Phil Schiller opened an eagerly anticipated and speculated World Wide Developers’ Conference today standing in for a still-absent Steve Jobs. Many updates to the iPhone and Safari had been ‘pre-announced’ and Snow Leopard was always going to be a minor update so hopes were not particularly high. But in an era where Jobs sightings are few and far between and WWDCs have been offering less and less revolutionary hardware over recent years this year’s event offered a few announcements worth raising a cheer about.
My first paragraph remarks may sound a little harsh. After all it may be to Apple’s credit that the expected changes to it’s operating system and its phones are so minor when Microsoft is busy re-writing Vista and trying to convince us that Windows 7 is a completely different animal. So here is a rundown of the recent updates to the hardware and software of a company whose products actually work:
15-inch MacBook Pro
The updated MacBook Pro comes with what seems to be the same built-in, non-removable battery as in the current unibody 17-inch machine. Phil tels us that the cell will last the average user around five years (1,000 recharges), and a charge could last around seven hours under ideal conditions.
The CPU is also upgaded. Phil tells us:
There will be three standard configurations:
- $1699 (2.53GHZ, 4GB RAM)
- $1999 (2.66GHz, 4GB RAM 320GB HD)
- $2299 (2.8GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB HD)
The updated MacBook comes with the same battery as the Pro and the SD card slot. Apple has also added:
- Up to 8GB of RAM
- 50GB Storage
- Backlit keyboard
- FireWire 800 port
In addition Apple has added the 13-inch MacBook to the Pro Range.
Prices will start at $1199.
They’re also updating the Air with more aggressive configurations and prices which will now start at $1799 — $700 lower than before.
Phil boasts that these are now the greenest laptops money can buy.
Bertrand Serlet inytroduces us to Snow Leopard which enjoys a large number of tweeks but nothing revolutionary:
- Exchange support (mail, calendar, address book)
- Finder rewrite:
- Fewer wait cursors
- New eject manager
- Out of process plugins
- Faster cancellation
- Customizable search scope
- Put back from trash
- Contextual menu consistency
- Enhanced icon previews
- Faster icon drawing
- More consistent click-through
- Faster empty trash
- Icon size adjuster
- New services menu
Bertrand enthuses about some of the user interface features:
“Next up, the Dock — we’ve had a feature that we use to deal with clutter, called Expose, and now we’ve built it into the dock.”
You click and hold on an app and it automatically zooms out your active windows.
“We’ve made installs 45% faster. And after you install, you recover disk space… it’s over half the footprint of the previous version.”
Thats going to be very handy for those of us already running out of disk space.
“Preview, we’ve changed the way text selection works — we use AI to find the right text in the right place.”
Some other features:
- Handwriting recognition for the trackpad!
- Safari Is updated to version 4 on Leopard, Tiger and Windows.
- All major system apps are 64-bit
- General Central Dispatch – coordinating threads accross Leopard
Bertrand then announces OpenCL, a C-based technology that Apple claims moves beyond OpenGL and that all the major graphics card manufacturers are behind. Here’s a list:
Phil Schiller is back and announces that there are now more than 50,000 apps in the iPhone app store. He then moves onto the new OS 3.0 features
- Cut copy and paste
- Shake to undo
- Developer APIs
- Cocoa Touch support for text
- Landscape on key apps
MMS will be supported by 29 carriers when Apple launches it. Here’s another list:
- Spotlight can now search anything on your phone, including apps
- You can now use iTunes to rent and purchase movies right from your phone.
- AutoFill remembers user names and passwords to login to websites
- Tethering allows you to share you connection with your computer.
Tethering works with Macs and PCs, wired over USB, or wireless with Bluetooth. It is a seamless experience. There’s no need to run any software once it’s turned on. This requires carrier support. Apple has 22 partners in 44 countries.
Bertrand then explains a new technology to help you find a lost iPhone:
“Hopefully you haven’t had a 30 Rock experience, but this is why we created Find My iPhone. If you lose or misplace the phone, you can login to MobileMe on any browser and it will show you where the phone is. Now, if it is lost or stolen, you can send a remote wipe command which will delete all of your data.”
He demonstrates and sure enough a Google map appears showing the location of his phone.
“This is a really fast iPhone. Something as simple launching messaging, 2 times faster… everything is faster. These are all speeds against an iPhone 3G.”
If the iPhone was a car the 3GS would be the sports version. SunSpider tests show the 3GS to have less than half the rating of the 3G with 3.0.
The 3GS also comes with a brand new 3 megapixel autofocus camera (iPhone users are still getting low resolution cameras when 5MP cameras have been on phones for more than 2 years now). However — hang on to you’re hats — it records video!
“There’s another great feature — we call it voice control. You can hold down the home button, and a brand new UI pops up — the voice control interface. And talk about easy to use, the commands you make are scrolling by as you use it. You can make calls with your voice, you can control your iTunes by voice. I can ask my phone, ‘what’s playing now’ and it’ll speak the title and artist back to me.”
Phil seems to be getting into his stride:
“There’s also a built-in digital compass. The compass app is a new one that comes on the iPhone — you can tap to go right into Maps, and if you tap a second time, it will orient the map to where you’re facing.”
“And something businesses have asked for … hardware encryption. All new iPhone 3GSs will have it.”
The battery lasts for up to 5 hours 3G talk time, 9 hours of WiFI internet. The basic model comes with 16GB of storage and will retail for $199. The 32GB model will cost you $299. The original iPhone 3G will be reduced to $100.
The iPhone 3GS will be available in the US and prime export markets in a week and a half (19th June) and will be in 88 more countries by 9th August.