Apple put the iPhones and iPads away on Wednesday, and revealed new Mac software and hardware. Still, Apple knows the importance of iOS, so it's no surprise that elements of the iPad crept into the next version of OS X, called Lion, and a refreshed MacBook Air. Read on for a closer look at Apple's announcements.
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Summary: Apple Previews OS X Lion, Updates iLife and MacBook Air
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Don't panic; the Mac App Store won't be the only way get OS X software, but it will allow for one-click purchasing and installation, update notifications and the ability to re-download apps on every Mac you own.
Facetime is now available in beta for Macs. It works between other Macs, iPhones and iPod Touches, using the Address Book for contacts. Any bets on whether an iPad with front-facing camera will follow?
Lion is eighth major version of Mac OS X, following Snow Leopard in 2009., but precise pricing and launch details were not announced. Apple says Lion will arrive next summer.
Just like the iPad, Macs running Lion will get a grid of apps, which appear when clicking a "LaunchPad" button in the dock.
Apps can even be arranged into folders -- what a magical and revolutionary concept!
Lion offers an alternative to the familiar windows and taskbars. Mac users can blow up an app to cover the whole screen, and swipe between other full-screen apps with a trackpad.
The so-called "Mission Control" is basically an expanded version of Exposé, showing a birds-eye view of open windows, Spaces, full-screen apps and the dashboard.
Before introducing the newest Mac, Steve Jobs asked, "What would happen if a MacBook met an iPad?" This is it, apparently. They do look a little bit similar.
The MacBook Air's claim to fame is portability. Both sizes measure 0.68 inches at their thickest point. The smaller Air measures 11.8 inches tall, 7.56 inches deep and weighs 2.3 pounds. The larger Air measures 12.8-by-8.94 inches, and weighs 2.9 pounds.
All MacBook Airs have Intel Core 2 Duo processors, ranging from 1.4 GHz to 2.13 GHz, and 2 GB of DDR3 RAM. Storage is all solid state, of course, and starts at 64 GB for the smaller Air, and 128 GB for the larger, with options for double the capacity in each. The smaller and larger models have 5-hour and 7-hour batteries, respectively. Here's the full rundown for each model.
For inputs and outputs, both sizes of MacBook Air have one USB 2.0 port on each side, a Mini DisplayPort and a headphone jack. The 13-inch Air has an SD card slot as well.
The 11-inch Air starts at $999 with 64 GB capacity, and add $200 for double storage. The 13-inch Air starts at $1,299 for 128 GB, and add $300 for double storage. Netbooks, they are not.
All new Macs will now include iLife 11, which has improvements to iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand. For everyone else, the software costs $49, unless you bought a new computer on or after October 1, in which case the update costs $7 plus tax.
The new iPhoto lets users share images by e-mail; tag and post photos to Facebook directly from the app; and create photo books and letterpress cards that can be ordered as hard copies. Slideshows now have animated themes with their own music.
iPhoto puts photo bookmaking right on your desktop with themed templates that let you choose background color, font, and layout. You can even run images up to the page's edges for a full-bleed two-page effect.
How cute. iMovie now includes a movie trailer creator, with fancy graphics and titles. More functional features include audio editing, one-click special effects and a people finder that detects faces and the style of shot (close-up, wide-angle and so on).
New in GarageBand are a host of toe-tapping features that range from Flex Time (for keeping songs in rhythm), Groove Machine (a rhythm matching tool), Guitar Amps and Effects, and new Basic Lessons for learning how to play piano and guitar.
GarageBand's biggest new features are Flex Time and Groove Matching, both of which are intended to fix bad rhythm. The former alters the speed of an entire recording to alleviate timing mistakes, while the latter quantizes all tracks to a single groove. Other features include new guitar effects, more piano and guitar lessons and a rating system for lessons.
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