Technology

Quick Thoughts on the Apple Press Event

Apple’s press event today contained virtually no true surprises, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some good stuff here for any tech enthusiast to get excited  about.

New iMac

The new iMac is very similar in form to its predecessor but just a tad sleeker. They took a good design and made it better. Just for reference, here’s a picture of the previous model and the new side by side.

I’m not too sure what else to write about this upgrade. The specs are nice, and the prices are even better than before – especially on the higher end models. I’ve already written a bit about the new keyboard. I like the looks, but I’d definitely want to get my hands on one before purchasing. (But it would look nice attached to my old but reliable PowerMac G5…)

The only weird bit is the wireless version of the keyboard. It has no number pad. Its layout is basically that of a laptop keyboard – which is what I primarily use. However, some consumers and business folks might not like that.

the wireless keyboard

iLife ’08

This came as a surprise to me because I really wasn’t expecting iLife to be upgraded until Leopard came out this October. Among other improvements, iPhoto has gained the ability to automatically show or hide given photos in your library. It has a new organization option called “Events,” and it has gained the ability to publish to a [dot] Mac web gallery with some sleek effects.

iDVD has received some new themes and better encoding while iMovie looks like a whole new application (with a new icon even). It can now manage videos (a la iPhoto) as well as create. iMovie integrates with [dot] Mac and YouTube, and it features a retooled interface for making movie creation even easier. I guess Apple felt like they needed to do something new with this app since Windows Movie Maker was so capably aping it!

iMovie

iWeb has seen some basic improvements in theme handling, and it now supports personal domains. It features Google Maps and Adsense integration as well as Web Widgets – showcasing content from other sites like Twitter, Flickr, etc. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the blogging component has received much attention based on the website. Finally, GarageBand comes with new arranging and automation capabilities as well as a new visual equalizer. Magic GarageBand is a new mode that allows you to quickly experiment with and create new music.

In all, the upgrades are pretty small, but the enhancements to iMovie seem worth the price alone.

iWork ’08

This was another upgrade that I thought would not be coming until after Leopard (and one I’ll be posting some more on after I finish downloading the 469 MB demo). It turns out, according to John Gruber, iWork installs the Leopard ImageKit for Tiger users. I wonder if any other apps can take advantage of ImageKit once it’s there.

Keynote features new path animations (huzzah), new text effects, transitions, and themes, and it has a new feature called Instant Alpha that is supposed to remove the background from an image. I’m assuming the background needs to be solid, but I’ll find out when I start playing around. Pages seems to have borrowed a trick from Microsoft with contextual toolbars. It also features separate modes for word processing and page layout, and its tracking feature is now compatible with Word.

the new contextual toolbar

The big news in iWork is a new spreadsheet application called Numbers that claims Excel compatibility. It features the same simple interface as Keynote and Pages, and it offers flexible ways to analyze variable in your data to see instantaneous results. I’m going to be doing a lot of spreadsheet work this coming school year, so this application really intrigues me.

Numbers

Other Updates

A few other products got quiet upgrades today. The Mac mini was boosted to Core 2 Duo processors and 1 GB of default memory. Airport Extreme received gigabit ethernet. [dot] Mac storage was bumped to 10 GB (from 1 GB) with 100 GB of monthly data transfer as well as new web gallery support and server-side spam filtering, which should make some iPhone users happier. Finally, the MacPro gets a new PCI RAID option for those of you with an extra $999 laying around.

All in all, it’s been a busy day in Apple product news. My favorite bits are the iWork upgrade and the new iMac, but I’m also happy about the bumped [dot] Mac storage. I’ll be back on in a couple of days with some iWork ’08 impressions!

all images in this post are courtesy Apple, Inc.

Advertisements