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Apple Tech at Macworld NY 2002

by Daniel H. Steinberg

My mom isn't going to pay $129 to upgrade to Jaguar next month. That's what she told me.

Here at O'Reilly, we do careful research for our stories -- so I called my mom. I talked to a lot of other people too and so this article is a look back at last week's keynote. The most discussed keynote news has been the pricing announcements for Jaguar and for the .mac repackaging of iTools. There were, however plenty of other items packed into the two-hour presentation. I know that other writers had to actually submit their stories during the event, but after last month's semi-coherent wrap-up of MacHack, my editor insisted that I rest a bit before writing the Macworld article.

Jaguar Ships Next Month

Much of the Jobs keynote was spent introducing the new and improved features of Jaguar, the 10.2 release of Mac OS X. The Jaguar logo is the familiar "X" sporting jaguar fur rendered by Pixar. Even the logo makes a statement that this is a significant upgrade to the OS. Most of the features were presented at the May WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) keynote and have already been covered.

New and Improved for Jaguar

Jobs began by noting that Apple is now the number one Unix supplier in the world, "bigger than Sun, bigger than Linux." He pointed out that the new Finder is multithreaded and faster. But the audience reacted more to the "little things": the return of spring-loaded folders to the OS and the integrated search in the Finder (as Jobs noted, now you can use the Finder to find things). The desktop background can now be configured to change periodically so you can cycle through images of your family during the day while you're at work.

QuickTime 6 was released earlier in the week and Jobs reported that there'd been one million downloads in the past day and a half. Jobs took this opportunity to take his first jab at Microsoft. He expressed his hope that MPEG-4 will be the end of the islands of proprietary formats. Jobs said he expects that everyone will embrace this new standard--except Microsoft. Apple's Phil Schiller compared the quality of the MPEG-4 video's smaller files with the MPEG-2 files that are the current standard. He also compared the smaller audio files using the AAC compression to the sound of existing MP3s. You'll want to do your own comparison in a more intimate setting than in a keynote presentation in the Javitz center.

Jaguar banner at the show.
Jaguar Above All: Despite everything else that happened at Macworld N.Y., Jaguar was indeed the top cat ... introduced by Apple's top dog, Steve Jobs during his keynote address.

Schiller's final demonstration showed the improvements to streaming with QuickTime 6. Schiller clicked to different points in a streaming movie and the image and sound were immediately responsive. He scrubbed through the movie. Surprisingly, the audience didn't respond with the enthusiasm that this demonstration generated at the developer's conference in May.

The Sherlock 3 demonstration was impressive. The focus for the new release is on Internet services. Jobs showed how to use Sherlock to track stocks, to check out items and track auctions on eBay, and to search for images based on strings such as "Joe DiMaggio" and "Homer Simpson." The movie option allows you to search local theatres to see what is playing. You can then view previews for the movies, look up show times, and even book tickets from participating theatres. He also used the "Yellow Pages" channel to look up local sushi restaurants. Sherlock 3 returned a list of local restaurants with a map to the selected restaurants. Perhaps this was an obvious next step for Sherlock but, as I noted in a Weblog, Sherlock 3 is a derivative of Karelia software's fine shareware program Watson. Karelia won Apple's award for the most innovative Mac OS X application.

The Mail and Address applications have also been improved in Jaguar. Mail has an integrated Junk Mail filter that uses adaptive, latent, semantic analysis to figure out which email messages are most likely junk. "Adaptive" means that you can train it and tweak it to generate fewer false positives and negatives (mail identified as junk that isn't and non-identified junk mail). The search box in Mail allows you to search all of your mail boxes and not just one at a time. One of the new iApps from Apple is iChat. This is an AIM-compatible chat client with a Mac-like look and feel.

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