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Mac Planet: Details released on new Macs


I was warned to get ready to run once the doors opened, even though I had access to the media area. This was true, and almost became unseemly, but I and the Australian journalists moved almost in a scrum and ended up about 16 metres from, and to the left of, the stage.

One thing I noticed here is that everyone laboriously says 'double-u double-u dee cee' instead of what you here amongst NZ developers: dub-dub-dee-cee.

Once seated, it's hard to type as the seats are close together. People keep standing up and photographing people standing up and taking photographs, as that's inevitably what happens. Every now and again everyone would rise as if something important was happening, but it was still 40 minutes before the keynote was due to start so it was more nervous excitement. Music pumps above the buzz of voices; the stage has that huge Apple logo and a line-up of water bottles for the presenters by the modest podium.

Tim Cook looks quite sprightly and youthful in person. As soon as he appeared beside the stage with Phil Schiller, dozens of arms with cameras appended went up into the air to record the moment. But this was still half an hour from show time. Lots of people are using the iPhone 4S and 5 Panorama ability to capture the crowd, which is still filtering in from the massive queue that went around the block.

Trapped in the media area for the next two hours, I'm glad I put a Odwalla fruit drink in my bag - seasoned Apple journalist Gary Barker tells me it's the only juice Steve Jobs would drink. It's the only brand I saw available at WWDC.

With ten minutes to go most were seated and the hubbub had settled to a steady drone.

Tim Cook took the stage after a short film extolling the virtues of focus and simplicity. This is the 24th WWDC, with attendees from 66 counties, and two thirds attending for the first time. He gave the official figure for how quickly the tickets sold out in - 71 seconds.

There were lots of figures - 407 Apple Stores around the world, including the new one in a 100 year old building in Berlin. Cook said the Stores are important to the communities they serve, and that in the US it's the destination of many annual school field trips. I won't recount all the figures as they'll come to the Herald in the official PR. Cook introduced Boris Sofman from Anki, a startup launching today at WWDC with an artificial intelligence app guiding actual little cars around a track. "This is a video game in the real world." Impressive. The Anki drive app is available from today. Cook took the stage again and thanked all developers for making such incredible apps.

Then he started talking Macs. The iMac is the US number one desktop, the MacBook the US number one laptop. Macs have grown 100 per cent in sales compared to 18 per cent for PCs over the last five years. Then Craig Frederighi took the stage to talk about OS X, and he immediately brought up the cat name conundrum.

The next ten years of MAc OS versions will be named after places in California. Now we know what the waves meant in the OS X banner: the first will be called OS X Mavericks, a surf location. Tabs have been added to the Finder, and also Tags which are like much smarter labels or keywords. But the biggest cheer was for multiple displays. Mavericks lets you assign your Dock and menus across multiple displays.

Windows can be merged into tabs, and they collate like-tagged documents into window sidebars. It's intuitive project management on the fly, since websites and different kinds of documents can all be tagged, and they can have more than one tag. The new multiple displays support means you can use the Full Screen display for different things on different screens, and it also supports Apple TV.

The new OS also has lots of speedups including memory compression and faster graphics routines. A lot of the optimisations are designed to improve battery life for laptops by up to 72 per cent thanks to smarter idle state coralling.

Safari for Mavericks has had a makeover as well, with a sidebar and lots of power saving and CPU efficiencies.

iCloud keychain is a way of holding all your different passwords across your Apple devices, encrypted; it can even generate random passwords for you. It also remembers your credit cards.

Notifications has been improved, and Calendar has no skeuomorphism. Typing in events will project weather and other location data.

Maps is now a Mac app too, and turn-by-turn directions can be produced and sent to your iPhone. Now that's handy. This mapping SDK will be available to developers. Also, iBooks for Mac is launching with the new OS, with full access to all the existing content, including graphically intensive and interactive textbooks. Notes can be added to aid your study, and these can be flipped through as study cards.

As for availability, Mavericks will be released in the northern summer but developers here will get it today.

Then Phil Schiller came on to talk about the MacBook Air. A new line (as suspected) was introduced with 'all day battery life', with the Intel Haswell CPU. These give up to 12 hours battery life. They have faster Wifi and flash drives, too, and Schiller announced a new AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule, in new designs to serve up that new wifi standard.

These start shipping today.

Finally, the Mac Pro. Yay! He underlined the importance of the Pro, and it has been totally redesigned for the next decade. It's a shiny cylinder. To the awestruck audience, Schiller proudly said "Can't innovate any more my ass!"

It's all built around a thermal core, with double the CPU power of the outgoing model, with the fastest RAM Apple has ever used, with new PCIe-based Flash drives, ten times faster than hard drives, and they're expandable up the wazoo. And yes they have Thunderbolt 2, backwards compatible to FireWire.

Dual workstation GPUs are installed, too, 2.5x faster than the previous graphics cards and supports up to three 4K displays on the built-in graphics.

"This is a Mac unlike anything we've ever made." It's much smaller, too, taking up only one eighth of the volume of the old aluminium tower, with one built-in handle on top. Truly awesome, with everyone as appreciative as I was. And it's designed in California and assembled in the US, available later this year.

Developers get a lunchtime session with it on the 11th, hosted by Pixar.

- NZ Herald

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