Rendezvous is still the coolest piece of the Jaguar release. Rendezvous is Apple's product name for Zero Configuration IP Networking. You can get more information at the ZeroConf site. The idea is that two computers connected via Ethernet or AirPort can communicate with each other. Sure, the classic Mac solution was to use AppleTalk and there are other solutions for other platforms. The goal is to find a common cross-platform solution.
Rendezvous features dynamic discovery and automatic configuration of other devices (not just computers) over IP. Some describe this as solving the "last foot" problem instead of the "last mile" problem. Rendezvous can help nearby devices connect without a network serving up DHCP. This dynamic discovery isn't exactly Jini, but from an end-user's experience many of the ideas are the same. It will be interesting to see how the Jini community takes advantage of Rendezvous.
As a first example of the technology, Jobs repeated the iTunes demonstration that he showed at the WWDC keynote in May. He opened up iTunes on his Mac. Phil Schiller then opened up his TiBook with iTunes running. As Schiller's PowerBook woke up, Jobs machine discovered it and automatically added Schiller's music library. Jobs could then play music from Schiller's library. The files never moved from one machine to the other, the music was actually streamed from Schiller's TiBook to Jobs' Mac. When Schiller closed his TiBook, Jobs no longer had access to the music.
The big Rendezvous news at the keynote is that Apple isn't the only company to embrace this standard. Epson, H-P, and LexMark are building Rendezvous into their network printers. Schiller took a document and opened up a print dialog. No printers were available. He connected the computer to the printer with a Cat 5 cable and the computer discovered the printer and listed it in the print dialog. Without any configuration, Schiller was able to print his document on a printer that his Mac discovered after he brought up the print dialog.
Apple understands the importance of Rendezvous and is taking advantage of it in its various applications. Apple also learned from the difficulties Sun Microsystems had in explaining Jini to developers. They worked out compelling demonstrations of a user feature enabled with Rendezvous. Later in the keynote when Jobs demonstrated iChat, Rendezvous allowed him to discover nearby people who wanted to chat with him. By showing demonstrations in three very different settings, Apple is helping developers understand where Rendezvous might be added to enhance their products.
The Digital Hub
Apple announced the rebranding of iTools as .mac. Jobs took another jab at Microsoft saying that the name was clearly derived from .NET but that "we're actually delivering stuff [and] we actually know what it means." Jobs tried to make the case that Apple is providing a lot of value and only charging a yearly subscription of $99.00 at a time when all of the online service providers are charging. Here he didn't make his case clearly enough. I walked away thinking that if I signed up my immediate family, it would cost me $396.00 each year. Fortunately, www.RAILheaddesign.com, one of the sites I read daily, straightened this issue out for me. It pointed out that Apple explains on its site that .mac members can "purchase up to ten additional email accounts for $10.00 each per year." There are restrictions on this, but that reduces my cost to $129 per year.
On the other hand, this is still pretty hefty. Why not offer the email accounts for $10.00 per year without the .mac membership? The full membership would come with the other perks such as 100Mb of iDisk storage, passwords for folders, backup, and anti-virus software, and support for new Jaguar applications. It seems to me that the email addresses for the mac.com domain were offered in a way that implied they would continue to be free. RAILheaddesign had another great tip when it pointed out that the clock for your yearly subscription begins when you actually subscribe. If you don't need the larger disk space, then don't subscribe until iTools is scheduled to go away in a couple of months.
The new version of iTunes is available online already at http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/index.html. The corresponding software for the iPod will be available in August. Jobs showed off some of the new features of iTunes, including the Smart Playlist options, which allows you to create playlists according to rules that you set. You can take advantage of the new five-star ratings system or the automatic count of how many times you play a particular song to generate custom playlists. iTunes will also now support audio books available from audible.com. You can take advantage of roundtrip bookmarking and listen to the books on your iPod while keeping track of where you are.
The iPod itself is getting slimmer and the 10Gb and new 20Gb models will come with a carrying case and a remote switch. This means you can move through your music without taking the iPod out of the case or out of your pocket. The accessories will also be made available to existing iPod owners. A Windows version of iPod will also be offered some time next month as a way of luring Windows users into Apple stores.
Jobs also introduced the new iApp, iCal. This allows you to create and mesh different calendars to keep track of different segments of your life. The iCal has features that allow you to share calendars over the Internet and to publish your calendar on .mac or on other Web servers. Jobs used the buzzwords publish and subscribe to describe the process of sharing calendars with others. Although iCal will be a free download in September, it will only work on Jaguar and not on the existing release of Mac OS X. Also you'll be able to display your iCal calendar on your iPod, along with your contacts.
To help you synchronize your data on your various machines and devices, Jobs also introduced iSync. This is like syncing your Palm on steroids. The iSync application shows all of your connected devices and allows you to customize what you will sync for each device. Apple's graphic of the digital hub now includes an image of a Palm and of a GPRS phone. This seems to indicate that Apple won't be providing devices for these spaces. iSync will also be a free download in September and will also require Jaguar. You can see that Apple is pushing applications that require Jaguar and that take advantage of.mac.