WWDC 2004: Live keynote coverage

MacCentral has concluded live coverage of Apple CEO Steve Jobs' keynote address to attendees of the 2004 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Please check our home page for other WWDC-related coverage.

Attendance is up

Apple CEO Steve Jobs told attendees of this year's WWDC keynote address that 3,500 developers are attending this year's conference -- a rise of 17 percent over last year's enrollment. Developers from 44 different countries are attending this year's conference.

Jobs also talked about Apple's success with its retail store chain, and told developers that if they have a product that isn't yet on the store shelves, "... we're both losing, and we need to talk."

Jobs also provided WWDC attendees with an overview of the company's success with its iTunes Music Store, both abroad and at home, and also mentioned AirPort Express, the forthcoming 802.11g-compliant portable base station that can also hook up directly to a home entertainment system to provide streaming music from iTunes. Jobs also profiled Apple and BMW's new iPod Your BMW interface, which enables select BMW automobiles to play iPod music and playlists through the stereo and control through the vehicle's steering wheel. "This is a really great first start and there is a lot more coming," he added.

Jobs talked about Apple's recently introduced speed bump to its Power Mac G5 line, bringing the systems up to 2.5GHz. At last year's WWDC, Jobs promised to have 3GHz systems available within a year. The PowerPC 970 architecture is a complicated chip, explained Jobs, and the semiconductor industry "hit the wall" when it transitioned to a 90 nanometer manufacturing process, he said. "IBM has done very well relative to the rest of the industry, but less than we'd hoped," said Jobs. "... We think the Power Mac is an incredibly high performance system and we'll keep striving for 3GHz."

New 20, 23, 30-inch Cinema Displays, with DVI

Jobs then introduced a new 23-inch Cinema Display to replace its current offering -- one that eschews the Apple Display Connector (ADC) interface that has been standard issue on Apple's flat panel displays for several years. The new display has a one piece aluminum stand. While the display retains a one-cable connection to the computer, it sports dual USB 2.0 ports and dual FireWire ports, and Digital Visual Interface (DVI), an industry-standard connectivity interface for digital flat panel displays. The new panel "works out of the box with your PowerBooks," said Jobs.

A new 20-inch display featuring the same industrial design has also been introduced for $1,299.

Jobs also introduced a new 30-inch display. The $3,299 display sports 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution, and works only in the Power Mac G5. It requires a new Nvidia GeForce graphics card in order to work, a $599 card that features dual-link DVI interfaces.

Panther success "an amazing accomplishment," Maya Unlimited coming

Mac OS X v10.3, code-named "Panther," has been extremely well-received since its release in 2003, according to Jobs. Apple now counts more than 12 million users using Mac OS X all together -- more than 12,000 applications have been written for the operating system, and "... we can now say that the transition is over," said Jobs. Jobs pointed to development wins with Borland, Quark, Oracle, PeopleSoft and Sun as evidence that Mac OS X has hit critical mass. Jobs then invited select developers on stage to demonstrate some of their Mac OS X applications in action.

Maya developer Alias, recently freed of ties to SGI and now operating as an independent company under the aegis of private equity firm Accel-KKR, then took the stage with the news that Mac-using 3D graphics mavens have longed for -- Maya Unlimited is coming to Mac OS X. Maya Unlimited offers all the functionality of Maya Complete, the 3D package already available for Mac OS X and other platforms, while adding Maya Fluid Effects, Maya Cloth, Maya Hair, Maya Fur and Maya Live capabilities.

Tiger: 150 new features in store for Mac OS X

The next version of Mac OS X, code-named "Tiger," will ship in the first half of 2005, according to Jobs. "Other people are trying to copy Panther," he said.

"We're having fun with that in the lobby," said Jobs, referring to promotional posters located in the Moscone West convention center that take a swipe at Microsoft's next version of Windows, code-named "Longhorn." The banners read "Introducing Longhorn," "Redmond, start your photocopiers," "This should keep Redmond busy" and "Redmond, we have a problem."

Spotlight on searching

Jobs said that Tiger will debut about 150 new features, including the ability to fully support 64-bit processes, finally make use of some of the core architectural improvements introduced last year with the PowerPC 970 CPU that serves as the heart of the Power Mac G5 system. Also new is a search technology called "Spotlight" that Jobs said "is years ahead" of Microsoft's new operating system -- it works similarly to the song search technology in iTunes, and can find files and content in standard formats. What's more, it's extensible, and works with most current applications. It's integrated into the Finder, Address Book, Mail and System Preferences.

Apple recently announced plans to roll the new H.264 video standard into QuickTime, but the company indicated that it wouldn't be coming until next year. That left some industry insiders scratching their heads, but now it's a bit clearer -- QuickTime's H.264 support will be a cornerstone technology of Tiger, according to Jobs. It's a scalable video codec that works on everything from 3G "smartphones" to high definition DVD.

RSS comes to Safari

RDF Site Summary (RSS) is an increasingly popular method that online users have of checking updated content on the Web sites they visit regularly. It's supported by many news sites, Weblogs (blogs) and others, and it's led to the development of a cottage industry of shareware and freeware RSS readers. The Tiger version of Safari, Apple's own home-grown Web browser, will sport integrated RSS aggregation including a new RSS-based search feed, according to Jobs.

Core Image and Core Video

Core Image is a new graphics processing library that will be introduced with Tiger that drew a comparison from Jobs to Core Audio, Mac OS X technology that enables developers to more easily manipulate sound and digital signal processing elements. Core Audio and its companion Core Video technology processes graphics using the Mac's graphics hardware, using floating-point precision and the ability to support real-time filters. The technology was demonstrated performing instant gaussian blurs, 3D effects like bump distortions and more using a demo application called Funhouse. Core Video was also instrumental in the development of Motion, the motion graphics design package that Apple introduced at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) 2004 trade show in April.

Dashboard, iChat and Automator

Next up was a look at Dashboard, which Jobs described as "Exposé for Widgets." The software -- unmistakably similar to a third-party shareware application called Konfabulator -- enables users to launch special-purpose "widgets" to accomplish a variety of tasks. Jobs told developers that a Software Development Kit (SDK) for Dashboard Widgets is on the way.

Automator is a new visual scripting application that enables users to teach their Macs how to repeat tasks. An on-stage demonstration showed how Automator can help families create DVDs containing photo slideshows, Web site images and more. Jobs said that an SDK for Automator would be released today.

Tiger's implementation of iChat, Apple's popular AIM-compatible instant messaging service, will support H.264, said Jobs -- that equates to higher quality video over the same bandwidth, he added. What's more, Tiger iChat will support the ability for up to 10 people to chat together in audio simultaneously. Up to three video users can chat, as well.

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