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Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote address to attendees of Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco kicked off with a video of John Hodgman, better known to Mac enthusiasts as the PC in the recent spate of Mac versus PC television ads.
Hodgman told developers to take the rest of the year off and perhaps help with Windows Vista, and began to remark on Vista’s features — such as its Dashboard widget-like Gadgets, Aero user interface and more, when he’s caught by Justin Long — the Mac in those same ads.
“Good morning and welcome to WWDC 06,” said Steve Jobs as the crowd applauded. “Thank you so much for coming. We’ve got a great week for you.
Jobs told attendees that this year’s WWDC has once again broken attendance records — 4,400 developers registered for the event, from 48 different countries.
“All of you are part of over three quarters of a million registered developers for the Mac now,” Jobs said.
Moving to the company’s retail efforts, Jobs said that Apple now has 157 stores, and in the last fiscal quarter alone hosted more than 17 million visitors. Of those buying a Mac, 50 percent are new to the platform, said Jobs, repeating a figure offered by Apple VP Tim Cook during the company’s the most recent call with financial analysts. That’s moderately higher than it’s been in past years, which suggests that people are indeed switching from the PC to the Mac.
“… and even closer to your hearts, in the last 12 months we have sold half a billion dollars in third party products,” he concluded.
Exit Power Mac, enter Mac Pro
“Well, today, the Power Mac is going to fade into history,” said Jobs. Apple VP of worldwide sales and marketing Phil Schiller joined Jobs on stage to introduce its replacement.
Schiller introduced the Intel Xeon-based Mac Pro. The processors that power the Mac Pro are Intel’s “Woodcrest” design — dual core processors at speeds up to 3GHz.
Schiller said they have 4MB shared Level 2 caches and 128-bit vector engines that replace the “Velocity Engines” found in Power Mac G5 systems. And they’re 64-bit.
“These are great microprocessors, and they deliver tremendous performance per watt,” said Schiller, who added that power consumption is important both in notebooks and thin desktops. Xeons, said Schiller, offer up to three times the performance per watt than a G5.
“In every Mac Pro we’re going to put two of them,” said Schiller. All Mac Pros, said Schiller, will feature quad Xeon performance.
Each microprocessor gets its own 1.33GHz Front Side Bus (FSB), with 21 gigabyte per second (GB/s) processor bandwidth. The processors are fed by four-channel, 256-bit 667MHZ memory, up to 16GB in the system. That’s twice as wide as the memory bus in a G5 and faster.
With better performance per watt, Apple can reduce the cooling inside the Mac Pro case, so they now support up to 4 drives for up to 2 terabytes (TB) of internal storage, as well as dual optical drive bays.
The Mac Pro also features two USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 ports on the front. And while the enclosure is clearly based on the Power Mac G5 chassis, the internal architecture is entirely new. The system features a new drive carrier that’s similar in implementation to the the Xserve — drives are inserted and snap right in.
The standard configuration features two 2.66GHz dual-core Xeon processors, 1GB of 667MHz memory, 250GB storage, Nvidia GeForce 7300GT graphics with 256MB VRAM and a 16x SuperDrive optical drive, priced at $2,499.
“This is a great product to bust the myth of Apple’s computers being more expensive,” said Schiller, demonstrating by pricing a similar configuration from Dell for about $1,000 more.
Apple is also offering build-to-order configurations clocked at 2, 2.6 and 3GHz, with up to 16GB RAM, 2TB storage, upgraded Radeon X1900 XT or Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 video.
The new Mac Pro is shipping today, said Schiller.
“There is one other product that you don’t think of as a Mac, but it’s really important to our product line, and that’s Xserve,” said Schiller.
Apple’s new Xserve is still a 1U rack-mountable server. Like the Mac Pro, it’s built on the Intel Xeon, using two of the dual-core processors, and it’s up to five times faster, depending on the applications you run, said Schiller.
“Thanks to better thermal performance, we get to add redundant power and storage up to 2.25 terabytes,” said Schiller. What’s more, Apple has added software for lights out management.
Schiller revealed that the new Xserve is coming in October, equipped with 1GB of RAM and 80GB of storage for $2,999. With that, he left the stage and returned control to Steve Jobs.
Mac OS X
Jobs called the transition to Intel-compatible operating system software “not easy, but they made it look really easy. Under the hood, this was 86 million lines of source code that was ported to run on an entirely different architecture with zero hiccups. Pretty amazing.”
There are now more than 3,000 Universal applications, said Jobs. “All of us at Apple would like to say, thank you guys. You guys have done a phenomenal job in 210 days getting your applications shipping Universal.”
Next up on stage was Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Bertrand Serlet. Serlet opened with a salvo aimed straight at Microsoft, showing a series of screenshots comparing Tiger with Microsoft’s forthcoming operating system, Vista.
“You may think I took the Windows logo and embedded a nice Aqua bubble on top, but no. That’s the actual logo. But underneath it all, it’s still Windows,” said Serlet. It still has the registry at its core, and it has this well-loved feature that’s called activation.”
Showing a fat Elvis impersonator, Serlet said, “You can imitate, but it’s never quite as good.”
Ten new things in Leopard, coming in Spring 2007
Jobs explained to developers that some top secret features in Leopard won’t be revealed, but Apple wants them to know about them in preparation for a Spring 2007 launch. “We don’t want our friends in Redmond to start their photocopiers just yet,” he added. With that, Jobs introduced Scott Forestall, Apple’s vice president of Platform Experience.
Forestall told the crowd that Leopard will have support for 64-bit applications. “We’ve now got 64-bit Unix,” he explained. “In Leopard, take this a giant leap forward with 64-bit Carbon and Cocoa, all the way to your applications. You can have fully native 64-bit UI Carbon or Cocoa applications.”
“Time Machine” is Apple’s second major feature for Leopard. Forestall explains that it was developed to help users back up effortlessly. He pointed to estimates that only about four percent of users are utilizing automated software for backing up important files — only a quarter of users back up in any way whatsoever on a regular basis.
“Time Machine” automatically backs up your Mac, said Forestall. “If you change a file, that file is backed up. We back up everything…that means we can restore everything. If your hard drive dies, you can buy a new hard drive, put it in your machine, and be right back where you were.”
Forestall said that Time Machine supports hard drives and servers, and will automatically configure a hard drive for back up once plugged in. What’s more, and the reason it’s called Time Machine, is that it gives you version control, so you can recover specifically saved versions of files as well.
Forestall demonstrated Time Machine as an application resident in the Dock that displays your timeline. Sliding the timeline reveals your machine as it was — one, two or more days ago, flying you through finder windows so you can find the document you’re working with. Double clicking on the file shows a preview; clicking the Restore button brings that file back to your Mac. In addition to the Finder, it can work with other applications, such as Address Book. It’s also something that will be open to third-party developers. The demo gods didn’t smile on Forestall unequivocally, however: His demo crashed.
“We’re going to deliver the Complete Package,” said Jobs of the third major item on the Leopard list of new features.
“We’ve got applications as beta, applications as separate downloads, we’re going to ship all of them with Leopard,” he added.
Jobs told the crowd that Boot Camp, Apple’s software that enables Intel-based Macs to run Windows, “… is going to be even better than the beta, and it’s going to ship as part of Leopard.”
Leopard will also include Front Row, Apple’s software to access media such as photos, music, movies and downloaded videos from a single interface that’s easy to view in a living room or media room. Photo Booth, Apple’s software that turns the iSight webcam into a fun and creative imaging tool, will expand the number of cameras it works with.
“Four. This is a big one,” said Jobs. “We call it Spaces.”
Jobs described Spaces as “a new way of working on your Mac” that lets you take collections of applications that you use to accomplish tasks and “create a space for them to be in” then rapidly switch between them. It sits as an icon in the Dock.
Jobs demonstrated Spaces being used with collections like Mail and Safari, GarageBand and iTunes. With the press of a key, the entire user interface slid left, right, up and down. Another Space contained Final Cut — clicking on an icon in the Dock automatically switched to its layer.
Forestall told developers that Leopard’s implementation of Spotlight expands the search engine’s scope to other Macs on the network, with users’ permission, of course. Leopard Spotlight will also gain advanced syntax searches with support for Boolean expressions and file type in search queries. Leopard Spotlight adds an application launcher, also.
Core Animation is the sixth major bullet point for Leopard revealed to developers at WWDC. With it, you can “dramatically increase the product value of your application,” said Forestall. Using Core Animation, developers can create a “Scene” comprising layers, which can contain text, images, video or OpenGL content. “You define a start state, a goal state and possibly keyframes in between.”
Forestall demonstrated Core Animation by creating a demo using iTunes album art flipping around that is similar to Apple’s recent iTunes television ad, showing a city being built of album art then funneling into an iPod. All of it was created live, using Core Animation.
Apple is improving Leopard’s universal access, for users with physical disabilities, said Jobs. Braille support is being added, along with closed captioning support in QuickTime. VoiceOver has been overhauled, according to Jobs, who also demonstrated dramatically improved text-to-speech technology.
Mail is getting some major enhancements in Leopard, said Jobs. It will add Stationery — HTML-based mail templates; Notes, which lets you add a special message type that lives in a special Notes mailbox; and To Do’s — which lets you select anything and make it a To Do, complete with priority, due dates, alarms and more.
To Do’s are, in fact, a new type of Service offered in Leopard that any application can tie into. “One systemwide to-do service, where everything is kept track of,” said Jobs.
A more user-oriented feature in Leopard Dashboard is called Web Clip. “We’ve come up with a way where anyone can take any part of a Web page into a widget,” explained Scott Forestall. He demonstrated the technology by using Web Clip to make an automatically updating comic strip panel widget; eBay auction and more.
Once more Jobs took the stage to introduce the tenth new Leopard feature: What he called “a seriously enhanced iChat.”
iChat will support multiple login, invisibility, animated Buddy icons and video recording, said Jobs, as well as tabbed chat.
“But we want to go further than this,” he added. With many new Macs shipping with iSight cameras and video conferencing available right out of the box, Apple wants users to have fun, too. So with Leopard iChat, users can add Photo Booth effects to video conferencing. What’s more, iChat Theater lets you show slides in your video conferencing while you’re talking — Phil Schiller, offstage, demonstrated the new technology by having a video conference with Jobs via iChat, playing an iPhoto slideshow, Keynote presentation and video. In each case, his image slid to the left while a large area next to him displayed the slideshow.
Backdrops is a new feature of iChat similar to video blue or green screening. You step out of the frame, and iChat “learns” your background. When you step back in, you can replace the background with anything you want. You can also insert video-based backgrounds.
Recapping these ten major new features in Leopard, Jobs also indicated that Leopard will feature dramatically enhanced parental controls, though he didn’t offer more specific information.
Developers will also be able to get their hands on Xcode 3, a new version of Apple’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for developing Mac OS X software.
“We want to get it in your hands as soon as possible. The Developer preview is in your hands today,” concluded Jobs. “We plan to get it done with Leopard and ship it this coming Spring.”