mac App Store within 90 days. It will be available on Snow Leopard, but I am sure it will be even more tightly integrated with Lion.

It makes sense for Apple to have a Mac App Store. I just figured they wouldn’t upset the status quo of obtaining software straight from developer’s websites. The truth is, after reading many developers’ tweets, is that markets change. The Mac App Store won’t be the only way to get Apps on your Mac (for now), but Apple says it will be the best.

That’s not hard to imagine. Their preview of the Mac App Store looks slick, and installation and updating Apps is as simple as iOS. This will be a big hit with users, who want simple.

I am a bit concerned about copy-protected apps. It even bothers me a bit on iOS. Copy-protection schemes always make me uncomfortable, especially when they come back to bite users.


Launchpad is a full screen grid of all your apps. They can be organized into separate home screens or grouped into iOS-like folders. It is very much the iOS 4 home screen brought to the Mac desktop.

Mission Control

Apple is unifying the abilities of Dashboard, Exposé, Spaces, and full-screen apps into a new feature called Mission Control. You navigate between different areas through swipe gestures. Looks like a great convergence and unification of already great features.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is slated to ship by the end of Summer 2011.

A MacBook and an iPad Hook Up…

Apple introduced a redesigned MacBook Air today, at 13.3- and 11.6-inch screen sizes. Apple bills it as the future of notebooks. The goal was to bring many great features of the iPad to MacBooks. These include “instant on,” great battery life, amazing standby time, and solid state storage (SSD).

Apple’s new MacBook Air boots in about 15 seconds, and has a 5-hour (11.6-inch) and 7-hour (13.3-inch) battery under normal use. Both models have a standby time of 30-days.

There isn’t an optical drive (though you can connect one via USB) nor a hard drive. Instead, Apple uses SSD for storage, just like its iPods, iPads, & iPhones.

The price ranges from $99 to $1,599, depending on model. I bet it goes higher if you customize the order.

The thing I love about the MacBook Air? The media on which its reinstallation software is stored. It’s a little Apple-branded USB drive.

MacBook Air USB Reinstallation Drive

I hope Lion comes on one of these instead of a DVD.


The new iPhoto looks compelling. I’ve been experimenting with Aperture, but I’m just not falling in love with it.

The Mac App Store dropped my jaw a little, more so because I didn’t think Apple would actually do it. But it makes a lot of sense. I imagine it will be great.

Lion looks amazing. I can’t wait until next summer.

The MacBook Air doesn’t thrill me much, but I am excited to see how it will influence the MacBook Pro line.

All in all, great event. The only disappointment was we didn’t see more of Lion.