Before the conference: Rumour glut, news vacuum
It’s always the same in the weeks leading up to an Apple news event: A glut of rumours and an absolute dearth of real news. This year is no exception. We’ve had thick and thin MacBook Pros, selective or a total revision of the laptop range, not to mention speculation on the dates for implementing Mountain Lion and iOS6.
This evening, London time, we should get the real facts when the World Wide Developers’ Conference gets under way in San Francisco. For most of us, it’s a question of what’s in it for me. We all look forward to the chance of updating our systems or equipment, deciding whether or not there’s another year of life left in the old MacBook Air. We all look forward to hearing the new features of iOS6 and when they will be available, and we all hope that Mountain Lion will come sooner rather than later.
Here’s my very personal pick-list of wants:
My 2010 MacBook Air has been the best Mac I’ve ever owned. It is still performing far better could be expected, largely due to the speed of the 128GB solid-state disk. It is time to update and I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a significant step up for the 11in model. High on my wish list is a retina display, followed by a faster processor and the opportunity to upgrade to a 256GB SSD, which was not an option in 2010.
I am also keeping an eye on the current 13in MacBook. I’m charged with buying one for a friend in Greece and will be looking for a discounted or “refurbished” model, assuming that a new version is announced today. My friend will be happy with the current model; he definitely wants a DVD drive and isn’t fazed by the weight. After this evening I have precisely two weeks to find a cheap MacBook and get it prepped for Greece.
I also know of at least two friends who have put off buying a new iMac in the hope that this week will bring news of an upgrade, so there will be disappointment if the entire Mac range is not tweaked, however minimally.
iOS and the iPhone
We already know (from the signage seen in the conference foyer) that iOS 6 will be launched this week. I’m pretty happy with the current operating system, especially since we were freed from the umbilical chord to iTunes last October, but I will be keen to see what improvements Apple has in store for us.
One enhancement that has been strongly tipped is a change from Google to Apple maps. Already we have heard stories of Apple hiring a fleet of spy planes to provide much more detailed mapping information. If this launch is successful and doesn’t cause a consumer backlash, it will be a blow for Google.
The launch date for iOS 6 will almost certainly coincide with the introduction of the next generation iPhone, probably in October. Details of the new iPhone will not be announced this week, but developers at the conference need to know the OS basics in advance so they can plan for the launch.
Synchronisation and cloud storage is now essential. Apple already has the most controlled (in the nicest possible way) environment and the best syncing of personal data, but others are catching up. iCloud is already a vital component of the eco-system and this week’s enhancements will help keep Apple ahead of the game.
OS X Mountain Lion
I never get too excited about the latest Mac operating system and we already know that Mountain Lion will be an incremental upgrade of last year’s Lion. I’m not a power user, except perhaps in terms of RAW picture processing in Aperture, and most of what I do is undemanding and served perfectly well with Lion. Perversely, I am most looking forward to the introduction of Notes and Reminders to synchronise with the existing iOS apps. And it will be good to finally have convergence, in name at least, with Calendar and Contacts (goodbye iCal and Address Book).
Mountain Lion will also offer increasing convergence with iOS in appearance and function, but Apple will do this in a logical way, step by step, and avoid the problems that Microsoft seem to have created by rushing too fast into incorporating the Metro interface into Windows 8. We are certainly not expecting touch-screen Macs in the foreseeable future, although I, like many, constantly find myself stabbing the Air’s screen when I forget I am not using the iPad.
I doubt that anything in the Mountain Lion review will raise any eyebrows and we are told that the new OS will be made available “before the end of the summer”. Here in London that date has already arrived, but Apple is probably working on the California season.
There is a good chance a new SDK for the Apple TV will be announced this week, thus enabling developers to launch iPhone-style apps. This will be a very welcome development (BBC iPlayer, anyone?) and could be the precursor to the launch of the much-predicted Apple television early next year.
We could also get some surprises on peripherals and accessories. I am watching in particular for any developments in wifi. My home network needs upgrading, largely because my four Airport Express network extenders are too old to be upgraded and need replacement. I’ve been holding off any purchases to see if there will be new models coming in the near future.
The presentation today has the makings of providing something for everyone. As the story unfolds, there is great comfort in knowing than he rumour mill, at least, will be quiet for a few weeks and we can start dealing with fact.