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Apple introduces displays, Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger

The attendees began taking their seats, the lights dimmed, and the Beatles played in the background. Wearing his usual attire, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage in San Francisco this afternoon to speak to a congregation of 3,500 registered Apple developers at its World Wide Developers Conference — a 17% percent increase in attendance from the previous year.

Jobs began with an emphasis on music: iTunes, the success of the iPod, and a recap of recent music related announcements such as iPod Your BMW and AirTunes. He talked about the integration of the iPod with the car and the living room, following with an Apple promotional video on the subject.

The spotlight soon turned towards Apple's professional offerings, where Jobs provided a recap of recent issues affecting Power Mac G5 speeds, noting that when shifting from 130nm to 90nm processors, the entire industry hit the wall at 90nm. Jobs cited these issues as an explanation of the relatively small speed increases to the Power Mac G5 line, but noted that IBM has seen a 25% increase in clockspeed compared to a 12% increase for Intel during the this learning period.

Apple Cinema Displays

Jobs then focused his attention on the introduction of 3 new Apple Cinema Displays.

Displays


The displays — 20-inch, 23-inch, and 30-inch — feature an aluminum enclosure with a one-piece stand and will cost $1299, $1999, and $3299, respectively. The new 30-inch display sports 4.1 million pixels and requires two DVI connections. This beast will also require a Power Mac G5 and a new $599 Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL graphics card, Jobs told the audience. All of the new displays feature FireWire and USB ports.

Mac OS X

Moving on to the main focus of the WWDC, Jobs said that Mac OS X has 12 thousand native applications and 12 million active users, accounting for half of Apple's OS user base. Jobs also commented on a recent encounter with Bill Gates, where Gates said he felt Microsoft's relationship with Apple is better than ever.

Jobs commented on several high profile software companies before inviting the general manager of Alias|Wavefront software onstage to introduce Maya Unlimited for Mac OS X. Alias officials said that Mac sales now account for over 25% of its worldwide sales.

Tiger

Beginning the first public discussion of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, Jobs said to expect Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger to ship in the first half of 2005.

Tiger will sport full 64-bit processing and will pack over 150 new features, of which some are "groundbreaking," Jobs said. One of the major areas of improvement in Tiger will be searching. Jobs said that Mac OS X users still have too many folders on their hard disk to search, but Apple has solved this problem.

Spotlight Search Technology

Introducing "Spotlight", Apple's new system-wide search technology, which uses the metadata already stored within files. Spotlight will allow Mac OS X users to search files, images, mail, calendars, and the address book, by attributes such as their creator and the last date they were accessed.

But Spotlight will go a step further than searching files. The technology will also allow users search for relevant information within existing applications and offers full content indexing of files such as PDF documents. A spotlight magnifying glass icon will appear in the upper right-hand corner of the Mac OS X title-bar, providing a pop-up list of relevant search criteria.

AppleInsider previously published a report on Apple's plans to implement metadata support in the Mac OS prior to the release of Microsoft's Longhorn OS, which is also said to make extensive use of metadata.

QuickTime

Moving along to QuickTime, Jobs reiterated company plans to adopt the H.264 Advanced Video Codec (AVC) in a new version of QuickTime, via the next-generation MPEG4 specification. Apple's QuickTime lead, Frank Cassanova, was invited onstage to perform a demo of the technology running on Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

Safari RSS Reader

Jobs then announced that the next major revision to Apple's Safari browser will feature a built in RSS reader. Users will gain the ability to aggregate their feeds and search through them via a new RSS Safari search feature, Jobs said.

Core Image library

Another new feature of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger will be a "Core Image" library for imaging and video. Core Image will utilize the GPU (graphics processing unit) rather than the CPU, sport FPU (floating point unit) precision, and featuring over 100 professional quality realtime filters (gaussian blurs, 3D effects, etc.) The API, much like Core Audio, will be available to any developer via a standard API, Jobs said.

.Mac Overhaul

As expected, Steve Jobs announced that .Mac retains over half a million subscribers and will receive significant updates in Tiger. The new .Mac will feature a syncing engine (built into Tiger) for .Mac users owning more than one Macintosh, and an updated preference panel that provides a central repository for controls relating to the the many features of .Mac.

Dashboard

Jobs also demonstrated "Dashboard" which he claims is "Exposé for Widgets" (much like Konfabulator). Dashboard will allow users to customize widgets that can control applications, perform system actions, seek data over the internet.

Automator

Tiger will also feature a new visual scripting application called Automator. The easy-to-use application features a hierarchical list of category-based actions which can be linked sequentially and pass data to each-other. Jobs said that Apple will be releasing a software developers kit (SDK) for Automator sometime today.

iChat

Wrapping up his keynote address, Jobs said that a new version of iChat will feature the QuickTime H.264 codec for video chats, providing significant improvements to video streaming quality. Jobs said that the new version of iChat will support audio conferences with up 10 people and video conferences with up to 3 people.

Concluding his keynote address, Jobs told conference attendees that they would be receiving a copy of Tiger on DVD.

A few screenshots of Tiger were recently sent to AppleInsider.