Come for the OS X beta launch; stay for the new iBooks.
Steve Jobs didn’t disappoint when he announced that a public beta for
Apple’s next-generation operating system is now shipping as promised. But
the Apple CEO also had a surprise up his sleeve at Wednesday’s Apple Expo
keynote speech — a new line of FireWire-ready iBooks in up-to-date-colors.
The OS X beta release was entirely expected; Jobs announced it would be out
by September 13 during his Seybold keynote speech two weeks ago. The only real
OS X news on Wednesday concerned pricing and availability: Apple will charge
$30 for the beta, which is available through the company’s online store.
“We’ve held this in our hands for a long time,” Jobs said. “Starting today,
we want you to have it in yours.”
(Don’t despair, all you Mac users stuck back in the United States. Unlike the keynote at New
York’s Macworld Expo, where Apple handed out free Apple Pro mice to anyone
in attendance, there were no OS X giveaways at this speech. The beta is
available at the Paris exhibition hall, but we have to pay the same $30 that
you do to get it.)
There’s nothing in the public beta that hasn’t been announced before. It
includes Open GL support, full Java 2 implementation, symmetric
multiprocessing, an instantaneous wake feature for sleeping PowerBooks, a
new Finder, a pro mode that turns off the colors in the Aqua interface, and
a retooled Dock. (For an in-depth look at the OS X beta and its features, see ”
X Arrives: Inside Mac OS X Beta.”)
“We finally have the underpinnings of a super modern kernel so that we can
now make the Mac OS super robust,” Jobs said.
A Slice of Key Lime
The OS X beta release may have grabbed all the pre-keynote attention. But
the announced revisions to the iBook line caused just as much a stir.
The latest iBooks will now support FireWire; that’s been the most requested
feature for the iBook, Jobs says. The laptops will also ship with iMovie
2.0, continuing Apple’s push into the digital-video market.
Like their iMac compatriots, the new iBooks also sport a different look. The
laptops now come in indigo — the dark blue shade added to the iMac line this
summer — and key lime, a bright green hue that’s sure to wow the die-hard Mac crowd just as it’s certain to give fits to people who dismiss the iBook as a candy-colored toy.
Featuring 366MHz G3 processors and 64MB of RAM, the indigo and key lime
iBooks sell for $1,499. The key lime model sells exclusively at Apple’s
Apple also tweaked the Special Edition model iBooks, adding a DVD-drive. In
addition to graphite, the iBook SE also now comes in key lime. It sells for
Jobs boasted that the changes to the iBook line in addition to the overhaul
of the desktop products this summer give his company “the strongest product
line that Apple has ever had.”
Power Mac G4 buyers will now get a choice in what graphics processor is
included in their computer. For an extra $100, G4 users can order ATI’s
Radeon processor, which Jobs billed as “possibly the fastest graphics chip
in the land.”
A demo during the keynote certainly backed that claim up. Jobs showed Quake
III Arena running on a computer with ATI’s Rage 128 processor and one with
Radeon. The Radeon-backed G4 left the Rage 128 in the dust.
Radeon features 32MB of DRAM, carries both VGA and ADC connectors, and
supports Apple DVD Player software.
ATI’s presence in Jobs’s speech marks something of a reconciliation between
Apple and its long-time partner. ATI found itself in Apple’s doghouse at
July’s Macworld Expo after the company prematurely issued a press release
that announced Apple’s new hardware before Jobs had the chance in his
keynote. Never one to be upstaged, Jobs dropped all mention of ATI from his
July address to the Mac faithful.