Macword San Francisco '06 Keynote Recap

The Macworld Keynote every year is like an extra holiday to Mac fans. Others just don't seem to understand. Steve Jobs stands in front of us, in his mock turtleneck and jeans, and preaches about the current and future Mac plans. This is an event that even the naysayers pay attention to.

The biggest news of the day was the new PowerBook, now known as the MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro features include a built-in iSight camera, IR Sensor, Apple Remote, ATI Radeon x1600 video processor, and a new, innovative magnetic power plug. All the normal I/O ports are included, with the exception of Firewire 800. I am not exactly sure why it was omitted.

Out of course is the IBM PowerPC chip, in is the Intel Core Duo. Intel's new Core Duo is a big shot in the arm to the aging PowerBook, said to be four times as powerful as the PowerBook G4's 1.67 Ghz processor. I didn't think we would see the Pro line get updated this soon, but it sure is nice. The Core Duo is two processors on one chip, and is very fast in speed tests. Now all that is needed is the flood of native software.

MacBook Pro is a lame name. Let me say that again: MacBook Pro is a lame name. How about iBook Pro, or PowerBook Core Duo? Sure the "Power" is gone, (no longer a PowerPC chip) but it has been a PowerBook for so long. Either way, it was a nice "one more thing" ending to this year's keynote.

In time, the MacBook Pro name will grow on me. Still, PowerBook Duo 2 would be a fun name, and a nice nod to the original Duo. It wouldn't make much sense, but that is beside the point. I am sure Apple thought long and hard on the name, and MacBook Pro was the best one. The iBook will likely become just MacBook.

Also on the hardware front is the Intel based iMac - sans the "G5" part. This comes with a 2.0 Ghz Intel Core Duo. Not a big surprise. Jobs himself announced the introduction of Intel based Macs in 2006. It is not often hardware is ahead of schedule however; the original announcement was for June 2006.

This also means that the Mac OS X is running on Intel hardware - and is stable enough for public consumption. This is only a good thing, as more and more developers will be making Universal Binaries. Just like the transition to PowerPC, this transition to Intel is going to be rocky for the "Pro" Mac users. The general use Mac audience is going to be the first to benefit once again.

I think it is best to wait for the big companies to release their Intel based Mac OS software. Emulating Photoshop in Rosetta doesn't sound fun, not from what Jobs said in his keynote. Of course if you do not use software like Photoshop, Maya, etc., then the emulation of PowerPC applications means nothing to you. Microsoft Office, as demonstrated, seems to run just fine under emulation. That in itself is great news.

iLife '06 and iWork '06 were expected, and iWeb was leaked - no big surprises in these product announcements. I still say iLife and iWork need to merge. iWork has not sold well, and would be better suited as part of iLife. That or flesh out iWork with a spreadsheet like application. iWork is still on the lean side with only Pages and Keynote.

iLife '06 took up a large part of the keynote address; it has a lot of new features. iPhoto, iMove, iDVD and GarageBand all saw some great new additions, but GarageBand was the winner with the Podcast Studio. The demo of the new Podcast-centric features in GarageBand 3 really had that "wow" factor that new Apple products have.

Even with the addition of iWeb - the new web page creation tool that grabs content from all of the iLife applications - the iLife '06 suite is still $79. You just can't beat that.

iWork '06 didn't see the additions that iLife did, only subtle tweaks. Pages 2 now sports more Apple-designed templates, 3D charts, freeform objects and masks, mail merge, spreadsheet-like tables (you can perform calculations) and reviewer comments - not unlike Adobe Acrobat. Keynote 3 sees the same new features (sans mail merge), plus new cinematic transitions and themes that support high-defenition displays.

As many people know, no Stevenote is complete without an update on how the Apple Retail Stores, iTunes Music Store, and iPods are doing. The business of Apple is doing great. Not a shock there. The biggest numbers of the day were $5.7 billion in revenue and 14 million iPods sold in the 2005 holiday quarter.

It was also great to see a new first party iPod accessory. The iPod Radio Remote only works on the 5th generation iPod video and the iPod nano. Too bad, because that means I won't be getting one. It is a nice accessory though, and something Apple should have thought of years ago - but why only one-way? Why not allow people to broadcast their iPod to an open radio station too? That would be an even better addition to the mountain of iPod add-ons. After all, its not like third parties don't give you this functionality already. Combine the two.

Mac OS X 10.4.4 was released today, updating many things including Safari, iChat and Dashboard. New Widgets include: People, Google, ESPN, Whitepages and Ski Report. According to Jobs, more the 1500 Widgets have been created.

Indeed, Dashboard Widgets are one of the better features of 10.4. Even KDE 4 is going to support them.

Steve Jobs always has something up his sleeve, and this time it was the MacBook Pro. Most people expected an Intel based iBook, but Apple went and bumped the PowerBook first.

The faster processor is somewhat negated by the fact that most applications still needs to be emulated. That is a problem, and will be a problem for some time to come. That is why the MacBook Pro is "4x faster" than the PowerBook G4 - it needs to be for emulation. Imagine how fast it would be like with native applications running on it. The Operating System and Apple software does not count. I am talking about native Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and the like.

I am not in need of a new portable Mac at the moment, but if I was, I would hold back. If I have learned anything, it is to wait for version 2.0 of any new portable Apple hardware.

I could not recap every minute detail of the 2006 San Francisco Macworld Keynote, so be sure and watch the video from Apple.com. You really should watch it, there are some funny moments, as always. The new Intel/iMac commercial gets a chuckle every time I see it.

Of all the product announcements today nothing was better than the transition of Apple hardware and software to Intel chips. Once Apple updates their Pro line of software, Universal Binaries and this new Mac hardware will look more appealing to me. By that time the Adobes and Microsofts of the world will hopefully be ready for the Intel switch too.

GarageBand 3's Podcast Studio and iDVD 6's (finally) wide screen menus were the highlights this year for me. I also can't wait to see the second generation MacBook Pro.

It is yet another fine day to be a Mac user. April 1, 2006 will mark 30 years for Apple, which has gone through some tough times in its past - especially the last 10 years. Does anyone remember that Gil Amelio (widely criticized during his tenure) became Apple CEO in February of 1996? Apple has come a long way since then.

Comments (4)

oliver:

oh how I've been waiting for a new Powerbook. I have a G4 1ghz Powerbook and I work in the desing feild and I keep holding out for a big leap in the Powerbooks for me to bite into. This is it! Unfortunetly though I'm going to have to hold out a bit more until they have all the Adobe products running native. With my line of work I'm also going to need Auto Cad to run native. Still I'm excited that the future is hear I just need the software to catch up.

Good article. And it's a fair point about Rosetta - until more third-party developers produce universal binaries their programs are not going to be very usable under Rosetta, if at all. NeoOffice won't run under Rosetta, for example.

supa:

it is like a holiday, isn't it!

Thanks Neil! You know this started out being less then 300 words, and ended up being over 1300. I guess it is just the Mac evangelist in me. I figured if I was gonna add to it I might as well make it Blogcritics worthy.

I can see it now though, a 120 GB hard drive in a MacBook Pro (version 2 or 3) will work nicely as a dual boot Mac OS X and Windows XP/Vista system.

MB - It surely is. And to be perfectly honest I thought of that lead just last night. Sometimes it happens that ways, sometimes. I was going to write "like a second Christmas in January" but we just got done with the entire "War on Christmas" at Blogcritics, and figured someone might get pissy with that. Plus this way I do not offend anyone.

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