Apple unveils new MacBook Air laptops, iLife '11 software suite

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

The new MacBook Air

In a Wednesday media event, Apple Inc. released a new lineup of MacBook Air laptops and the 2011 version of the company's iLife software suite. The "Back to the Mac" event also included a preview of Apple's forthcoming Mac OS X Lion operating system, to be released in mid-2011.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the new products at the Cupertino, California event, saying the company has "been inspired by the work [it has] done on the iPad, and [it wants] to bring it back to the Mac." Apple has plans to import more features of its iOS mobile operating system to the Mac OS X operating system.

Jobs announced today that the "Lion" release to OS X, which is scheduled for release next summer, will include more support for multitouch and a desktop version of the company's App Store. He said that the App Store will be available for Apple's current OS "Snow Leopard" within 90 days, and that applications can be submitted starting next month. Jobs also announced that a beta version of FaceTime, Apple's IOS video calling application, would be available for OS X users immediately. Several new applications will be added in OS X Lion, dubbed "Mission Control" and "Launchpad."

Cquote1.svg “Lion brings many of the best ideas from iPad back to the Mac, plus some fresh new ones like Mission Control that Mac users will really like. Lion has a ton of new features, and we hope the few we had time to preview today will give users a good idea of where we are headed.” Cquote2.svg

Steve Jobs

In his keynote address Wednesday, Jobs announced the release of Apple's iLife '11 software suite, which includes the iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand programs. iPhoto has new slide show templates, while iMovie has added audio editing capabilities. GarageBand now includes several new piano- and guitar-playing lessons. iLife '11 was released on Wednesday as a US$49 upgrade, and is also available free with new Mac purchases.

In another move to bring iOS functionality to Macintosh computers, Jobs announced an updated MacBook Air series of laptops, on sale now. The new MacBook Air uses flash memory rather than a traditional hard drive, and has no CD/DVD drive, an approach seen on the iPad tablet computer. In addition, the laptop's battery life has been extended, even though it is only 0.68 in (1.73 cm) thick and weighs less than 3 lbs (1.36 kg). "We think it’s the future of notebooks," said Jobs. There are now two models of the MacBook Air: an 11.6-inch (29.46-cm) version and a 13.3-inch (33.78-cm) model. Analyst Shawn Wu says the company "priced it really aggressively," referring to the computer's base price of US$999.

Jobs said that his company sold 13.7 million Macs last year, totaling US$22 billion. In the last financial quarter, Mac sales increased 22 percent, comprising 24 percent of total revenue for Apple. However, the original MacBook Air did not fare so well. Sales and hype over the first Air decreased soon after its introduction, and the line was overshadowed by the release of Apple's 13-inch (33.02-cm) MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air had not been significantly updated since 2008.


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