Earlier this week Apple hosted one of the most important Worldwide Developer Conference keynotes in their history. This event was totally owned by Steve Jobs in the years he ran Apple. Now, with his passing, all eyes were on new CEO Tim Cook and his leadership team to see what they could offer.
The event was a spectacular success for Apple. The most important thing, above and beyond anything else, was to show that Apple as a company still had stamina, still had a development pipeline to could keep it ahead of the competition and still had the combative, restless spirit that drove their innovation to ever new heights.
Features, Colour And Enthusiasm
It was a colourful and rich keynote presentation. Apple dismissed any doubts that they might be short of new products and services to offer consumers. The launch of iOS6 and updated information about the new OSX Mountain Lion gave us plenty to anticipate. Features aside, it was clearer than ever, iOS and OSX are moving towards a seamless user experience, where your activity moves from one device to another.
Apple is not selling you a device, or a user experience, they are selling you a way of life.
We were introduced to the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display, both of which were stunning upgrades. The fully optioned Macbook Pro, with 16GB of RAM, Quad Core processing and up to 768GB of Solid State hard drive is a breathtaking machine. However, three key features of the new flagship MacBook Pro are worth considering.
First, Apple abandoned the 17 inch form. While there are still fans of very large notebooks (mostly in the US), they are increasingly unpopular and, frankly, somewhat impractical. And, with the ability in Mountain Lion, to easy send your screen to an Apple TV (and eventually to any other Apple display), having such a large screen on a mobile computer seems irrelevant.
Perhaps more significant is Apple’s decision to solder in the memory for the new MacBook Pro, which means that you will no longer be able to upgrade the RAM yourself. This is a minor matter, since the options here are now quite limited and it is cheaper to fix the meory at the factory that used dedicated memory boards. But, this is one more step towards making the computer less like a build to order product and more like a consumer device.
Finally, Apple have taken the CD/DVD drive out of the new MacBook Pro. This will shock some people. But, Apple have always been quick to drop what they see as redundant technology from their computers. Although people still buy music, software and movies on discs, the future belongs to downloads, streams and cloud storage. Apple had already signalled this by discontinuing Waveburner, iDVD and DVD Studio.
Of Mac Pros, iMacs And Future Announcements
The Mac Pro was quietly refreshed on the same day as the WWDC keynote. Conspiracy theorists will read all sorts of things into this, but it’s not the first time Apple have quietly updated a product. The Mac Pro is already an amazing machine (I still have no issues running current software on my 2008 Mac Pro). Any upgrade was only going to be incremental until Apple decide to rethink the form of the Mac Pro.
However, in a fascinating break from tradition, Apple have engaged in a little PR campaign to assure users that a major Mac Pro update will come next year.
In fact, for all the talk about Apple being a secretive company, we actually know quite a lot about what they will be releasing in the next 6-12 months. They may be secretive, but Apple is also engaging and, as always, quite seductive.
What Happened To Aperture?
Apple have always struggled to put their high end photo editing programme, Aperture, on the Map. A direct competitor to Adobe’s Lightroom, Aperture has some fans, but doesn’t have wide support in the photographic community.
This time round, Apple have cut the price of Aperture (again) and further integrated it into iPhoto. In fact, you can use the same library to run either programme. Apple are now marketing Aperture as a photo editing and development suite, with some extended library features. Sadly, I don’t see anything in this update that would make me consider moving away from Lightroom.
But, for photographers who are happy using iPhoto to manage their photo library and would like to explore some better processing and editing tools, the new low price may make Aperture more attractive.
As an Apple user, shareholder and fan, I was excited by year’s WWDC announcements. It showed that Apple still has a clear roadmap for innovation and still has something to offer. And, most importantly of all, it showed that Apple is still pushing the technology forward, while relentlessly simplifying the user experience.
It’s not about a computer, or a phone or a piece of technology, it’s about a way of being in the world.