Apple Special Event, 20/10

Had time to put together a little more comprehensive round-up of what happened yesterday at the Town Hall Gig.

Tim Cook (who appeared to be wearing Jobs’s cast-offs) started by talking about the State of the Mac, Revenue and all that stuff.  So we’ll skip that.

iLife ’11

I like iLife.  I always have.  I use pretty-much all of it.  And some of the new features demoed by Randy Ubillos and Xander Soren were pretty neat.  ’11 has the same apps as ’09 (no, they’ve not ditched iDVD and there’s no new ‘killer’ app onboard).

iPhoto ’11 has a new full-screen mode, ehnacements for FaceBook, the ability to email photos direct from the app, new themed slideshows plus better quality books (and more range) plus some new letterpress quality cards for you to design and have made.

iMovie ’11 has all-new audio editing, one-step visual effects, a ‘people finder’ which can look for people within videos and tag them, so you can make finding clips containing certain people or groups of people much, much easier.  A couple of new themes (news and sports) plus Movie Trailers, which looked quite impressive for such a low-priced piece of software.

GarageBand ’11

This was the one that was mostly of interest to me, and despite a few new good features, there was nothing really to get my juices flowing again.

The new Flex Time feature allows you to stretch out sounds to fit in with the rest of your music.  Xander Soren stepped up to demonstrate this, and he stretched a rather short guitar note to make it fit in with the rest of the demo song he was played.  Then there was the Groove Matching feature, which adjusts the timing of your tracks to fit in with a track you know is in perfect time.  Again, Soren demonstrated this with an in-time drum track, and the rest of the tracks (which sounded like a proper nasty youth group) fitted in quite nicely.

There are also more guitar amps and effects, and more piano & guitar lessons.  Another new feature is called ‘How Did I Play’, and it works in-sync with the lessons.  You sit there with your MIDI keyboard (say) and hammer out the notes that are displayed on the screen as you play along with the lesson.  GarageBand remembers all the bum notes you play in order to humiliate you later, and a percentage score ticks away in the bottom left-hand corner to remind you how good or bad you are.  You can then go back later and improve on your performance by looking at the wrong notes you played.

The other apps haven’t been touched.  iLife ’11 is out now for $49 Stateside, and of course, £49 here.

 

FaceTime for Mac

The Beta of this is available from the Apple website now.  And oh my!  Is it a Beta or what>  I installed it yesterday (after having to go through some “put in your .me account username and password then wait for a verification email then click the link then wait for the app to let you in … blah blah blah”).  Video and audio quality was quite abysmal!  I looked genuinely ill.  Out-of-focus, pale, yuk!  It was no better when I actually got a FaceTime call from Mikki.  She looked pixelated at best, and when we tried full screen – yikes!  She noted that the sound wasn’t as good as FaceTime for the iPhone or, indeed, Skype.  So Apple need to tinker with that a lot more, please.  Not many preferences to play around with, other than landscape rotation and fullscreen.  Jobs demoed it with Phil Schiller, who looked like he’d either just been electrocuted or stepped out of the shower.  Or both.

 

OSX 10.7 “Lion”

Jobs only touched briefly on seven new features of ‘Lion’ (which should hit the shops (and your pocket)) next Summer.  Apple are trying to mate OSX with iOS, and as a result, a Mac App Store is coming.  ‘Misson Control’ will be a mix of Full Screen Apps, Expose, Spaces and Dashboard.  The Mac App Store will be with us within 90 days, Jobs said.  He reckoned it was too good to keep ’til Summer.

New MacBook Airs

Yes.  ‘Airs’.  Plural.  11.6″ and 13.3″ flavours.  No optical drive or hard drive.  Instant on!  FaceTime camera, full-size keyboard, thinner, lighter, and twice-as-quick memory.  Cheapest model in the UK is £849.  It’s $999 in the US, which equates to £631.66 here.  Go figure.

Both Airs have Core 2 Duos and the NVidia GeForce 320M GPU.  7 hours of battery life and 30 days (DAYS) of standby with the 13″ model.  Full glass multitouch trackpad.  The 11″ Air has a screen res of 1366×768 pixels.  It’s also a bit thinner and only weights 2.3 pounds.  Chip memory is stuck straight on the board, so no need for SSD.  Saves space.  They needed the space for all those batteries.  0.68″ at the thickest part down to a skinny 0.11″ at the front of the unit.  The 13.3″ model has an SD card slot.

Both new MacBook Airs are available now, with the usual memory and storage options.  There also appears to be something in the box called a ‘Software Reinstall Drive’ which looks like a sleeveless, thin, white USB memory stick with Apple logo.  Perhaps they’ve done away with install disks?

 

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