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2010-10-21

A few thoughts on the October 2010 Apple event

Software

Mac OS X Lion and more:
  • FaceTime is available on the Mac: About time. One has to wonder why FaceTime is a separate app and hasn’t been integrated into iChat. Maybe iChat will go away, long-term and/or iChat features will be added to FaceTime (mainly instant messaging).
  • Mac App Store and Launchpad: Great for beginners who tend to have a hard time to install (as in: apps appear everywhere on their hard drive) and to start/find applications. Also useful for computers that don’t have a DVD drive (such as the MacBook Air). Automatic update of applications is very welcome and a long-rumored Mac OS X feature that never quite made it to the real world. I would like to know how they deinstall applications: Do they remove all the files (preferences, caches, support files) that an app leaves behind?
    Additional reading: Daring Fireball has a nice article on some of the problems with the current ways of app distribution.
  • Full screen apps: This is Apple (partially) taking a page out of the Windows playbook. It makes sense, but I would prefer them to also copy how Windows 7 allows you to quickly split the screen between two applications. I would guess that full-screen operation is enough 80% of the time and vastly simpler than managing lots of small windows. User interfaces have been moving away from multi-windows and towards tabs and views for a while now.
  • Don’t touch the screen: Interesting that Apple explicitly mentions why they are not doing direct touch on Mac OS, but rather use a trackpad with multi-touch gestures.
    Related reading: “What does a multi-touch desktop GUI look like?” seconds Apple’s opinion.
  • Mission control: unifies Spaces, Expose, Dashbord, and Launchpad. This kind of unification is badly needed. Currently, applications and spaces are somewhat at odds with each other and don’t feel completely cohesive. It seems like Dashboard, Launchpad, and full-screen apps become spaces.
Update 2011-02-24: Apple’s MacBook introductions: what’s actually new? [summarizes what is known about Lion, so far]

Software

  • MacBook Air: Brilliant, how it really is an iPad with a keyboard. Because Apple directly uses Flash RAM chips and does not put them into a hard drive enclosure, there is much more space for batteries. One more way that iOS devices and Macs cross-pollinate.
  • Honest battery tests: Finally. This is how you should interact with your customers (god knows Apple not always does it); they are going to see through your shenanigans, anyway.
  • A USB stick to restore your software: MacBook Airs (or is that MacBooks Air?) come with an 8GB stick that allows you to reinstall the operating system and iLife.
  • Instant on – huh? Engadget dropped a hint about what might be new about “instant on” (current MacBooks already wake up from sleep fairly quickly). Apparently, MacBook Airs go into a light sleep when closing them and then into a deeper sleep after an hour (where the contents of the RAM are saved to the hard drive). This feature is less risky with a solid state drive, because turning a hard drive with movable parts on willy-nilly might damage it.

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