Mac OS X Lion, FaceTime And The New MacBook Air, Oh My
Apple’s October surprise came and went, and I watched it live…well, most of it. The first 45 minutes of Apple’s hour and 30 minute presentation was about iLife ’11, which frankly, was boring. The big news came after one hour in. A sneak peak at Mac OS X Lion, the new MacBook Airs, and FaceTime for the Mac. I won’t bore you with my praise. Read on for the straight dope in bullet-point form…
FaceTime For Mac: It’s about time. It was rumored as soon as the iPhone came out that Apple would do this, and it’s a logical step. It makes using your iPhone 4’s more useful because — let’s ‘face’ it (haha!) — how often have you used FaceTime? With a Mac as a “home-base” of sorts, I could see road-warrior iPhone users calling home to chat with family and friends who have a Mac. Much more practical and useful. Smart move, Apple.
The New Macbook Air: It’s also about time. The Air was neglected for a while, as rumors swirled about all sorts of things, including a Mac Netbook. Well, the closest thing you’ll ever get to a Mac Netbook is here, with both versions of the Macbook Air. Sporting a SSD hard drive, super-thin design (.66 inches at it’s thickest) and high resolution screens, both the 13 and the 11 inch Airs are gorgeously designed for 30 days of standby use, and 5-7 hours of web browsing. Basically, the road-warrior’s dream. Jobs detailed that the Air’s non-moving parts, SSD and light weight use were part of their long battery life, and also said the new Airs were what Apple thought about when “A MacBook and an iPad hooked-up.” Yes, chuckles ensued. The 11 inch starts at $999, with 64GB of flash-drive space, with incremental $200 increases for more space, or just go with the 13 inch with 128GB of flash-drive space, which starts at $1299.
Mac OS X Lion: Jobs explained that Apple’s tests indicated that multi-touch stinks when it’s vertical. No one likes reaching out to touch a monitor. Your arm gets fatigued. But Apple wanted multi-touch innovation in Mac OS X. Lion includes a brand new trackpad and touchpad enabled-feature called “Mission Control” along with “Launch Pad” which replaces Dashboard. Mission Control combines Expose, Spaces and Dashboard all into one central location. It’ll show you all your windows, let you switch to widgets, and manage your desktop. Launch Pad essentially acts like the iPad and iPhone “springboard” for your Mac, letting you create pages and folders for your exiting Mac Apps as you would on your iPad or iPhone. The real beauty of Lion, says Jobs, is the full-screen app features. Apple showed off a PDF, which instantly goes full screen when asked to, and allows for smooth scrolling through pages (with touch of course). A multi-touch gesture brings us back to a clean desktop, and another one brings us to Mission Control, where we can see everything. It was an impressive demo. Click the Mac OS X Lion link to get a real idea of what I’m talking about. It’s hard to explain in words. Best worth seeing.
But Lion is coming with one more interesting feature. Jobs was so stoked about the AppStore success, they wanted to do one with the Mac, so they did. The Mac AppStore does exactly what you think it does. It’s an online web portal, like iTunes, where you can buy and download Mac apps. Apple has the same 70/30% split, and soon plans on telling developers soon how to get in on it. Apps that are downloaded pop right into your dock. It works — again — just like the iPad or iPhone. Jobs says that in 90 days, the Mac AppStore will be available on Snow Leopard, before Lion’s mid-2011 debut. (Check back in the near future, for a full-on critique of this new way to get desktop apps.)
Here’s what this blogger thinks you should do. If you care about Lion and the future, go buy Apple’s Magic Trackpad. The Lion demo was shown off using a Magic Mouse, and it looked as though there were many 3-4 finger gestures involved (that were not pulled off the first time) which would be much easier to accomplish with a trackpad.
But there’s a bigger question: How many users out there want touch on their desktop? I do, but how about your customers?