Apple 'Back to the Mac' Event Discussion Thread: iLife '11, Mac OS X Lion, New MacBook Air

By Norman Chan

With Jobs about to take the stage at Apple HQ and Lion undoubtedly about to be unveiled, here's a place to chat about the next version of OS X.

Today, Steve Jobs will take the stage to announce the next version of OS X, which we assume will be called Lion. After a significant behind-the-scenes upgrade with Snow Leopard, we're expecting some substantial user enhancements with the next version of Apple's OS. Will Apple go so far as to integrate touch with its desktop operating system? Will there be some crazy new user interface revealed? What exactly will the next version of OS X entail? Will Apple finally unveil the mythical Verizon iPhone? Will there ever be a white iPhone 4? All these details and more may be revealed today. 
 
live stream (on Mac and iOS only), or follow Will and Norm on Twitter for minute-by-minute commentary. Full event recap below. 
 

Revenue recap

Same info as what was released from the earnings call earlier this week. Year over year growth of 27%. Boring financials stuff.

iLife 2011

iPhoto updates: New full screen modes, better facebook integration, new slideshow templates. Phil Schiller on stage to demo the features. He doesn't sound particularly excited. Can you directly email photos directly in iPhoto using templates. Fullscreen Carousel view introduced--cover flow-like way to view photos. Emphasis on creating books and letterpress cards with your photos to print.
 
 iMovie update: First, better audio editing (number 1 request). You can see audio waveforms below to let you know when audio is peaking, right below video thumbnails. Used to adjust overall audio levels and insert fades. It's like integrating garage-band style audio waveforms to video editing. One-step audio effects--slow down or speed up clips. Big selection of audio effects.  

 Movie Trailer mode is a theme template that lets you add movie credits, studio logo, cast, and release date. Automatically stitches in real-time to create a fake movie trailer. Plays back 24-fps for filmic quality. Looks to be pretty versatile so all movie trailers won't look the same. Storyboards give you a sense of pacing (group shots, action shots, etc).
 
iMovie is also now using iPhoto's face recognition to find people. Can identify individuals from a shot with multiple people. It'll also recognize whether a shot is good for a close-up or a wide-shot. Pretty useful if you have a ton of footage, but not sure who shoots that way and edits with iMovie. Most people I know shoot one or two takes, linearly. May be good for compiling vacation footage, I suppose.
 
They're spending a lot of time on Movie Trailers -- clearly a big part of the iMovie update. It'll help them sell a ton of units, so look forward to YouTube being saturated with fake trailers all next year.
 
Garage Band. New "Flex Time" and "Groove Matching" features. Groove matching analyzes the rhythm of one track and applies it to all the other instrument tracks -- useful for when individuals record separately. Flex Time lets you target individual notes that might've been off. Select region to bring up waveform editor and stretch out the segment to match it with other instruments. Next music lessons for guitar and piano (i thought that was what rock band was for).
 
iLive '11 is free with every new Mac. $49 upgrade for existing Macs. It's out today. 
 

FaceTime

Adding FaceTime for Mac. It'll sync with all your contacts from your Mac address book, so it's separate from an iChat buddy list. Makes sense it's calling iPhone contacts. Full screen FaceTime chat demoed. It's out in beta today. Will be a separate app from iChat (yet another dock icon -- wonder if it'll be in the dock by default). 
 

Mac OS X Lion

Mac OS X Lion. Bringing back features developed for iPhone/iPad. It's Mac OS meets the iPad. Mac OS is getting multi-touch gestures and an App store. Just as apps on iOS are full-screen, they want to bring that experience to Mac, where it works (eg. iPhoto). Apps on Mac now save states, so they auto-resume when you relaunch them.
 
First, multi-touch. With testing, Apple realize that people don't want to touch their LCD monitors. Vertical multi-touch doesn't work because it's not ergonomic. It'll stay on the trackpad for MacBooks and on the Magic TrackPad for desktops. 
 
App Store. This will be a separate app store just for Mac. Won't be the same as the iOS App Store. It'll have one-click downloads and automatic installation (though app installation was never difficult on Mac before). Auto-update all apps will be a welcome feature. Revenue split will be same as iOS, 70/30 split for devs. Apps will also be tied to your Apple ID. Sounds like a way to combat  piracy on Macs, which is pretty rampant now. Home screen for apps is called Launch Pad.
 
Mission Control: unification of Expose, Dashboard, Full screen Apps, and Spaces. A way to view everything running on your Mac and instantly navigate anywhere. It just looks like expose, updated to include full-screen views in a separate section and dashboard widgets.
 
Launch Pad turns your Mac Desktop into a Home Screen for apps. This is Mac OS's answer to the start menu (Dock is the Taskbar). I'll still use Quicksilver to launch apps. 
 
Full Screen apps: no menu bars. Turns on gestures for reading PDFs. Multi-touch to exit full-screen. This is pretty neat, and actually makes sense for media consumption. Wonder how it'll work for Safari or other web browsers. 
 
Lion will be released in Summer 2011. Mac App store will launch earlier on Snow Leopard -- within 90 days from now. Developers can submit apps in November. BOO APP APPROVALS FOR MAC.
 

One More Thing -- New MacBook Air

"What if the MacBook met the iPad?" Taking the hefty battery life, solid state storage, instant-on/standby, of the iPad and putting it on a Mac. New MacBook Air. Steve Jobs calling it the "future of notebooks".
 
13.3" LED Display with resolution of 1440x900-- better than a 13" MacBook. At its thickest in the back , it's .68". At its thinnest, 0.11". Weighs just 2.9 pounds. Has a full-size keyboard and glass trackpad. 
 
Runs an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and Nvidia GeForce 320m. Also includes FaceTime camera (no longer called iChat camera). Steve is claiming that it's 90% smaller and lighter (really?).
 
Battery life for web surfing is 7 hours, with 30 DAYS of standby. Looks like they're really pushing toward always-on computing for notebooks. When was the last time you actually shut off your laptop? 
 
Solid-State Hard drive isn't in a standard 2.5" SSD -- it's built directly onto the motherboard. Zero upgradeability, though that's not surprising. 
 
Surprise, also announcing an 11.6" model too. It has the same form factor as the 13.3" model, but weights 2.3 pounds. Same Core 2 Duo CPU and Nvidia 320m GPU. Resolution is 1366x768. Trade off for size is battery life --5 hours of web browsing using "vigorous" test and 30 days of standby time. 
 
$999 for 11.6" model, 1.4GHz with 64Gb of Flash storage. Can upgrade to 128GB with $1199 model. 2GB RAM standard, with 4GB option.
 
$1299 for 13.3" model, which will have a 1.86GHz CPU and 128GB of storage. Can upgrade to 256GB with  $1599 model.  2GB RAM standard, with 4GB option.
 
Both are available today.