Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Apple's OS announcements (and non announcements)

Hmmm. So, after Jobs keynote, the stock fell, and Leander Kehney in Wired called it, "the most uninspiring he's given in recent memory" ... "one yawn after another." John Budreau in the hometown paper found an analyst who gave him a money quote: "breathtaking." Om Malik covers the net-centric features destined to suck up even broader bandwidth.

I'll give you Mickeleh's Take on the OS announcements below, but if you want your keynote relatively unfiltered, Ryan Block at Engadget did a fine job posting a richly illustrated report from the Steve Jobs keynote. It's nearly a verbatim transcipt with lots of photos of the of the slides. (Steve always has the world's best slides.) Apple has a streaming QuickTime of the session--but they don't have enough server capacity to meet current demand. So far, I haven't been able to get it to run.

The new HW configs are strong, up to two 3G dual core Intel blah blah blahs. etc. With this announcement, Apple completes it's transition to Intel processors. I expect that a lot of high-end customers have been deferring purchases, waiting for these babies. They will sell almost as fast as they run. (The enclosures look very much like the G5s overall, but they've had major redesign to increase expandability: more ports in front, more drives inside. Actually, they've gone forward to the past: restoring the previous G4 ability to house four internal hard drives and two optical drives.) Plus new Xserve, and lower prices for displays.

The bulk of the keynote was a preview of the next major release of Mac OS X, named for (get ready) a big cat. This time, it's Leopard. (Are they running low on big cat names? Within the Panthera genus, the only one left is Lion. But some of the small cats like are pretty big, like Lynx, and Puma, so we can probably get through the decade before Apple is forced to bid for the Mr. Bigglesworth brand.)

A few bits stand out.

Time Machine looks like Apple finally has done back-up for the rest of us. It is not only painless backup, but it's an infinite undelete. So if you've ever mistakenly thrown away valuable files, or want to revert to some previous version of a file, it's all there. Best visual and motion metaphors for time travel since Irwin Allen's Time Tunnel. (Yes, Microsoft has "previous versions" in Vista. But it's done in Windows style. Feh.)

Mail IMHO is a bunch of tarty features in search of a purpose.

iChat takes video-chat over a new threshold. The videophone has existed in fantasy and science fiction for more than a century, and in technology marketing since 1964. In reality, not so much. Two people staring at each other while they talk--turns out to be much less useful than a telephone. On the phone, we all have Harry Potter's invisibiliy cloak and we love it. (fess up--if only to yourself--what are you actually doing when you talk on the phone?) But now... with desksharing features, photo and presentation features, video-chat becomes more than a telephone, not less. (There's even a version of a feature that was first demo'd in Mad Magazine back in the fifties: phoney picture-phone backdrops.) Now it gets interesting.

Core Animation may be the most dangerous of all the previewed features. It simplifies the process of developing rich, layered animation effects within the Mac environment. Apple used it to support the motion design for Spaces and Time Machine. And now, they're putting this power in the hands of people who may not have quite the same level of design sensibility. Anyone remember Font Abuse?

Spaces is already being tagged as a copy of virtual desktop (versions are built into Windows, Unix, and available for Mac OS X from CodeTek Studios, who can't be too happy to see Spaces.) We'll see. It's all in the details of how it's implemented. Lots of folks who were skeptical about Exposé became fans once they began using it. Good bet that Apple has done this well.

iCal gets slick, rich collaboration features—and interoperability with CalDAV standards (whatever they are), but no mention of interoperability with Exchange.

Jobs announced that he was holding back some of the top secret goodies. Most obvious for its absence was an updated Front Row U-I for ten-foot navigation of media files. Most observers expect Apple to make some very aggressive moves into the portable and home media spaces over the coming year. Although Valleywag got all Valleywaggish over the particulars, Scoble was undoubtedly correct to say that the folks at Apple, "are readying a dizzying amount of new products."

Developers attending WWDC are warned not to blog about any details beyond the keynote.

(Tags: Apple, Mac, WWDC, Jobs)


Super Dave said...

Regarding Mail, I really think the point of showing all those features (with the exception of HTML templates) was to show developers that there is a backend for notes and to dos just like for addresses and calendar events. This allows developers to put a "to do" button in their apps to attach their files to be followed up on. And also to allow quick access to notes in appropriate applications.

Still though, I honestly like that these are in Mail. I too send too much mail to myself and/or am too lazy to launch stickies or iCal, so this will be likely where 90% of my planning gets done.

Nonetheless, this was more to show and help developers than you or me.

Mickeleh said...

You may well be right about mail. For me, though, it's so poisoned by spam that I find it hard to take seriously.