Apple on Tuesday introduced the widely-rumoured new Intel-powered desktop and notebook computers, promised a new version of Microsoft's Office for the Macs and announced the updated iLife suite of digital lifestyle applications.
Intel Powered Notebooks - The MacBook Pro
The long awaited update to Apple's notebook line was unveiled at the Macworld Conference and Expo at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Intel's Core Duo processor will be used inside a 15.4-inch MacBook Pro notebook as well as in a 17-inch and a 20-inch iMac computer. An iMac computer uses an all-in-one design where the computer's motherboard sits behind the display.
Another interesting feature is Apple's MagSafe power connector. How many of you have ever had your notebook go flying off your work surface when someone caught the power adapter on their foot. The MagSafe connector is a new power connector that is magnetically held in, so if the cord gets yanked it just pulls right off.
The MacBook Pro will not be available until February but Apple is taking orders for the systems as of Tuesday, Jobs said. Two versions will be available for US$1,999 and $2,499, respectively.
The $1999 model 1.6 will feature a core duo, 667 MHz FSB, 512mb, 80GB SATA, 4x superdrive, ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 (128MB), 1.67GHz. The $2499 model will be powered by a 1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI Mobility Radeon X1600(256MB) and will have a 100GB SATA HDD. The notebook ships in February.
Intel Powered Computers - The new iMac line
Apple also introduced new computers based on Intel chips, the first to result from its decision to switch from IBM PowerPC chips it had used for years. Paul Otellini, Intel's CEO, appeared on stage in a bunny suit to help with the introduction.
"We told Paul that we had spent the last decade learning everything there was about PowerPCs and we needed to learn that much about Intel processors in three to four months," Jobs said in an interview.
The new Apple computers are based on Intel Core Duo microchips and are set to begin shipping on Tuesday with the entire Macintosh line moving to Intel chips this year.
Apple's Steve Jobs said the company's new line of iMac computers -- two to three times faster than their G5-powered predecessors -- would come in the same shape and sizes as the existing G5 line of iMacs, with starting prices at $1,299.
Schiller of Microsoft, made the comments at Tuesday's Macworld Expo, where Microsoft also said it had signed a five-year pact with Apple to develop versions of Office for Macs and announced plans to release a version of Office that will be compatible with Apple's new Intel-based computers.
Microsoft will be releasing universal binaries with the next release of Office for Mac, however Apple worked with the company to ensure Office works well under Rosetta in the meantime. Rosetta is the application layer used to run old PowerPC-based applications on Intel based Macs.
Macs currently run Apple's own proprietary operating system, which competes with Windows. However, since Windows is much more dominant, Mac users don't necessarily have access to many software programs written only for Windows.
Radio iPod with remote control
Apple also unveiled a new remote control device featuring an FM radio for its iPod portable music players.
The radio remote feature will give new capabilities to the iPod nano and fifth generation iPods, the company said as it unveiled its latest high-tech toy that had industry pundits guessing as to what its next big thing would be.
"The iPod Radio Remote is a convenient way for music lovers to skip tracks and adjust the volume of their iPod even when it's in a pocket or backpack, and listen to FM radio stations while displaying station and song information on their iPod screen," the company said in a statement.
The iPod Radio Remote, which includes a pair of Apple headphones with a shorter cable, is available immediately for 49 dollars, the firm said.
Mac OS X 10.4.4, iLife '06
Apple also announced that it plans to release the Mac OS X 10.4.4, along with new Widgets from Google and ESPN. An address book and calendar Widget for Apple's Dashboard will also be available. 10.4.4 has long been rumored to be the version of Mac OS X compatible with Intel based Macs.
Mac OS 10.4.4 will power the new iMacs, and was widely rumored to be the first build that would support the Intel processor. All applications are native to Intel in this build, Jobs said, and would run on both the PowerPC and Intel platforms.
The company also announced that professional apps from Apple would become universal in March. If a customer has the latest PowerPC version, they would be able to upgrade to a universal binary for $49. Other companies, such as Quark, have begun to ship betas of compatible applications beginning today.
Apple is also issuing an update to its $79 iLife suite of applications, which CEO Steve Jobs called a "giant release" comprised of a new version of iPhoto with speed improvements and full-screen editing. Photos can also be shared over the Internet in what Apple calls "photocasting." Photocasting will require a .Mac subscription and uses RSS to receive photos. iLife also includes the ability to edit high-definition videos.