The Apple Experience Just Got Better

WWDC 2009 keynote brought with it some incredible new announcements from Apple, Inc. From new notebook hardware updates to an update on the next major iteration of Mac OS X called Snow Leopard to an iPhone OS 3.0 upgrade and a brand new iPhone 3G (S) model! In addition, significant reductions in pricing were announced in respect of the MacBook line up and Mac OS X Snow Leopard and iPhone 3G. This last move shows that Apple has a keen understanding of the current market and they are positioning themselves to do well even in the harsh global economic climate. So why get all excited about this and how will this benefit you?

Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference keynote, which was emceed by Phil Schiller, brought to light some incredible announcements that even took many seasoned Apple pundits by surprise.

The entire notebook lineup was updated and revealed a significant price decrease to deliver their most affordable notebook lineup in Apple’s history.

The next major update to Mac OS X—dubbed Snow Leopard—was previewed.

Refinements and new, more powerful underlying technologies were exhibited, lighting the way toward a better computing experience for developers and end users. In addition, an insanely low upgrade price for existing Leopard users was announced.

The iPhone OS 3.0 update was demonstrated again as had been done in March with additional developers previewing the power and flexibility of the platform in areas of education, gaming, music and turn-by-turn navigation.

The Apple blogshpere has long been predicting a new iPhone model with upgraded specifications enabling a much more powerful iPhone and, not to disappoint, the iPhone 3G S was announced sporting a faster experience, video and voice control, among many other new features outlined at the WWDC keynote.

The key announcements from WWDC 2009 are as follows:

The Mac: Apple Notebooks

MacBook Pro 15”

Like the Mac Book 17” announced a few months ago, the MacBook 15” now sports a sealed battery as well. It delivers 7 hours of battery life and up to 1000 recharges. This translates into five years of battery life before it begins to diminish.

Several other noteworthy enhancements include:

  • More vivid color display
  • SD card slot replaces the express card slot
  • Upgradable to include a 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 6MB Level L2 Cache with up to 8MB of 1066 MHz DDR 3 RAM and up to a 500 GB hard drive or a 256 GB solid state drive
  • Base model begins at $1699, which is $300 less expensive than the model it replaces
  • Higher-end models, which include discrete graphic chips are priced at $1999 and 2299—lower priced than previous models by $200

MacBook Pro 17”

Updated with faster processors up to 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 8 MB 1066 MHz DDR 3 RAM.
Pricing begins at $2499—$300 less expensive from the previous model it replaces.

MacBook 13” Unibody now dubbed MacBook Pro 13”

  • Name modification to reflect a more powerful feature-set from its predecessor with memory expandable to 8MB of 1066 MHz DDR 3 RAM and up to a 500 GB hard drive or a 256 GB solid state drive
  • Similar sealed lithium polymer battery that is found in the MacBook Pro 15” and 17” models. Delivering 7 hours of battery life with up to 1000 recharges. Allowing five years of battery life before it begins to diminish
  • FireWire 800 (with backward compatibility for FireWire 400)
  • LED Backlit Keyboard
  • SD card slot
  • More vivid color display
  • Less expensive than the previous Unibody MacBook 13” that it replaces starting at $1199 with a high-end model selling for $1499

MacBook Air

  • Upgraded with a faster processor and a significant drop in price
  • The base model sells for $300 less than the previous model, beginning at $1499 or $1799 for 128 GB solid state drive, which is $700 less than the model it replaces!

All notebooks are environmentally friendly and meet the EPEAT gold standard as well as the Energy Star version 5 criteria.

The Mac: Mac OS X version 10.6 “Snow Leopard”

Apple’s goal with “Snow Leopard” was to build upon Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard,” which is Apple’s most successful software product to date.

Apple’s Bertrand Serlet, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, outlined the under-the-hood improvements in Snow Leopard. These included refinements to the majority of the operating system, introduction of powerful new technologies to take advantage of emerging powerful hardware components and building in Microsoft Exchange support to help with adoption of the platform in business and the enterprise.

Snow Leopard exhibits refinements of over 90% of operating system projects in Leopard, some of which include:

Finder: Rewritten in Cocoa which delivers new functional benefits while keeping the same user interface.

Dock: Application-specific expose functionality to the programs in the Dock making it even easier to organize and find what your looking for. [what does this sentence mean? what is expose functionality?]

Installation: 45% faster and recovery of over 6GB of hard drive space to use for your own data, movies, etc.

Preview and Mail: Much faster for launching application and performing common tasks.

Foreign language input method: Utilizing the trackpad.

Safari 4: Much faster. 7.8 times faster than Internet Explorer 8 when undergoing the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark. Passes the Acid 3 test by 100% to ensure internet standards, by comparison Internet Explorer 8 only passes 21%. Safari 4 exclusive feature in Snow Leopard: crash resistance and 50% faster performance because it runs in 64 bit.
** Safari 4 for Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) and Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) and Windows XP and Vista was released on June 8, 2009.**

Quicktime: Branded Quicktime X, it has a modern foundation, takes advantage of hardware acceleration, ColorSync, HTTP streaming, new User Interface that puts the focus on content.

Three powerful new technologies to enhance performance and position Apple ahead of the competition.

64 bit: Increases the memory limitation to 16 billion GB, as compared to 32 bit which has an inherent memory limit of 4 GB. Nearly all major system applications run in 64 bit, which translates into an incredibly fast computing experience.

Grand Central Dispatch: Allows developers to takes advantage of multi-core processors by making applications more efficient using only the number of threads required for the work being done. This increases performance and responsiveness.

OpenCL: An open standard that leverages the raw computing power of the graphical processing unit (GPU) to accelerate application performance.

Microsoft Exchange: Built into Mac OS X Mail, iCal and AddressBook. Easy to set up via auto-discovery in the exchange server.

Serlet made more than a few comments regarding Microsoft Vista and Seven, including the fact that they are both based on the same “old” technologies such as DLLs, Windows Registry and Disk Defragmenter which in comparison to Snow Leopard, will pose minimal competition in performance and user experience.

And as a final competitive gesture, he closed this portion of the keynote with the upgrade pricing details. At $29 for a single user license and $49 for a family pack, it would seem that Apple wasn’t going to let Microsoft best them from both the product and pricing standpoint!

Snow Leopard will be available for all Intel Macs only and it ships in September.

The iPhone:

iPhone OS 3.0 update

Scott Forstall, Senior Vice President of iPhone Software, revealed that 40 million iPhones and iPod Touches sold thus far and the App Store had seen 1 billion application downloads in just 9 months from its launch.

Much of what to expect of iPhone OS 3.0 was reiterated from March’s special iPhone 3.0 sneak preview event.

Of the more than 100 new features that are to arrive with the 3.0 update, a few mentioned at the WWDC keynote included:

Cut, Copy and Paste:

  • Works across all apps
  • Undo capability with a shake of the phone

Landscape:

  • Mail, Notes and Messages will now support landscape orientation, including a larger and more spacious keyboard layout

Messages:

  • Supports MMS (In the U.S., AT&T will begin support for this feature in “late Summer”)
  • Allows for sharing of photos, video, audio, contacts, location and text messages

Search:

  • Search through key applications like Calendar, iPod, Notes and Mail, you could even search your email on the server if you have IMAP service
  • Universal Spotlight Search which is located just to the left of your main Home screen, gives you the ability to search through your entire iPhone, including your apps

iTunes:

    Rent and purchase movies straight from the phone.

  • Purchase TV, Music Videos and Audiobooks straight from the phone as well
  • iTunes U support on the phone

Parental Controls:

  • Added the ability to control which Movies and TV shows can be viewed and which Apps can be used

Tethering:

  • The ability for your computer to access the wireless network through your iPhone. No WiFi hotspot needed
  • Works with Macs and PCs
  • Can be done through the USB connector or wirelessly over bluetooth
  • Will not be available in the US through AT&T on launch

Safari Web Browser:

  • Runs javascript 3 times faster than current iPhone firmware version
  • HTTP streaming, this will allow Phone to adjust the bit rate and quality for your wireless connection for optimal viewing performance
  • Autofill contact information and passwords
  • HTML 5 support

Languages:

  • Supports more than 30 languages with keyboards in both portrait and landscape orientation

**Find my iPhone:**

  • Requires a MobileMe subscription
  • Log into MobileMe on any web browser and it will locate your iPhone and show you where it is on a map
  • You can send the phone a message with your contact information, it will appear as a text message on the screen and also play an audible alert even if the phone is set to silent mode
  • You can remotely wipe your data if the phone is truly lost or stolen
  • Can restore the phone from back up by connecting to iTunes if it is found after the data had already been wiped

Over 1000 Application Programming Interfaces for developers to harness to expand the functionality of their apps including:

In App Purchases:

  • The ability to purchase more game levels or magazine subscriptions from within the applications themselves

Peer to Peer Connectivity

  • Seamlessly connect the devices over bluetooth

Accessory support:

  • Custom companion software to interact with hardware accessories through wired or wireless connectivity

Embed Google Maps Service:

  • Pan and Zoom controls
  • Custom annotations
  • Identifying current location
  • Geocoding
  • Turn by Turn direction apps

Push Notifications:

  • Generic push notifications for developers
  • Can push numerical badges on home screen icons, custom alert sounds and text alerts

A number of very impressive applications were demoed to illustrate the great new features of iPhone 3.0, including gaming, medical, navigation, music and transportation applications.

iPhone 3.0 will be available on June 17th via download through iTunes for free for all iPhones and $9.95 for all iPod Touches.

The iPhone 3G S

Lastly, Phil Schiller returned to finish up the keynote with the introduction of the new iPhone model dubbed, the iPhone 3G S, explaining that the “S” stands for Speed. The outer appearance is no different than the current iPhone 3G.

The iPhone 3G S runs faster than the iPhone 3G, on average about twice as fast with certain tasks performing even faster

Safari runs about 3 times faster on the iPhone 3G S than on the iPhone 3G running the 3.0 firmware

Utilizes Open GL ES 2.0 for enhanced gaming capabilities

7.2 Mbps HSDPA cellular data capability (AT&T will be rolling out this enhanced capability throughout their network over the next year)

3 Megapixel camera:

  • Autofocus, auto white balance and auto exposure
  • Tap on screen to focus, white balance and exposure will automatically adjust as well
  • Better light sensitivity and quality of pictures in low level lighting
  • Great quality macro photos as close as 10cm away
  • Video capability. Shoots at 30 frames per minute VGA with audio, autofocus, white balance and exposure as well
  • Can edit/ trim videos and then share them through MMS and email or upload directly to MobileMe or YouTube

Voice Control:

Can Dial phone numbers and control your iPod, including playing specific playlists, inquiring what songs or playlists are currently playing and enable the genius playlist to play similar songs to the ones you like

Built in digital compass

Support for Nike+

Hardware encryption:

  • Instantaneous remote wipe
  • Backed up data on a Mac or PC is encrypted

Improved battery life compared to the iPhone 3G:

  • Internet Surfing over WiFi is extended by 3 hours for a total of 9 hours
  • Watching Videos is extended by three hours for a total of 10 hours
  • Listening to your music is extended by 6 hours for a total of 30 hours
  • 2G Talk time is extended by 2 hours for a total of 12 hours
  • 3G Talk time is the same at 5 hours

The components of the iPhone 3G S make it environmentally friendly

Availability: June 19, 2009 you can pre-order online through Apple and AT&T.

Pricing: For new and “qualifying” customers with a 2 year AT&T service contract, the iPhone 3G S sells for $199 for the 16 GB model and $299 for the 32 GB model. They come in Black and White colors.

Apple also dropped the price of the iPhone 3G (8GB in Black only) to $99. Again, for new and “qualifying” customers with a 2 year AT&T service contract.

It was a very impressive presentation that ran the gamut of hardware and software announcements that included the Mac and iPhone/ iPod Touch. The excitement is definitely palpable and these announcements clear the way for Apple to expand their market share by way of their superior products like the Mac, iPhone and iPod Touch coupled with their reduced price tags.

More details to come over the next few days and weeks as the iPhone OS update and new model make their public debut!

Are you running out to buy any of the new products? Are you eligible yet for the AT&T iPhone upgrade pricing?

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