WWDC09 Keynote – Hardware and Software updates both now and on the way.

Well, the WWDC Keynote has now come and gone. While His Steveness wasn’t in attendance (at least not on camera), Uncle Phil managed to deliver a plate full of Apple goodness to us, no matter what you’re into.

Hardware

Time for an update across the MacBook & MacBook Pro families. Let’s start out with the one that caught my attention.

MacBook Pro 15″
Well, they got rid of the removable battery and have changed over to the same setup that’s in the 17″. This isn’t really all that surprising, as it keeps specs in line with the 17″ version. More surprising is the change in slots – we lose an Express Slot but gain an SD slot. This is great if you have a camera that uses SD cards, but it’s pretty darn crummy if you want to hook up drives via eSATA.

It seems they’ve improved the display a little bit and, as expected, there’s a little bit of a speed bump up to 3.06 GHz, but what’s that? A price drop!?!?! Starting at $1699… wow! Now I only have to sell one kidney to afford one.

MacBook Pro 17″
Less excitement here; No new features, but at least you get to keep your Express slot. Price drop here, too – looks like those recent Microsoft ads are having more effect than people would have you believe…

Unibody 13″
The biggest changes seem to have come for the 13″ Unibody MacBook. It’s got the same battery upgrade as the 15″, but it also gained the SD slot, where nothing existed before. The big news, however is that it gained back the one thing it was missing before – FireWire!!!

Yes, it seems Apple has heard our pleas and has added a FireWire 800 port. Though not eSATA speeds, at least FW800 is faster than USB 2.0.

Since the addition of FireWire 800 puts its features on par with the MacBook Pro line, the 13″ Unibody MacBooks have been reclassified – they are now the 13” MacBook Pros. Even with that “promotion” these guys have had a price drop as well, starting at $1199.

MacBook Air
Not much to report here, other than a $700 price drop! Prices now start around $1499. Still a bit much for a machine that has no upgradability, but at least its a huge step in the right direction.

Software

OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard is on its way. Apparently, we’re going to see a lot of speedups in the new version. It appears that they’ve rewritten the Finder from the bottom up, which should give us all sorts of speed boosts, and have also made improvements to the Dock, including integrating it with Exposé.

Those of you who are feeling the squeeze of Leopard’s rather copious install size will be happy to know that a standard installation Snow Leopard will be less than half the size of the standard install of Leopard! That should be a savings of around 6GB!

Snow Leopard, with Grand Central, Open CL, and other system enhancements, will finally be able to harness the full power of your computer’s resources. A fully 64-bit OS will allow you to more effectively utilize larger amounts of memory, and Grand Central will help distribute both memory and processor cycles to all your apps, allowing them to take advantage of all available resources.

The full version of Safari 4 will come installed (it is also available via Apple’s site and/or Software Update), featuring a slew of improvements, including a faster JavaScript engine and HTTP streaming for audio and video.

QuickTime has also gotten a boost, becoming “QuickTime X” (pronounced “Quick Time Ten”). Much of the improvements have been made under the hood, though the interface has also gotten a newer, slicker overhaul as well.

Finally, office workers everywhere that rely on Exchange compatibility for their day-to-day tasks can rejoice. Mail, iCal, and Address Book now have support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.

iPhone OS 3.0

Of course, most of the buzz around WWDC this year was centered around the iPhone.

Unfortunately, not too much more was revealed about iPhone OS 3.0 than has already been discussed.

The big one, of course is Cut/Copy/Paste functionality, which should be available system-wide. Landscape mode will be available for Mail and a couple other apps. Many of the same enhancements in the desktop version of Safari have also filtered down to the iPhone OS version as well.

Google Maps are now easily embeddable into iPhone apps, and have turn-by-turn support.

There are a couple of other things that really caught my attention – one that’s been discussed before and one that’s fairly new.

First, iPhone 3.0 will support tethering! In theory, this means you can use your iPhone’s data connection with your laptop, an invaluable feature if you’re on the road a lot. Unfortunately, support for this feature is not available everywhere.

Another interesting feature that I’m sure will be popular around here is the “Find My iPhone” option. Effectively, it uses triangulation and GPS features to locate the approximate location of your iPhone, and can even override the mute switch to play a tone so you can find. If you still can’t find it, then you can remotely send a “wipe” command, removing all the user data on the phone, so nobody else can make off with your precious data.

This last feature would have been a lifesaver two years ago when I put OWC Larry’s good humor and benevolence to the test by… *ahem*… accidentally losing his iPhone at Macworld. Yes, I was that guy… If we’d had the “Find My iPhone” feature, we might have been able to recover the phone and I would have one less embarrassing event to try and live down around here.

iPhone OS 3.0 will be available on June 17, so it’s a little more than a week before you can take advantage of all the new features… and before Larry lets me within 500 feet of his new iPhone.

iPhone 3G S

If you follow any of the rumor sites, there’s been some buzz about a new iPhone rearing its head around this time. Turns out the rumors were true, and we’ve been given the iPhone 3G S.

This new iPhone seems to be considerably faster than predecessor, with both software enhancements and upgraded network support, allowing up to 7.2 Megabit speeds via HSDPA.

Features also got a boost with the introduction of a three megapixel camera with autofocus and auto white balance support. You can also capture video at 30 frames per second at 640×480 resolutions, and even edit it down via touch. Both video and photos can be shard via MMS, email, and MobileMe.

Another new feature is Voice Control. Its an interesting concept, especially when using the phone or iPod features in the car. Unfortunately, you still have to hold down the button to activate it, so it’s not completely hands-free. It’s a start, though.

Business users also haven’t been left out. By popular request hardware encryption is now available. There’s also a new Compass application. Its integration with Maps opens up many nice options for helping you find your way around when visiting another town, be it for business or pleasure.

Last, but not least, battery life has been improved – up to 5 hours talk or 9 hours of WiFi internet.

When they’re available on June 19, expect to pay $199 for a 16GB or $299 for a 32GB model. If those prices are a little steep, Apple is continuing to sell the iPhone 3G, for only $99.

In summary

Clocking in at a little over 2 hours, the WWDC keynote had a lot to offer. We got updated MacBooks, iPhones, and previews of the OS that runs on them. This is just a quick rundown of what was discussed. Keep checking back as we go more in-depth on the new developments (no pun intended).


LEAVE A COMMENT


  • One area of worth for the venerable MacBook Air is in the jet-set class of users, who don’t totally need upgradable aside from memory, but absolutely need portability with less weight. The alternative is usually tiny PCs that more resemble a netbook’s size and constrictions than what the Air offers.