I’ve been a big fan of the Apple’s Aperture software for digital photo management and editing since version 1.5. Though other programs have arguably had an edge in fine-tuning images, nothing I’ve seen has matched Aperture’s ability to organize photos and share them with other applications. Version 1.5 was getting a bit long in the tooth, and many have been thinking about jumping ship to something like Adobe’s Lightroom due to the lack of recent updates. Hot on the heels of yesterday’s substantial update to Leopard is Aperture 2, now available from the Apple Store. Details are scant. As of this writing, Apple has not yet updated the Aperture page, but I’m looking forward to seeing what they have done with this program.
I finally had the opportunity to try out the MacBook Air at an Apple Store yesterday. I came away quite impressed. The most striking aspect to me was not the thinness, which is evident from the numerous pictures around the net, but how solid the laptop feels. The construction is really first rate, and it seems that it would be quite easy to close, pick up, and go without a second thought. When I had my 17″ PowerBook (weighing in at nearly 7 lbs), it required some “activation energy” when making the decision to pick up the beast and move to a new location.
The drawbacks of this laptop seem fairly minimal, particularly if you have access to a desktop computer for really intensive tasks and large volume data storage.
The Apple Store was out of stock, so I’m able to resist the instinct to snap one up…at least for the moment.
Macworld is always a traumatic time for me. So many new toys, so little time (and money). Let’s take a look at what Stevie J announced:
- Time Capsule – I’ve been holding off on buying an 802.11n wireless router, well, largely because my laptop doesn’t support this faster speed. Time Capsule basically merges a router with a hard drive, ostensibly for backup. Prices are reasonable, but I worry a bit about the non-replaceability of the drive. If the HD dies, I’ll have to replace the whole thing. On the other hand, at the rate I upgrade these sort of devices, it probably is not an issue. Verdict: probably what I’ll get when I need both more space for backup and faster wireless.
- iPhone update – Well, I already have an iPhone, so this is a no-brainer. While the update is not Earth-shattering, this free software update adds some nice new features including:
- The ability to find your current location in the maps application based on nearby cell towers and Wifi base stations. This has already proved useful to me, since I am highly skilled at getting lost. Maps gets a better interface as well, but this is the biggest change.
- The ability to send an SMS to multiple people. I don’t really do this, but I can see how some people might find is useful, at least once in a while.
- The ability to have multiple “home screens” of icons is useful now that you can create icon shortcuts (“webclips”) for websites. It will become considerably more useful once 3rd party software is available starting next month. Rearranging icons is nice, but again, doesn’t mean much until 3rd party apps appear.
- Lyrics – Should have been there in the first place, since older iPods had this. Good they finally added it. I don’t think songs generally include lyrics, so you’ll have to enter your own in iTunes (you can easily copy/paste from the web).
- Simultaneous key presses – There are some subtle changes to make two-thumb typing easier, but the most obvious effect is the ability to hold down the shift key while typing to get capital letters (previously you had to push shift before each capital…a pain for typing acronyms.
- iTunes Movie Rentals/Apple TV update – For me, this was the biggest announcement of the conference. Basically, Apple is getting into the video on demand market, and the Apple TV becomes a critical tool. Instant rentals are tremendously appealing in the same way Netflix was more appealing that going to local video store. With Netflix, the idea was that you could always have a few movies around that you would want to watch. That was fine most of the time, but if you want to watch a specific movie, you’d still have to wait for it to arrive in the mail. The next step has been video on demand. Some cable companies offer this, but with limited selection. Competitors like Netflix allow you to rent movies on your computer instantly, but you still have to pay a monthly subscription fee (not good for those who only watch occasionally) and you have to be sitting at your computer to watch. Some folks hook their computer up to their TV, but this is small group of people. Apple raises the game by allowing you to transfer movies to your iPod/iPhone or to your Apple TV (essentially a small computer that connects to your TV). The Apple TV is improved now in that you can not only use it to watch content, but also rent or buy content directly over the internet. Plus, HD movies are now an option. This is fantastic and I will be getting an Apple TV. The only downside is that you only have 24 hours to watch a movie after you start it. This is fine for living room viewing, but for iPod viewing a longer viewing period would be better. I usually have a small amount of downtime each day to watch something. If I could spread my viewing over several days, I might actually be able to watch a whole movie. With a 24 hour limit, it’s a bit harder.
- MacBook Air – This is a pretty sweet subnotebook. It’s the classic Apple package where the specs are all wrong, but you still want it anyway. My mind tells me that it’s slower than my current laptop, is missing many ports, has no optical drive, a too-small hard drive, and is not expandable. That said, it is very sleek and the sacrifices are almost worth it. I think it will be a great machine in the next revision, and is fine for most people, but I’m already straining with my MacBook. Most of the limitations are actually no big deal in my mind. If I got one, I’d probably buy the DVD drive anyway for convenience, but it’s nice not to have that extra bulk all the time for the rare occasion you’ll need it to install software. I’m a big fan of the MacBook keyboard (I find the MacBook Pro keyboard too mushy, unlike some people), and I’m glad to see the Air carries on this trend. What I really like is the SSD drive option, but it’s just too expensive at this time.
For Apple followers, there is one day of the year more important than any other. No, it’s not their birthday or Christmas (though that may be up there), it’s the keynote speech at the Macworld Expo in January, also known as the “SteveNote” (after Steve Jobs). For those outside the “inner circle” the excitement may seem a bit odd. I’m aware there is an expanding base of Mac users, so I thought I’d give a basic breakdown of how things work.
12:00 PM EST – Steve takes the stage and welcome’s everyone to MacWorld. He talks about how he’s very excited about what he has to tell us.
12:00 PM-12:30 PM EST – Steve goes over Apple’s recent financial performance, products we already know about, and will probably throw in a demo of something like the Mac Pro’s announced last week.
12:30-1:30 PM EST – Steve announces new products and invites Phil Schiller and others to demo them. There will probably be a video interview with Jon Ive on how one of the new products was designed, interviews with “celebrity” or “pro” users, depending on the item. Expected products this year include the MacBook Air, a compact laptop computer, an updated Apple TV with iTunes movie rentals, and an updated iPhone.
~ 1:30 PM EST – You log into the Apple store and place an order for the latest Apple gadget.
Now you’re all set for tomorrow.
Spaces is a great feature of Leopard, as I’ve previously discussed. Often I’ll find myself needing to access a Finder window in another space (e.g. top open a file in a certain app, to attach a file to a mail message, etc.). Though you can easily switch spaces while dragging a file, it’s more convenient to have access to your Finder windows in every space. Here’s a tip frommacosxhints.com on how to do just that. Basically, you just go into the Spaces panel in System Preferences and add the Finder as an application by looking in /System/Library/Core Services/Finder.app. Then choose “Every Space” for it’s space.
Several of my friends and coworkers wrote in to say they had scores in the 40s to 70s on the aforemetioned quiz. In case you’re wondering how exactly I managed to score 97% on the “Addicted to Apple” quiz. Here are the questions and my responses:
Have you upgraded to OS X Leopard yet? Yes (on the day of release)
When did you buy your first mac? 1980s (Mac II, 1988)
Do you own an iPhone? Yes
Do you own an iPod? Yes
How many iPods have you had over the years? 4-6 (original 1G, 3G, Minix2, Nano, 5G)
How many Macs have you had over the years? 4 or more (Mac II, PowerBook Duo, Power Mac 7100/66, PowerBook Duo 2300c, Power Mac 8600/300, iMac Rev B, PowerBook G4/500, PowerBook G4 17″, MacBook, Mac Pro).
If you were packing for a long trip, how many Apple products would you take with you? 3 (MacBook, iPhone, Airport Express)
Do you have a favorite Mac TV commercial? Yes, the Vista security one.
Do your friends and family call you for technical support when their mac has issues? Yes
Have you ever stuck an Apple sticker to something? Yes – our car when I was in high school…I’m tempted to do it again.
Do you try and convince those around you to buy a mac? Yes, often
Have you ever stood in line for the launch of an Apple product? Yes (the iPhone)
Have you ever owned an iMac G3? (the egg-shaped one with colored plastic)? Yes (in the original Bondi Blue)
Does it give you a warm fuzzy feeling when you see someone in a coffee shop using a Mac? Yes
What kind of computer are you using to take this quiz? I’m using my iPhone
See, not so ridiculous…right?
A friend send along this quiz which tries to assess “How Addicted to Apple Are You.” At the end, you are given a score which rates your level of Apple addition. Somewhat embarrassingly, I scored a 97%.