Currently running is the Macworld Conference and Expo, with Steve Jobs providing a keynote address with a number of new announcements, like the launch of the first Intel powered Macintosh.
At the heart of Apple's new iMacs, which share the same design as their old one (externally at least), is Intel's Core Duo processor - that's a dual core Yonah to you and I. Check out our Napa overview for some details on Yonah. This news is of course significant as it's the first ever x86 based iMac.
But the old CPUs were still pretty good, weren't they? According to Jobs the new iMacs are two to three times faster than previous models, so the old CPUs weren't that good, then? Marketing-ised benchmarks aside, now it's all about which applications will run natively on the x86 hardware. So far it's OS X 10.4.4 along with iLife '06 and iWork '06. More applications with 'universal binaries' are in the works, so that they may run natively on Apple hardware old or new.
Apple may be switching to x86 and sales of its iMacs and iBooks may be on the rise, but their prize product is still the iPod. They've sold 42 million of the little buggers since they first started producing them, 14 million of which were sold this non-denominational holiday season, roughly triple that of the previous year.
A new remote control is available for the iPod which can act as an FM receiver. Compatible with existing iPods and available from today, users can use the remote to listen to FM radio on their iPods. The new remote will cost you a princely $49.
Where would the iPod be without iTunes? Some 3 million songs are being sold a day, according to Jobs, with 850 million having being sold in total. As far as videos go, 8 million have been downloaded through the service since it launched a few months ago.
No more PowerBook
Apple do still produce a few products within an 'i' prefixed to them, PowerBook is one of them, sorry, was. Don't worry, they're not obliterating the high end laptop. They've got a new one, the MacBook Pro. They're slimmer, faster, swankier and generally better than the G4 PowerBook, Jobs says.
Powered by the Intel Core Duo processor, a 1.67GHz version will set you back $2k and a 1.83GHz model is mere chicken feed at $2.5k. They won't be available until February, however.
Throwing a few more 'i's around, there are a number of software package updates for 2006. The iLife '06 package, includes a faster version of iPhoto with support for a greater number of images and new one-click effects application. If you think you can handle any more whimsical new words, you might want to try out Photocasting, which to the rest of us is a way of uploading photos quickly and easily to your .Mac account. iMovie has also received a few upgrades, along with iDVD and iChat.
There's a new application in the iLife suite too: iWeb. It's basically a means for iLife users to upload and share content through their .Mac accounts (like the aforementioned Photocasting.) All in all Jobs is touting this as a pretty big upgrade to the iLife package.
Finally, iWork '06 has been released. iWork is Apple's office productivity software, featuring presentation software, word processing and so on. It costs the same as before, and doesn't include any new applications, but there is new functionality in the existing apps, including 3D chart drawing, for example.
Apple don't tend to give much away between events like this. In fact they their mouths closed just about any time other than launch day. That means we're bombarded by details of wonderful new Apple products. So how's it looking for Apple in 2006? Well, the iPod is more popular than ever and its iTunes service is only going to grow with it. Even if proper competition starts to surface there's plenty of people still to jump on-board the music download bandwagon for Apple to not see any detrimental effect.
Intel chips make their way into the Mac line-up, and at a good time - just as Intel comes to market with a power efficient dual core solution. The move will likely strengthen both companies. As for the software, your enthusiasm will likely be dictated by whether you're a blogcasting podwebber, or something like that. The focus of Jobs' keynote was mostly on the blogging generation then, but there was some stuff in there that'll please the professional user too.