UPDATE 2: Watch Steve Job’s WWDC 2006 keynote
Unless you live on the other side of the universe, you should have heard about Apple’s announcements at their Worldwide Developer Conference today.
My Apple buddies back in Singapore pulled me into an AIM chatroom while I stayed tune via MacRumor’s IRC channel. Peter also rang me in on Engadget’s live photo stream which was a delight. I also found photo updates via flickr tag: WWDC so you can see things from the attendees’ perspective.
While chatting, Peter reminded me on how AppleInsider.com was very accurate with their prediction of the Mac Pro back in July, right down to the artist rendition which sports the dual optical drives and upper power supply unit.
As you can see, Leopard (Mac OS 10.5) has a ton of new features. Some of it is fluff to me, but I do have my Top Five Favorite Leopard Features which I’m really looking forward to:
1. iChat’s Screen-Sharing
The new iChat has does way more now, but nothing more useful than screen-sharing. I finally get to show my overseas family and friends how to do whatever they want on their Macs. I used to stuggle with emailing with screenshots and talking them through how-tos, which was time-consuming. With screen-sharing, we can just connect via iChat, and I can take control of their desktop, showing them remotely how to change preferences, fix small problems and so on. It’s also great as a collaborative tool for planning trips or managing projects together. Presenting Keynote slides via iChat is also godsent.
2. Time Machine
Leopard features an automated backup system called Time Machine. A lot of us believe it mimics how source code sharing and wikis have “versioning”, and while many fear it is likely to eat up more hard drive space, I suspect that there could be a special compression algorithm involved to allow the experience to not just appear painless, but seamless. To top it all off, Apple’s slickness is reflected in how you navigate through past files using a visual timeline where you warp through the desktop to find what you need. As if that weren’t enough, Spotlight now doesn’t just search your desktop, as well as you network (new!), but also allows you to search back in time! Top that Vista!
3. iCal Collaboration
Apple’s iCal wasn’t demoed at the WWDC keynote, but the new version has an overhaul which makes it on par, if not better than, Google Calendar. Now everyone in your group, family, or company can share calendars, schedule events, and exchange information using iCal. Thanks to the calendaring standard called CalDav, you can see who’s available for meetings, apparently reserve meeting rooms and equipment, as well as share files with attendees via an Event Dropbox. There’s even a new Auto Schedule feature finds the best time for everyone to meet!
4. Mail = Email + RSS + Notes + To-do
Mail has turned from a simple email app into a stronger information management application. Now you get to have slick templates for your emails, just like how you do in iWeb (see template gallery). Also, not shown in the demo was how Mail now lets you read RSS feeds (finally!). Equally important, we now have the ability to manage notes (I often email myself reminders), as well as To-Dos, which is also tracked in iCal. These notes and to-dos are tracked system-wide, which means that all kinds of services can interact with your plans, giving the OS the potential to assist you in more ways than before. We’ll have to see how Apple plans to tap on this in the future.
5. WebClips & DashCode
Dashboard widgets are like kitchen appliances, unlike full-blown apps, they are designed for singular purpose. The newer Dashboard features two things which makes it even more useful: WebClips and DashCode. WebClips allows anyone to generate a widget out of any web page. I think of this as something like Microsoft’s Active Desktop, but in a more elegantly compact form which is more useful. For example, I have a webcam looking at my ETC front desk and I’ve like to have it in the background instead of dedicating a browser page. All I have to do is webclip it, and select the region I want as the widget. The keynote demo showed this in just four clicks. DashCode is useful for situations where I want to have less tech-savvy friends keep track of things online. For instance, if I want my mom to be able to see all my recent photos, I can easily generate a photostream widget just for her. The idea is that you can now build widgets for limited audiences pretty easily.
There’s my top five favorite features of Leopard.
Watch the video demos and tell me what’s yours!
Aside: If you paid attention to the audio or video stream, you’d notice that Steve never said his trademark “One more thing…”. I suspect something was due to appear, but was yanked at the last minute. With refurb video iPods at only $199 now, I’d say a new iPod should be out really really soon.