Steve Jobs Introduces Tiger at WWDC 2004by Daniel H. Steinberg
WWDC is Apple's yearly Worldwide Developers Conference. This year, like last year, CEO Steve Jobs kicked off the five-day event in San Francisco's Moscone West with a keynote.
Now that Apple doesn't participate in the summer Macworld Expo in Boston, Jobs also used this address to roll out a new line of displays and to highlight recent hardware and music announcements. Most of the attention, however, was on the parts of the upcoming Tiger release that Apple is encouraging developers to incorporate into their applications.
The public release is targeted for the first half of next year. Developers were given an early access version of Tiger, together with developer tools that included SDK's for the new announcements. Dozens of slots that had been labeled TBA on the program schedule were filled with sessions on the newly unveiled technologies. But as the veil on the session descriptions came off, the NDA kicked in. As always, nothing but the opening keynote can be covered here yet. But keep watching MacDevCenter.com -- there are cool things coming.
Jobs began with a few updates for the 3,500 developers attending this year's WWDC. There are 80 Apple retail stores that serve 20 million customers each year. The key information for the audience was that these stores sell one-quarter of a billion dollars worth of third-party products. He reported that in the U.S. the iTunes Music Store has a 70 percent market share of legal downloads and that the launch in the UK, Germany, and France is already very successful.
The hardware announcements began with two music offerings. Jobs said that Apple studied where people listen to music. AirPort Express (with AirTunes) allows the streaming of music from a PC or Mac running iTunes to your stereo. He showed how iTunes automatically detects instances of AirPort Express and a pop-up allows you to easily stream to specified locations.
For listening in your car, BMW has made their 3 series, x5, x3, z4, and Mini Coopers iPod ready. You plug your iPod into a cable in the glove compartment that provides power and audio out. You can then control your iPod from buttons built in to the steering wheel.
Jobs then provided an overview of the PowerMacs that feature dual processors in every model and up to 2.5GHz at the high end. He acknowledged that they had not met last year's promise of 3GHz, but explained that speed increases for the whole industry has been small and that IBM's gain with the G5 from 2.0 to 2.5 in a year is twice the improvement of Intel's increase from 3.2 to 3.6. Jobs said, "We 're not pleased about missing 3, but we give you two of them."
The new announcement was expected to be displays. Jobs said that Apple's "competitors buy the panels we reject." He then introduced the new aluminum-enclosed display panels that come with 2 dual USB 2 ports and 2 Dual FireWire ports in the back. There is a single cable that comes off the back of the display that splits at the other end to DVI, USB, FireWire, and Power.
The two key notes here are that Apple is going to DVI for this new generation of displays. This means that the displays work with Mac and PC right out of the box and they work with PowerBooks. The second key feature is that the displays now require their own power brick.
In addition to the 20" and 23" displays, Jobs introduced the 30" 2560 x 1600 display. These will be available in August and only work with the PowerMac because it requires a new graphics card to drive it. In fact this card has two DVI connections. Each connection drives half of the screen. The card comes with a dual dual link so you can drive two screens.
The Transition is Over (Again)
Jobs turned his attention to software and reported that Panther was Apple's most successful OS release measured in terms of units or in terms of revenue. Apple now says that there are 12 million Mac OS X users. This represents over half of the installed base. As he did last year, Jobs declared the transition to Mac OS X is over.
He looked back at the three previous major OS transitions saying that moving from Apple II to Mac OS took many years starting in 1984. He said that a decade later when Windows copied the Mac well enough they were able to make their transition from DOS to Win 95. The current transition is from Mac OS to Mac OS X. Next, he said, is the transition from Win 95 and its successors to Longhorn. This explained the signs in the lobby that read "Introducing Longhorn," "Redmond, We have a problem," and "Redmond, start your photocopies."
"Starting today," said Jobs, "our focus is on Tiger." He stressed that this fifth major release of Mac OS X will ship in the first half of 2005, more than a year before Longhorn. The remainder of his talk was spent showcasing 10 of the new features included in Tiger; developers were given an early preview of Tiger along with developer toolkits for many of these features.
Taking a look at Tiger as a whole, Jobs said it will have 64-bit VM for any process, a 64-bit system library, be able to run 32-bit alongside 64-bit, and there will be LP64 support in GCC. Tiger will have better fine-grain locking for SMP, support for Access control lists, and have Xgrid built in.
Stealing the Spotlight from Longhorn
Search isn't sexy, but making it more powerful and easier will ease pain for many users. Steve Jobs said "we all have a zillion file folders. It is easier to use Google to find something from one of a billion web sites than on your own disk." Spotlight is a new search technology that uses the same metaphor as iTunes. You can perform a search based on content and document metadata. The search is fast and the results are easy to work with.
You can save a query as a smart folder as you would a custom playlist in iTunes. When you reopen the smart folder the search is re-executed. As an example of integration in existing applications, Jobs showed how you could highlight people in your address book who have a birthday in the next seven days. This search will always be up-to-date. You can create new mailboxes in your Mail.app based on searches and not on dragging a message into that mailbox.
One of the nicest demos was showing how Spotlight has been implemented in System Preferences. Sometimes you can't remember which preference menu you need to click on to set a particular preference. Enter your phrase into the search box and the relevant preference items are highlighted. If you come from a Windows background and don't know the correct Mac term, you can use a phrase such as "wallpaper" and the search will know that you want to find "desktop pictures." A magnifying glass will live in the upper right corner of the Tiger menubar. You can click it and get a search field. Enter a phrase and you get the top items. You can then drill down by category and also sort by kind, by date, and by people.
Steve Jobs next turned to H.264/AVC, which he described as the next generation of video. This High Definition DVD format boasts that it is both "super high-quality and ultra efficient." This codec scales all the way down to a 3G cellphone. Jobs reports that it is non-proprietary and open and is being built into Tiger.
As for the APIs, Core Image and Core Video will be the graphic equivalents of Core Audio. For performance the key is that image processing will not be done in the CPU but in the GPU. Phil Schiller demonstrated the use of some of the more than 100 filters and transitions that will be supplied. He applied filters to live video using a simple application built on top of these APIs.
Taking Inspiration from Third-Party Developers
Steve Jobs explained that "Dashboard is Expose for widgets." The audience at first thought, "Dashboard is Konfabulator from Apple." Although less controversial than the previous Watson/Sherlock controversy, the Konfabulator site had quickly posted, "Cupertino, start your photocopiers."
Although the creation of the individual widgets seems similar to Konfabulator's solution, Apple has focused on the overall user experience. Like Expose you can quickly hide and reveal your widgets. Having Dashboard integrated in the operating system should encourage more developers to write small widgets like clocks and web cams.
Editor's note: You can read the discussion about Dashboard and Konfabulator in Derrick Story's weblog. Be sure to check out some of the links in the TalkBacks, too.
Safari RSS is not really derivative of any one application, but it will now support RSS and Atom protocols. It auto detects RSS offerings and presents you with a blue RSS button in the address field. Click on this button and you see the RSS feeds for that page. Put this together with an RSS specific search field and you can have what Jobs refers to as a personal clipping service. You can store queries as bookmarks and run them as often as you like. This is not the same functionality provided by news readers such as Net NewsWire, but end users may perceive them as competing.
AppleScripters tell you how easy it is to write scripts. They contend that the words you would use to describe an action to a friend are almost exactly the words you would choose to script that action. Although this may be true for experienced AppleScripters who know which keywords to reach for along with the allowable grammar, this is not the case for the rest of us. Scripting is not as structured as programming and is not as natural as speaking. Apple has introduced "scripting for the rest of us" with Automator.
Developers and a large percent of the Apple customer base can use Automator to visually script applications. The demos made it look easy for an end user to customize his or her workflow with interactive or fully automated scripts. Categories appear from which you select actions. One action is visually linked to the next so that you can see that the results of each action are passed on to the next. You can save a workflow as a document and share it with other people. You can make the workflow more generic by having it ask for input at certain points and then save it as an extension for a designated application.
AppleScript guru Sal Soghoian demonstrated the creation of an Automator script that pulled images from a web site and prepared a DVD. Steve Jobs said he "can't wait to see what our customers do with these applications." He challenged the developers to think about ways that Automator could be used in conjunction with their applications. Small, focused applications can be more easily viewed as part of an integrated workflow. This is the Mac OS X GUI friendly version of piping from one UNIX tool to another.
Getting by with a Little Help . . .
Last year iChat went from text only to supporting audio and video chatting between you and another Mac user. Attendees at last year's WWDC keynote received an iSight so that they could experiment with these new features. This year, Jobs explained that in Tiger the video chat will be based on H.264. As a result, you will see a dramatic improvement in quality and a reduction in the bandwidth requirements.
Jobs demonstrated the next version of iChat being used to converse with multiple people. The interface makes it as easy to voice chat with a group of up to 10 people as it is to text message with a group. You can now video chat with three additional people. When you add a second person to your virtual meeting, the image of the first person is moved a bit to the side and angled in toward the center.
The result is something that feels just like a book with the faces of the two people with whom you are conversing on facing pages. When you invite a third person to join your conversations they appear on three panels: a single panel and two side panels gently angled. You can even see the reflection of these video windows on a shiny floor. It is tastefully done. I can't wait to try it out.