As a long time Apple Fan Boy I was very interested in what would be released yesterday at the special event. The rumor has been churning for quite some time on new iMacs and Steve did not disappoint. The new iMac is beautiful machine … great features, price, and performance. I have a 24″ iMac and I love it, so I can only imagine how nice the new ones are. Not quite compelling to buy one yet, but really a great all in one machine — but, let me be clear, if I could justify it any way it would already be on its way.
As an interesting aside, Steve at one point made the comment during the presentation that we live in an all in one world from a computing and digital lifestyle perspective. I tend to agree. For work I switched to being a portable user as my only machine a few years ago … and if you look at our faculty, staff, and students’ technology ownership you see that I am not alone. The vast majority of users on our campus are laptop users — laptops are all in one. So, for the desktop I still see the notion of the all in one as a very important one. The iMac fills that category better than any machine I know of. When I look at my other technology devices, they could learn a lot from the way Apple makes this stuff happen. The iMac at the hub of a digital lifestyle is very smart — especially given the way they have worked to align products to cover many phases of that life … software that manages digital assets and encourages you to create new ones, distribution devices that wirelessly sling content all over the place to devices that allow you to walk around with all of it, or connect to a TV anywhere in the house … just smart stuff. It is a strategy that has been brewing for a number of years now and seems to be working — at least in my house.
A few of the other notable things are the enhancements to iLife — the new iMovie in particular strikes me as being a major step forward in terms of all around functionality. It had always seemed to me that iMovie was sort of limited in that it was a production only environment. I guess in my mind I always felt that iTunes should never have been named iTunes, it should have been iMedia. What I was always after was a place to store and manage all my digital content (raw video clips, photos, music, compiled videos, PDF, etc) that could be manipulated and interacted with either internal to that application or via another one in a media viewer style. The rebirth of iMovie as both a production environment and a repository is very smart. I have perhaps hundreds of hours of digital video that is sitting on mini-DV tapes that I never watch, would not go back and import and compile, and have largely forgotten about. Now, with the new iMovie I can see myself spending the time to import all my video and having it at my fingertips ready to produce some nice short videos for the kids to watch. The other thing I need to do is buy a huge hard drive to store it all on.
The other thing that caught my attention was the overall enhancement to .Mac. I have been a longtime .Mac customer — back when it was actually free as a matter of fact. I have used the .Mac model as a talking point with lots of people when explaining how we should be making digital services easily available on campus. I am struck by the shift in focus for .Mac — the photo sharing utility, “.Mac Web Gallery” is very well designed. I spent some time this morning playing with an online example. Apple has brought forth some interesting, yet somewhat incomplete (IMHO), set of social opportunities to the party. Obviously .Mac always gave you a one direction distribution opportunity … you can call it sharing, but in my book sharing includes some sort of reciprocal action — not just me post pictures on a web page … I get nothing in return there. The reason I use Flickr is that it is social at its core — I have friends, family, and strangers who can look at my pictures and share with me their reactions to them. The new features of .Mac take sharing in a new direction — one I am very curious to see how it catches on. It gives you the ability to share access to your galleries in a new way — people can add their own photos to it. It doesn’t do comments, which keeps it out of the traditional view of the read/write web, but this whole “add your pictures to my pictures mash-up idea” is really interesting. I see big potential for class activities in that. I also see great opportunities for event sites to spring up with user generated content being added from left and right. I also understand that once you get it all set up, it integrates with the iPhone nicely. At any rate, the design of the finished web site it creates is first rate and the whole change in direction here is a welcome one for me … adding the ability to comment would be a next logical step.
Finally I noticed that Keynote received the ability to do voice overs in a native form. I don’t yet know if the resulting files can be shared as enhanced podcasts — if so, good stuff! If not, then I give it a WTF! The other notable (and very long overdue) is the ability to easily publish iWeb files to a space other than .Mac with ease. I have been begging Apple for this since before iWeb. I even wrote a whitepaper I shared with them about how the .Mac only publishing is a mistake in the higher education space where we give students lots of webspace to publish in. I am anxious to see how that works. So, yesterday I did something I don’t usually do — I ordered the new iLife, iWork, and the new keyboard with my own dollars becasue I need the software to bang on before the weekend.
All in all some very solid things. What do others think of the new stuff?