WWDC '06 Info Thoughts and Links

Monday, 2006-08-07; 19:00:00

So Steve's keynote is over, and now we have the long wait 'til... Spring '07?! Bah! I was hoping for a December '06 or January '07 release for Tiger. But anyway, there are some interesting things about the announcements today, which I present in no particular order:

Mac Pros: Wow, the expansion has been dramatically enhanced. Four hard drive bays up from two, two optical drive bays up from one, and 4 PCI slots, but now with a double-wide slot so you don't lose a slot for ridiculously huge graphics cards. That quells some serious complaints I've heard about the PowerMac G5.

Also, do note that the price increase isn't as dramatic as it seems. The previous base system cost $1,999. Now the base model (in fact, the only standard model) is $2,499, and this is for a Quad system. But, if you build to order, you can shave $375 off that price by stepping down to a 2.0 GHz Quad Xeon system (instead of 2.66 GHz), and stepping down to a 160 GB hard drive from a 250 GB hard drive. Unfortunately, you'll have to live with the 1 GB of RAM that Apple gives you, because that's the absolute least that Apple will install with your new Mac Pro. (The previous base system -- in fact, all previous standard configs -- only included a paltry 512 MB of RAM). So I'd bet that if you could downgrade to 512 MB of RAM, you'd probably get down to $1,999. That means the Mac Pros are not more expensive, when similarly configured.

One last thing: Apple is seriously streamlined the pro desktop lineup. There is now only one standard config, which means that if you want anything other than the standard specs, you should order it from the Apple online store. Also, take a look at the Mac Pro box (see the right sidebar a little bit down the page): they've slimmed it down, just like they have with many of their other offerings. I've been really impressed with the size of Apple's packaging lately: .mac, iLife, iWork, Mac OS X, and even the full-size iPod come in boxes that are just as large as a standard CD sleeve (but thicker, obviously). My bro's MacBook Pro has a box that's really thin -- a little thicker than two iPod boxes placed on top of each other. And then the Mac mini's packaging is ridiculously small too. I guess it makes sense, since Apple is shipping more Macs and wants to reduce its costs.

Xserve: Blah blah blah blah redundant power supplies. That's really the only surprising thing. And it's also been an oft-requested feature. Another benefit of the Intel transition.

OMG OMG OMG OMG LEOPARD OMG OMG OMG OMG! Woo! This was the thing that I was really excited about, and with the 10 features that were publicly demonstrated, there were some seriously cool features. My reaction, in order.

64-bit: Cool. Native, 64-bit Carbon/Cocoa frameworks.

Time Machine: I admit it, I don't backup. I should, but I don't. Time Machine looks cool, looks functional, and also is surprisingly context-sensitive. I find it really cool and useful that Time Machine will look back in time based on the frontmost window -- so if you think you had something there before but now you don't, time machine will specifically show you that spot. There's no need to do a random search for a word in the name or the contents. Cool.

Also regarding Time Machine, apparently you can have it backup your drive before installing Leopard! Cool! It uses external drives (no word on whether you can non-destructively repartition your internal drive to make a backup partition), too. Supposedly, if your main drive dies, you can get a new drive, pop it in your computer, and then get back up and running where you were without any manual restoring?!? That's what was said in the keynote, anyway. If that's true, that's seriously cool, especially if it saves your preferences and all that stuff -- supposedly it saves everything.

Lastly, I really hope that the interface is totally keyboard accessible. Unlike *coughDashboardcough*. Please stop with the ridiculously cool looking interfaces that need to be navigated by mouse, Apple. Although, in Dashboard's defense, it's not exactly something that you would normally interact with via the keyboard.

The whole package: Pff. SHOW US Front Row 2.0 and Photo Booth 2.0. Would've also been annoying if they didn't include it.

Spaces: Blah blah blah virtual desktops blah blah blah. The only reason I really care about this is that it will finally silence those annoying whiners who constantly clamor for this with every release.

Spotlight: What it should have been from the start. Boolean search operators... *GASP*. Searching network drives and other computers... *GASP*. Faster responsiveness... *GASP*. About that last one -- MacFixIt says that performance is dramatically enhanced on Intel-based Macs; and that's not just the searching, but the speed at which menus and windows appear. I hope that holds true for PPC-based Macs, too, especially 64-bit ones. I wanted to use Spotlight as an app-launcher, but it's just too slow in Tiger. That was touted as a feature of Spotlight in the keynote.

As a minus: Spotlight needs to reindex your drive upon installing Leopard. The Spotlight index in Tiger is not compatible with Leopard. WTF?! I guess, all in the name of progress, but still. Kind of annoying.

Core Animation: Cool. Doubt I'll ever use it, though.

Universal Access: FINALLY A NEW DAMNED NATURAL SOUNDING TEXT-TO-SPEECH VOICE. Sheesh. I like how they're showcasing accessibility, though -- makes the users who appreciate those features feel like an integral part of the Mac community.

Mail: Blah blah blah stationery to dos notes blah blah blah. Requisite whining from everybody in the Mac community about how "ugly" the Mail toolbar icons are. Me not caring.

Dashboard: BLAH BLAH BLAH widgets Web Clip Dashcode BLAH BLAH BLAH

iChat: This is cool. Photo Booth and backdrop effects are pretty much gimmicks. But the iChat Theater thing is pretty cool. Present a slideshow or a keynote presentation by iChat. Also, you can share your screen via iChat! Woot! (Interestingly, you can also control someone else's screen via iChat -- yay base Apple Remote Desktop features!) The only thing that's missing is a NetScrawl-esque feature, which is basically a sketching program that both you and any number of buddies can draw on. It was also rumored to be added in Leopard, so I'm still hoping.

iCal (not talked about in keynote): Blah blah blah blah .mac not required. That is, Leopard Server now supports the CalDAV standard so that you can collaboratively edit calendars. Now a replacement for Outlook, it seems, since Microsoft axed that a year or two ago. One less reason to need Windows; always a plus.

Xcode (not talked about in keynote): First, why the heck wasn't this talked about in the keynote of a developer's conference? But anyway: somewhere I read that Xcode 3.0 now supports Step Back while debugging. I can't find the link now -- was this my imagination? Objective-C garbage collection is also cool, although I imagine I will still use the standard retain-release method of containing memory leaks.

Besides the keynote stream, live text coverage of the keynote (a.k.a. searchable keynote), and Apple's Leopard sneak preview page (which includes movies of the features), MacFixIt talks about specific, smaller features all across Leopard, and about Safari 3.0 in particular. There's also the "secret" Xcode 3.0 sneak peek page as well as the Mac OS X Leopard Server sneak peek pages. (Not sure why Podcast Producer is part of Leopard Server, though, rather than Leopard client.)

Did anyone else get the distinct impression that Steve Jobs is grooming Scott Forstall, VP of Platform Experience, to become the next CEO of Apple? This is just total wild speculation, but the mannerisms that Forstall used are precisely what Jobs uses. Watch the keynote stream: the things that Forstall demoed seemed like just the features that Jobs would have wanted to demo, and there was no rhyme or reason to which features Forstall showcased and which ones Jobs did. Forstall also seems to use many of the same pauses that Jobs does to increase importance, has the same tempered sentimentalness with regards to photos, and does the same tell-them-what-you're-going-to-tell-them-then-tell-them-then-tell-them-what-you-told-them style of presenting.

Forstall even used the exact same "That's what we have backups for" quip that Jobs used at MacWorld earlier this year when a demo didn't go quite right.

I really love the fact that Apple is actively taking potshots at Redmond. "Hasta la vista, Vista" (photos) [UPDATE 2: clear photo of the banner] practically writes itself, but for Apple to publicly use that on banners at WWDC is quite bold. "Mac OS X Leopard / Introducing Vista 2.0" (photos) is also classic. [UPDATE: Apparently there's a third: "Redmond has a cat, too. A copycat."]

But what I liked best were the keynote potshots. The keynote is introduced by John Hodgman of the Get A Mac ad campaign, who urges developers to take the rest of the year off and to help Microsoft complete Vista (0'24). And then Bertrand Serlet does a complete presentation talking solely about how Microsoft is copying Tiger in Vista, and shows some pretty ridiculous screenshots that demonstrate how close the UIs for various parts of the operating system are (24'47).

The keynote stream is tough to download right now and constantly craps out, so in a few hours take a look at those two parts of the keynote (if not the whole thing). They're hilarious.

[UPDATE 2: Some other funny things...

"Veni. Vidi. Codi," T-shirt slogan. OK that just rocks. And CARS' live keynote coverage:

Speaking of eye candy, Steve's now talking about Spaces, a new virtual desktop environment that will put all the other virtual desktop environments out of business.

Kinda surprised Arlo Rose wasn't working on one.


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