Macworld Expo San Francisco has come and gone, it’s time to take a look at some of this year’s highlights and standouts. From hardware to software, productivity applications to graphic design, utilities to games, there was a little something for everyone at this year’s show.
Without question, the star of the show was Apple’s new
iMac. The radically designed consumer computer eschews the previous model’s ovoid, CRT-based design for a hemispherical base and a flat screen display connected using an innovatively crafted stainless steel neck. Some pundits are already comparing the new iMac with a desk lamp. And with performance and capabilities similar to last year’s line of Power Mac G4s, the iMac has taken a huge leap in horsepower.
iPhoto was launched last week, rounding out Apple’s line of consumer iApplications. The new imaging application is a cornerstone of Apple’s “digital hub” philosophy along with iTunes, iMovie and iDVD. This innovative software enables Mac OS X users to archive, display, share and print digital images faster and easier than has been possible in the past. Archived images are saved in rolls and albums can be created in a method similar to the way iTunes manages playlists. You can even crop and trim your pictures, send them to a printing service and have them bound in a linen hardcover album for an additional price.
Mac OS X
We’ve been hearing about how Mac OS X is the future of the platform since long before the public beta version was made available at Apple Expo 2000. This was the first show that the new operating system has really taken center-stage, however. Dozens of new applications, including many from companies that haven’t exhibited at Macworld Expos in the past, were on display for showgoers. And just about every company with a presence in the Mac world has OS X apps to show or talk about.
With forthcoming product releases like LiveMotion 2.0 and GoLive 6.0 and a long-awaited clear commitment from
Adobe Vice President Shantanu Narayen that the next revision to the company’s flagship digital imaging application Photoshop will be Mac OS X-native. Adobe was back at the top of many attendee’s lists of companies to love at this year’s show. It also sharply contrasted Macworld Expo New York 2001’s event, where Adobe was absent and rival Macromedia — absent from this show — was present.
Radeon Mac Edition 8500
ATI Technologies Inc. suffered a blow this week when the new iMac was revealed to have rival graphics chipmaker Nvidia’s GeForce2 MX chip inside, ending ATI’s reign as the iMac’s graphics chip provider since the model’s introduction in 1998. Regardless, the company showed off impressive graphics capabilities on the Mac courtesy of its Radeon Mac Edition 8500 card, based ATI’s second-generation graphics processing unit. Providing performance and capabilities at least comparable to Nvidia’s GeForce3 hardware at a better price point, the Radeon 8500 Mac Edition demonstrates ATI’s continued commitment to Mac users and its strong interest in keeping the Mac retail graphics card market viable.
The area dedicated to gaming on the Mac was healthier than ever this year, with representation from every major player in the industry, as well as some new faces, like NCSoft and Bold by Destineer.
MacPlay surprised attendees (and thrilled Apple) by announcing that they’ll be going OS X only as soon as their already-announced line of products is out the door, and MacSoft and Aspyr showed off their latest crop of titles as well. And now that
GraphSim and Feral Interactive are joined at the hip for Feral’s North American distribution, we’re certain to see more good things from these two.
Retrospect 5 for Mac OS X preview
At long last,
Dantz Development Corp. released a version of Retrospect that enables Mac OS X users to backup their computers locally, rather than having to use client software to back up to a remote OS 9-equipped system. The company says that Apple’s recent changes to Mac OS X 10.1.2 gave them everything they needed to get going again; here’s to hoping the final product ships soon.
Adobe and Microsoft, look out: Everywhere you looked at this year’s show, there were cool applications being developed with Cocoa, Mac OS X’s own built-in development environment. Whether it’s the
Omni Group’s OmniWeb and OmniGraffle,
Caffeine Software’s TIFFany and PixelNhance, or dozens of other efforts, Cocoa proves that small, scrappy developers with a good idea can put together world-class applications without the huge budgets and manpower that some companies need to get the job done. Let’s hope that tons of other developers get the message and come on board with their own Cocoa efforts in the coming months.