Apple’s Lion & New MacBook Air

Apple hosted an event a couple of weeks ago. They teased some features from their upcoming OSX update called Lion, talked about the new iLife ’11 suite, and they announced a new MacBook Air. Reviews of the keynote were mixed, but most people found it to be fairly ho-hum. I had no expectations, so I pleased with the event, though I do agree it wasn’t earth-shattering. First up, the new OS update:

Lion

Snow Leopard was a nice incremental upgrade. It cut the size of the operating system, added some new core technologies, and brought better Exchange support, among other things. It was cheap, and I upgraded immediately. Lion seems to be along these lines. Steve didn’t mention any major overhauls, just some new interface updates, with some based on iOS features.

Launchpad is basically the iOS main screen, but on a Mac. I’m not really sold on it. I love the dock, and it houses all the apps I use regularly. For anything I only use from time to time, Spotlight is a quick Cmd+Space away.

Mission Control has piqued my interest. It gives you a “bird’s-eye view of everything.” The big change that I am excited about is the new Dashboard. It seems it will be easily accessible from Mission Control, and that it will work more like a screen on iOS (swipable) than its current incarnation as something that flies in and overlays your desktop.

Full Screen Apps have been a long time coming on Macs. The new iLife introduces the first of these apps, and it seems this will be a focus of Lion. Looking forward to apps taking advantage of this, and the fact that Mission Control will allow you to see those apps as well.

The Mac App Store

Although this is toted as a Lion feature, it is actually going to be available before Lion launches. This is a big deal for Apple. Their dominance in the mp3 player, music sales, and smartphone realms is rooted in one thing – iTunes and the music and app stores. Apple wants to do the same for Mac apps… a place where you can easily find apps, read reviews, download demos, and purchase them. Right now, Mac app hunting can be a bit hit or miss. You really have to pay attention to blogs and tweets and tech sites if you want to find the best and newest apps.

This will all change with the Mac app store. A one-stop shop for Mac apps is an excellent idea, and though Apple will be taking a large cut of the profits, I can still see a lot of developers taking part. Heck, I can see most devs switching to Mac App Store sales only. It already costs them a tonne of money to sell their apps online – they may even save money this way.

iLife ’11

iLife ’11 is an upgrade that a lot of people have been waiting for. Maybe not as much as iWork ’11 (which has yet to be announced), but there are lots of iLife fans out there. Apple only announced updates for iPhoto, iMovie, and Garageband. It seems iWeb and iDVD are being left out in the cold. They are still bundled, but they remain in their buggy states in need some of TLC.

iPhoto was the first app to demo the new full screen view. It is gorgeous, and it’s the perfect app to demo the functionalities of utilizing the whole screen. There are new Facebook features, which is definitely a welcomed upgrade. You can now upload to any album, and any comments on your Facebook photos will show up in iPhoto. Apple also added e-mail capabilities to iPhoto, as well as updates to slide shows and books. All in all, a great upgrade to a program that I criminally underuse.

iMovie received a fantastic update. The biggest feature update for me is audio editing. Apple has finally brought fine-tuned audio control back to iMovie. Not since iMovie 6 has this been possible. One-Step Effects make adding complex effects very easy. Movie Trailers will allow people to make great looking videos very easily. I imagine YouTube will be flooded with these in no time. iMovie also now has face detection, and will tell you which clips contain faces. All in all, this is a great update, and I can’t wait to try it out.

Lastly, Garageband received some love. Flex Time and Groove Matching will help lots of people create music that sounds a little bit more musical and in time. Apple also added more stompboxes and app simulators.

iLife  ’11 is a great update and definitely worth the $50 or so.

MacBook Air

Apple’s new MacBook Air is a work of art. “Impossibly thin” never looked so good. They all ship with solid-state drives, giving them iPad- and iPhone-like instant-on capability. In fact, you can turn the new MBAs on after 30 days and they will boot in seconds where you left off. These little beauties pack beautiful displays, full keyboards, capable processors, two USB ports, awesome trackpads, and they do it all in tiny enclosures that weigh next to nothing.

Apple’s MacBooks will be tough sells from now on. The new MacBook Air models are lighter, faster, have better screens, and are much more sexy. The only thing they lack is an optical drive, but with cloud computing, this is becoming less and less of an issue. Battery life is also incredible. In all honesty, if I hadn’t just purchased my MacBook Pro, I would opt for a MacBook Air.

There are two models: 11″ and 13″. I can see both models having their fans. These are not netbooks. They are fully capable, fast machines with full keyboards and gorgeous screens. They compliment the Apple lineup wonderfully. The iPad is not a full computer . I don’t think the MBA will eat into iPad profits at all. Actually, quite the opposite… people who love the tablet may be looking for a full computer that is almost as thin and light, and the MBA will suit them just fine.

These things will sell like hotcakes, and I would love to have one!

What’s Next?

I am looking forward to Apple’s products in the new year. Their lineup is pretty much set for the holidays, so what can we look forward to?

  • OSX Lion – more feature announcements
  • iWork ’11 – please?
  • iPad 2nd Generation – cameras? better screen? faster? thinner?
  • MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac updates
  • The Mac App Store
  • Final Cut Pro update
  • Aperture 3 update – please make it usable!

One Reply to “Apple’s Lion & New MacBook Air”

  1. Oh. My. Frig. It’s a sad day to be broke, haha. Pumped for the iMovie updates and the Mac App stpre, and I really want Lion and the new Macbook Air. I wasn’t sure they’d attempt to revive that one, but it looks AWESOME.

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