That is one more WWDC down and another round of speculation out of the way. Today’s keynote started off with some hardware announcements, moved into software and then right back into hardware. One of Apple’s SVPs, Phil Schiller, emceed this presentation, and based on the crowd’s reactions to the announcements, it seems clear to me that as long as Apple keeps on innovating and creating lust worthy products they will get along fine once Jobs inevitable steps down from his CEO position (not that I want that to happen or anything).
They started the day’s proceedings with some tweaks to their line of notebooks. The aluminum unibody MacBook has not been invited to use the MacBook Pro monicker. Now MacBook only refers to the white plastic model. All 13″, 15″ and 17″ unibody notebooks are now called MacBook Pros, besides the Air of course which gets to keep its own name. Apple seemed to be listening when consumers spoke because they brought back FireWire 800 to the whole lineup, including the 13″. The 13″ and 15″ now sport brand new SD card slots, for the 15″ this comes at the sacrifice of its ExpressCard slot. The 17″ has ExpressCard and no SD. All MacBook Pro models now come with the built-in battery which before was only on the 17″. Many other specs were bumped while prices were slashed. This really seems like it could increase their already monumental notebook computer sales.
The big news to come away from here is that they are going to be releasing Snow Leopard as a $29 upgrade disc in September. They’ve been talking a lot about how Snow Leopard is going to dramatically improve the performance of your machine, and at $29 I think it will sell incredibly well, people who might have skipped 10.5 are going to jump right in at that price. The entire architecture has switched over to 64-bit which offers a lot of technological benefits especially in the amount of physical memory the OS can address, allowing for up to 16 Billion GB of RAM. There were a lot of other features and upgrades to existing apps, but if you are very interested you can most likely find that info on Apple’s website.
They talked more about OpenCL, the standard they’ve been developing for harnessing the power stored up in your graphics processors. When not playing a game or watching HD video your graphics processor sits idle for the most part, there is an incredible amount of untapped power in there so they are now going to use it to speed your machine up. OS X 10.6 now has full Exchange support built into Mail, iCal, and Address Book so you can more seamlessly start integrating Macs into existing PC/Windows only corporate networks.
iPhone OS 3.0
They showed off some of the iPhone 3.0 updates but most of it was the same as what they showed at the iPhone 3.0 event a few months ago. New things included buying and renting videos on the iTunes store over Wi-Fi, additional language support, HTML5.0 in Safari, Find My Phone built into MobileMe suite, remote wiping of your phone’s data, and turn-by-turn directional GPS. Two other things I was upset to hear were that in the US, AT&T isn’t going to roll out MMS over iPhone until later in the summer and they haven’t made any announcements about tethering the phone for mobile Internet on your laptop. Apple is trying to build the best device it can, but here in the US, AT&T is preventing it from being the best. I hope they change their ways soon. iPhone OS 3.0 is going to be available as a free download for iPhone owners on June 17, it’ll be $9.95 for iPod Touch owners.
The Holy Grail, iPhone 3GS
This is the announcement everyone was waiting for. The new model iPhone, the 3GS is at least 2× faster than the 3G in many benchmarks, sometimes up to 3×. New hardware features include a 3-megapixel camera, with auto-focus, auto-white balance, auto-exposure, 30 fps VGA video recording, better light sensitivity. You can edit video on the phone although I’m sure there isn’t that robust of a toolset. You can upload them to YouTube, send them via MMS, and upload to MobileMe. They’ve added in Voice Controls which I think is cool. You can voice dial, and control your music with it just by holding down the Home button. There is a built-in digital compass (really?). Text to speech is built-in so it can read to you, hardware encryption, Nike+ compatibility, and increased battery life.
The 3GS will look exactly like the 3G, glossy back and all, it will come in 16 GB and 32 GB flavors for $199 and $299 respectively, in both black and white, it launches June 19th. In the meanwhile, the regular iPhone 3G is going to stay on the market at 8 GB for $99 in black. The $99 price tag is going to blow the doors down for this one. I know so many people who have been on the fence about an iPhone for 2 years now and this just might get them to jump in.
On Apple’s website, I did find this little juicy detail which I hope changes before launch, scroll down to the bottom and read the second line.
To get it for these low prices you need to be a new customer or eligible for a hardware upgrade through your carrier. iPhone 3G owners who got their phones last summer aren’t yet eligible for upgrades since AT&T’s upgrade cycle is I believe 24 months. So existing iPhone 3G owners will have to pay $599 and $699 for their choice of the iPhone 3GS if they want to upgrade. When the 3G came out last year I believe AT&T allowed existing iPhone owners to upgrade even though they weren’t eligible yet, but I’m not sure if or when that will happen this time around. Apple’s website says they need to pay full price, and I put a call into my local AT&T store and they too said I would most likely have to pay full price. Hopefully, that changes or they will have throngs of angry 3G owners cursing at them.
All in all, I think it was a good and exciting keynote and I can’t wait for everything to launch so I can try it all out. If you have an Apple computer or are planning on getting one soon this is all great news.