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MacBook Air

iLife 11

OS X "Lion" Launchpad
Apple announces OS X 10.7, iLife 11, and the MacBook Air

Apple is no stranger to snagging a lot of media attention with their press conferences, and today is no exception. Last week, Apple announced that it would get "Back to the Mac" and the company is appears to be firing on all cylinders with its Mac portfolio.

33% of Apple's revenue comes from Mac, and the computers have been showing 27% year-over-year growth. The company also reports that for the month of August, it had 20.7% of the retail PC market. So it makes sense that the company would be focusing on its Mac platform today.

Apple introduced FaceTime with the iPhone 4, then later brought it to the iPod touch (fourth generation). Now, Apple is adding FaceTime calling to the Mac platform which will allow you to make video calls to both iPhone 4 and iPod touch users. It's a pretty simple software addition to the OS X that will be made available today in beta form.

For today's “entree” as Steve Jobs described, he next jumped into OS X 10.7, “Lion”. Steve Jobs describes Lion as incorporating the best features of iOS which is used on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Some of the features that Steve Jobs highlighted from iOS include:

  • Multi-touch gestures
  • App Store
  • App Home screens
  • Full screen apps
  • Auto save
  • App resume when launched

Steve Jobs described that multi-touch gestures when used on vertical surfaces (i.e. your laptop or desktop screen), your arm becomes fatigued after long-term use. This is the reason why Apple incorporates multi-touch gestures instead to trackpads on the MacBook/MacBook Pro/MacBook Air, the Magic Trackpad, and the Magic Mouse.

Next, the App Store is being brought to the OS X platform with one-click download, free and paid apps, automatic installs, automatic app updates, and apps will be licensed to use on all of your personal Mac computers.

Launch Pad can be accessed from the OS X dock, and it brings up a grid array of apps (think iOS) to allow one-click access to your favorite apps. Naturally, like iOS, you can create folders for your apps and flick through them using multi-touch gestures.

Fullscreen view is available to apps now with Lion, and multi-touch gestures can be used to navigate through the app or between other running applications when running in fullscreen mode. Apple is also combining Expose, Full screen apps, the Dashboard, and Spaces into a feature it calls "Mission Control".

Apple plans to release Lion in Summer 2011. However, the Mac App Store will open within 90 days from today for the Snow Leopard platform. App submissions will begin in November.

The company also announced its new iLife 11 digital media productivity package which was leaked earlier this morning. Steve Jobs highlighted three of the applications in the software suite (which is included for free on all new Macs, and available for $49 for upgraders), the first of which was iPhoto 11. IPhoto 11 features a new fullscreen mode, Facebook enhancements, the ability to email photos (without leaving iPhoto), new slideshows, and letterpress cards.

Next up was iMove 11. New features include all-new ado editing, "one step" effects, people finder (can pinpoint individual people from a video stream), news and sports themes, and the ability to create movie trailers with little effort (this actually looked extremely cool from the demo presented on stage).

The last application from iLife 11 highlighted today was GarageBand 11. The new features include Flex Time, Groove Matching, more guitar amps and effect, new piano and guitar lessons, and a new "How did I play?" component.  

Finally, Steve Jobs announced the new MacBook Air, which is supposed to combine the best of the MacBook and the iPad. The MacBook is 0.68 thin at its thickest point, it tapers down to just 0.11 inches at its thinnest point, and it weighs just 2.9 pounds. It features complete unibody construction, a 13.3” LED-backlit display (1440x900), Core 2 Duo processor, NVIDIA GeForce 320m graphics, 802.11n wireless, two USB ports, full-size keyboard, multi-touch trackpad, and FaceTime. The new MacBook Air forgoes optical and hard drives, and will rely solely on flash for storage. The battery is rated at 7 hours using standard wireless web tests (the previous MacBook Air got 5 hours), and it can run on standby for up to 30 days.

There's also a smaller sibling, an 11.6” MacBook Air which weighs 2.3 pounds. It has a 1366x768 display and all of the features of its bigger brother. It's rated at 5 hours of battery life and 30 days of standby.

The 11.6” model will cost you $999 (1.4GHz, 64GB), $1,199 (1.4GHz, 128GB), while the 13.3” model will set you back $1,299 (1.86GHz, 128GB), $1,599, (1.86GHz, 256GB). MacBook Airs at those prices, unfortunately, only come with 2GB of RAM. However, it appears that the machines can be upgraded to 4GB as a factory option for an additional $100. All variants of the new MacBook Air are available to order today.





"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller







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