WWDC 2009: New and Updated MacBooks, iPhones, OS X Snow Leopard, and iPhone OS 3.0

Apple's keynote at the World Wide Developer Conference has just ended, and here we are covering some of the highlights of the address. We are looking forward to providing feedback and discussion regarding the announcements, and welcome our readers' com


Apple's keynote at the World Wide Developer Conference has just ended, and here we are covering some of the highlights of the address. We are looking forward to providing feedback and discussion regarding the announcements, and welcome our readers' comments and discussion as well, so read on and let us know what you think!

This year's WWDC began with the "PC" commercial character John Hodgeman joking about keeping silent and preparing for the keynote. Apple's popular TV commercials seem to have a good footing and will be around for a while.

The keynote was lead by Phil Schiller, despite rumor of Steve Jobs being seen. Steve's medical leave is over at the end of June, so hopefully we will see him at future Apple events.

Its remarkable how many people are adopting OS X. The numbers seem to be increasing exponentially: 25 million new users in 2007, bringing the total to over 75 million in the past two years. At this rate, its clear MacFixIt has a lot of work ahead of us, and we're looking forward to covering troubleshooting steps for all the new and existing Mac users out there.

The keynote contained several highlights, including new Mac hardware announcements, and information regarding OS X and the upcoming iPhone 3.0 software.

New Hardware

It seems the majority of new Mac users are enjoying their Laptop lines and as such, Apple has released a new 15" MacBook pro with a built-in LiPoly battery. This battery will give people up to 7 hours (40% more life), and like the 17" MacBook will allow for 1000 charge cycles as opposed to the typical 300 cycles.

Other new features in the 15" MacBook are:

  • Expresscard slot replaced with SD card reader
  • New display with 60% color gamut increase
  • Up to 3.06GHz Dual Core
  • 8GB RAM support
  • Up to 500GB, 7200rpm HD or 256GB SSD
  • Starting at $1699, down from $1999

The base unit includes 9400M graphics only, a 250GB hard drive, and 4GB RAM. For $1999/$2299 you will get the 9400M/9600M GPU combo.

There is also a small update for the 17" MacBook Pro: giving it up to a 500GB HD, and a small bump to 2.8GHz. Unlike the 15" model, the 17" will still contain the ExpressCard slot.

The 13" MacBook will get 8GB RAM capacity and up to 500GB hard drive. Apple has added FireWire 800 back to this computer, which clearly shows the company has listened to the feedback of customers. With a new backlit keyboard, the 13" Aluminum MacBooks will now be dubbed "MacBook Pro" and will start at $1199.

The Plastic MacBook will retain the "MacBook" title, and for the MacBook Air there is a small speed bump, bringing it up to 2.13GHz.

On the iPhone front, Apple lauds the adoption of the iPhone devices by mobile users, and showed statistics of 65% of mobile browsing being done on iPhone and iPod Touch devices. Apple will be introducing a new iPhone, dubbed the "iPhone S" (S, for "Speed") which will have the same design but will be able to launch and run applications between 2x and 4x faster than the standard iPhone. It will incorporate OpenGL ES 2.0, for faster graphics rendering, and will support the super fast HSDPA networking technology which will give up to 7.2Mbit networking speeds.

It will also have a 3-megapixel camera with autofocus support and auto whitebalance and exposure settings that will adjust with a tap of the finger. This greatly enhances the foreground and background focusing, and also enables clearer pictures in low-light situations. The addition of a macro lens will enable taking pictures at distances as close as 10cm.

The iPhone will now support video capture at 30FPS in VGA (640x480) resolutions, and include auto focus and auto white balance and exposure during recording. Video can be trimed and instantly shared via email, MMS, YouTube, and MobileMe.

The Phone will support voice recognition and control, which will allow for interaction with contacts and calling, as well as playing iTunes music and video.

Other features of the new iPhone will be:

  • New Compass app
  • VoiceOver for content controls
  • Zooming
  • Color inversion
  • Mono Audio
  • Support for Nike+
  • Data Encryption
  • 9 hour battery life (up from 6) -- 10 hours of video, 30 hours of audio, and up to 12 hours of talk time
  • Other features available for previous iPhone models (encrypted backups and instant remote wipe)

The new iPhone is eco-friendly and will not contain any arsenic, BRF, or mercury. It will come in both black and white, and for AT&T customers will be priced at $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB model. There will also be a $99 option for the standard 8GB iPhone (non-S) and all will ship with the upcoming iPhone 3.0 OS. The iPhone 3G-S will be available on June 19th in the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK. Throughout the summer it will become available in 90 countries.

OS X Announcements

OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" will have over 1000 refinements, resulting in over 90% of the operating system being updated. Apple have kept the Finder intact and rewrote it using the modern Cocoa API. They also incorporated 3D rendering into the Dock application and blended it with Expose to create a faster workflow experience.

The OS installation has been made more efficient as well, incorporating file system compression to save up to 6GB of disk space and overall resulting in a 45% faster installation procedure.

Included in the enhancements is PDF text selection and enhanced PDF rendering which results in up to 2x speed boost fro the "Preview" application. Chinese character input is now available, faster Mail application (up to 2.3x faster), and a full version of Safari 4, which will also be available for Leopard, Tiger, and Windows as well.

Safari for the other platforms can be downloaded from the Safari website. The program will include support for QuickTime X (meaning hardware acceleration), 64-bit Javascript support with the super fast "Nitro" javascript engine being used, HTTP Streaming for audio and video, and enhanced ColorSync support.

One thing MacFixIt readers will find useful is the crash resistance of Safari for plugins such as Flash, which should dramatically reduce the number of unexpected quits of the application when loading various webpages.

Regarding the Finder and Dock, "Stacks" now support scrolling and "drilling", which allow you to quickly view the contents of folders. Previews in the Finder are also enhanced, and can play movies and step through PDFs right in the Finder.

Enhancements to Expose now allow you to view all the windows from an application by clicking it in the Dock. This works with drag-and-drop of files as well, which adds a new dimension for file handling.

QuickTime X (like OS X, the "X" denotes "ten") has been rebuilt from the ground up and is focused towards presenting content to the user instead of being just a background API and plugin. The controls disappear when you move the mouse out of the player window, and the player now incorporates visual timelines and sharing with MobileMe, YouTube, and iTunes. QuickTime is now 64-bit and can take advantage of the extensive increase in available memory as well as incorporate 64-bit math to make the technology up to 2x faster.

The big aspects of OS X Snow Leopard are the technologies that take advantage of the vast increase in computing resources and computing power of modern Macs. 64-bit computing allows up to 16 billion GB of memory, and multicore and multiprocessor systems (both on CPU and GPU fronts) allow for tremendous computing capacity. Snow Leopard has taken the final step to make the core of OS X fully 64-bit, and incorporating Grand Central Station multi-processing management technologies to distribute these resources to applications so developers can more easily take advantage of computing resources and ensure your Mac is always running at full speed.

In addition to Grand Central, Apple's OpenCL technology will be included in Snow Leopard, allowing for multiple GPUs to be included in routine tasks, resulting in over 1 teraflop of additional power from the GPU. Many companies are behind the OpenCL standard, including IBM, nVidia, AMD, Intel, GE, and other electronics developers.

Apple has also incorporated Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 support into Mail, iCal, and Address Book. This will allow for auto-discovery of exchange servers, and automatic population of email and to-do folders with easy previews using QuickLook and swift searching using Spotlight.

iPhone OS 3.0

The iPhone has more than 50,000 applications available for download, with over a billion downloaded, and Apple has sold more than 40 million iPhones and iPod Touches combined. The upcoming iPhone 3.0 software contains over 100 new features, including the long awaited cut/copy/paste functionality. The center of this feature, called the "pasteboard" can be customized by developers to contain many different data types: photos, contacts, audio, maps, mail, notes, etc.

Other features of the iPhone software include:

  • MMS support will now extend to photos, contacts, audio files, and map locations.
  • Support of landscape mode for Mail, Notes, and Messages.
  • Search for calendars, music, notes, and email right from the front page
  • iTunes movie and TV show rentals and purchases
  • Tethering support via both USB and BlueTooth for internet connection sharing, though this will require carrier support.
  • Enhanced parental controls.
  • Safari feature enhancements similar to OS X, including faster Javascript, and support for HTTP streaming audio and video, HTML 5, and autofill.
  • Additional language support for Greek, Korean, Thai, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Another great feature makes use of GPS and antenna triangulation to find your iPhone when it is lost. This service will be for MobileMe subscribers, and when you log into your MobileMe account you will see the location of your phone on Google Maps. You can send your iPhone messages and have it sound alarms, regardless of whether or not the device has been silenced. This can be exceptionally useful to find a thief. Lastly, you can remotely wipe your lost iPhone to prevent identity theft, and be able to restore your data to a new phone (or the recovered one) from a local backup via iTunes.

An additional enhancement for the new iPhone software is the allowance of direct peer-to-peer connectivity using Bluetooth, which can be used for gaming and contact transfer. The software will also allow for direct support for hardware devices so accessories can work through the Dock or Bluetooth, which will allow for great flexibility in where iPhones can be used. For instance, medical patients can be directly monitored using the iPhone, and with the "Zipcar" car rental and sharing service, you can remotely find, unlock, and reserve your car rental. Who knows, someday we'll be able to drive it using the iPhone (James Bond, anyone?).

Upgrading Times and Costs

Apple is really pushing for everyone to use Snow Leopard, and therefore, for all Leopard users, Apple will be selling upgrades for just $29. Apple has released a new developer preview of the operating system and will have it available for the public in September. It's been a long time waiting, but it appears to be well worth the wait. We are looking forward to finding and outlining fixes and troubleshooting steps for various unknown problems that may occur with this new operating system, though we hope for smooth upgrades and an uplifting and fun computing for everyone using Snow Leopard.

The iPhone 3.0 software will be available as a $9.95 upgrade for iPod Touch users, and will be free for iPhone users. It will be available worldwide on June 17th, so mark your calendars and back up your data in preparation for this much-anticipated update. Developers will have a "Golden Master" version of the software today, so small bugs and features can be tweaked.

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