Macworld wants your (i)Life

I spent 2 hours this afternoon watching the live webcast of Steve Jobs giving the Macworld San Francisco 2003 keynote.

Lots of people were hoping for an iPhone or a video iPod (whatever the heck that was supposed to look like), but there was nary a funky piece of hardware to be seen. Lots and lots of cool software, though!

Well, almost no hardware. There is a new, 17” widescreen PowerBook as well as a tiny, 12” PowerBook. Since they are now made of anodized Aluminum (or Al-u-minium if you’re Jonathan Ives), I’m going to call them BigAl and LittleAl – remember, you heard it here first! Integrated 802.11g, Bluetooth, and back-lit keyboards are some other features.

So, on to software. iLife is the phrase of the week. Basically, iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, and iDVD have all been given steriods, and even though they remain separate applications, there is a very high degree of integration between them. Some of the features I thought really useful were archiving of iPhoto directly to CD or DVD, including slide shows with background music from iTunes if you like.

New versions of iMovie and iPhoto will be available for free download on January 25th. iDVD will not be available for free, “because it’s too big” (says Steve Jobs). A boxed version of all 4 applications will be $49US.

A new super-browser, named Safari, direct from Apple. Based on KDE’s KHTML library, Apple will be releasing their open source improvements back to the community today. I’ve already got it running as my main browser, and the only thing I miss from Chimera is tabs. Fast. FAST! Some other innovative features, like “snapback”, which takes you back to the top of a website, or to the start of your Google search results (Google is the integrated search).

Keynote was the only fully for-pay application – a presentation application that kicks PowerPoint up and down the street, as well allowing for import of existing PowerPoint documents.

Something that didn’t come up in Jobs’ speech was X11. Apple released a beta version of their own distribution of Xfree86, including a Quartz-compatible window manager that is OpenGL accelerated. Just like everything else from Apple, it’s a one-click install that….just works.

Finally, Jobs publicly announced that 802.11a, the higher-speed/incompatible wireless standard, would fail. Apple is backing 802.11g, calling it “Airport Extreme”. The new basestations support bridging and USB printer sharing, and work with both 802.11b/g clients. And, of course, the new PowerBooks both have built-in Bluetooth.


More of a summary than tons of thoughts and opinions. The 12” PowerBook is the first “affordable” PowerBook for me – I would definitely take a PB-class notebook over an iBook. Before, I couldn’t consider a PowerBook because it was simply way out of my price range. Not only does LittleAl meet a better price point, it also fulfills the main purpose of a notebook – portability!

Of course, I did keep expecting Steve Jobs to fold over the screens of the two PowerBooks and show us that they were actually tablets…