At first the news coming out of Apple’s early-June Worldwide Developers’ Conference seemed somehow un-newsworthy. It felt like an iPhone event, and the announcements about the iPhone 3GS did rise past “cool” to the “awesome” level, although they fell short of the vaunted “insanely great” status.
On further reflection, however, there were some pretty solid improvements to the Macintosh announced at WWDC 2009. Nothing grabbed the initial headlines, but after a few weeks, the pundits started noticing that they’d missed a few, well, cool things in the computer category—hardware and software both. There were some good moves on the Apple laptops, too, a product category that is blazing hot right now with the arrival of more and better netbooks and “PC appliances.”
At the 2002 WWDC, Apple proudly announced there were 25 million OS X users. Today, the number is 75 million, meaning that a whole lot of Windows users are switching. The crunched numbers by industry analysts suggest that many Windows users like the idea of multi-OS computers, of which the Mac is the undisputed King.
Industry experts have concluded that Windows users have been moving to laptops in a big way for a few years now. Quite sensibly, then, Apple went and updated its entire laptop range. Now, it’s not as if all Apple’s decisions are based on some Windows Users Conquest Plan, but it’s not a bad game plan to keep current users happy, make the platform switch painless and you’ve got the classic win-win.
Win-winning in the laptop line
CPU speeds on the MacBook and MacBook Pros edged up slightly, but the most important change here was the migration of the new aluminum, unibody 13-incher into the MacBook Pro lineup.
This leaves a single 13-inch, white-bodied MacBook as the sole survivor in the intro-laptop line. Thankfully, the Firewire 400 port returns from its short absence.
The Pro laptops got the new, five-to-seven-year battery (not user accessible, not if you value your warranty, anyway), 4GB of base RAM, an option for a Solid State Drive (256MB) and more powerful Nvidia graphics. The 17-inch is the only one to retain the ExpressCard slot, as the other models are now sporting a SecureDigital slot, and the big boy of the bunch also keeps his top-of-spec Firewire 800 port. The fact is, any top computer rental company will stock a solid mix of classic, recent and brand-new models, since different configurations (especially connection ports) make certain models preferable for certain tasks. Supplying the entertainment industry with rentals, CRE is ready to configure a system to any and every particular need. Just ask!
The inside story: OS news
By all accounts, Snow Leopard, Apple Macintosh OS X 10.6, appears to be a large-scale optimization of Leopard. It takes up a whopping 6GB less hard drive space and is faster at everything.
Along with a new Dock and Service Manager, Safari 4 (free and available now for Windows and Mac) has been beefed up and given iTunes-style visual bling. There are so many upgrades announced for Quicktime X—cropping, screencasts, direct upload to YouTube, etc.—that some are guessing that the QuicktimePro application is history. Other powerful features will touch just about every nook and cranny of the Mac system, teaming a slicker, smarter OS with ever-more-powerful processors to make work faster of even the most demanding tasks.
Forget RAM limitations, folks. Snow Leopard will theoretically support and access up to 16 billion GB of RAM, and will leverage graphics-card horsepower to help the CPU by way of OpenCL technology. With these and other evolving standards and components, the last bastions of time-intensive computing—science and math, video and film editing, rendering, audio recording and 3D modeling—will be falling like bowling pins as the fast Macs keep rolling along. And remember—we keep them rolling right out of here, delivered where you need them and when you need them, too.