Jobs opens WWDC with Apple announcements

Steve Jobs opened up Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference with one of his trademark keynote speeches today. He discussed the new Airport Express and talked about the new "iPod Your BMW" promotion that allows you to add an iPod to a BMW and control it through the steering wheel controls. Jobs also addressed the recent PowerMac updates, blaming the delay on 3.0 GHz machines on IBM's manufacturing difficulties with the new 90nm process. He explained that all of the chip manufacturers are having problems with this process and said IBM is getting the kinks worked out.

As for new hardware, this refresh seems to be skimpy. Apple is announcing new monitors enclosed in aluminum cases to match the PowerMacs. They have ditched the ADB cable and have moved—finally!—to DVI. The cable will include DVI, Firewire, and USB and split off at the ends. The monitors themselves have Firewire and USB 2.0 hubs built in. It's not clear if the Firewire hub is Firewire 800 or 400.

Apple will now have monitor models at 20" and 23", plus a new 30" model. The 30" monitor will sell for $3299, while the 20" monitor will sell for $1299 and the 23" for $1999. Considering that Dell sells a similar 20" monitor with a 4:3 aspect ratio for $999 (or less if there is a sale on), the price seems high by at least $200. Firewire and USB hubs do add value, but if one doesn't need those features or the 16:9 aspect ratio, the price is a bit high.

The 30" monitor requires multiple DVI inputs to move pixels since no one DVI output on current cards can push out the 4.1 million pixels in its native resolution of 2560x1600. Apple has a new NVIDIA card that it will be selling for $599.

Jobs also discussed the coming OS 10.4 release, code-named Tiger. Among its new features:

  • Fully 64 bits
  • Spotlight - This feature is a global search function, much like what is used in iTunes. It can search through any file, any folder, and application to pull the data you want.
  • New codec - Quicktime to include H.264 into Quicktime. This codec is one of the new approved ones for HDDVD.
  • RSS Aggregation - Safari 2.0 will include an RSS agent which will also include a search function.
  • New graphics library called Core Image. This offloads all graphics functions to the video card, allowing for real-time filters.
  • Dashboard - This is a new function, very similar to Konfabulator, which is a Java-based platform for interactive widgets. These widgets can be programmed to do all sorts of things. There will be an SDK so anyone can program widgets.
  • Automator - Essentially a front end for AppleScript. It has a simple interface to allow even novice users to get the benefits of Applescript.
  • iChat update - iChat will soon use the new H.264 codec, allowing four people to video chat or ten people to voice chat at the same time.
For more, see the reports at MacNN, MacCentral, and Mac Rumors.
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