At Apple’s event today, CEO Steve Jobs started with new updates to iLife and iPhoto, but the big finale was about bringing features that have been popular on the iPad and iPhone to the Mac. If you were waiting at all for the convergence of multiple screens in your life, this blurs the line and gets pretty darn close.
First, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) plans to extend its *FaceTime* video calling service from handheld devices, like the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch, to its Mac line-up of computers. But it also said it was expanding the App Store to the PC world as well. “I want to start with the App Store. We’ve taken everything that users love about the iPad and brought it to the Mac,” Jobs said, according to the Engadget live blog.
By extending FaceTime (NYSE: TWX) to the Mac, it pushes accessibility well beyond the 19 million people that Apple said already have access to it now. The Mac version will be released in beta starting today. Other companies like Qik and Tango have been working on these cross-platform solutions for some time.
The next OS release called Lion, which is coming in the summer of 2011, will have other iPad-like features. Essentially it will have an iPad layer that pops open to display a grid of apps on your desktop like the iPhone or iPad homescreen. A dashboard view allows you to use gestures and multi-touch (on your Mac!) to swipe from app to app. Apple wants developers to get started right away, so it will launch the Mac App Store on its current OS, Snow Leopard, within 90 days.
The kicker of the event was a new MacBook Air, which is 90 percent smaller and lighter than the old one. But the real innovation is that it’s similar to the iPad in that it has “instant on” capabilities, which means much less waiting between user sessions. “There is no optical drive, and there is no hard drive. We have gone to flash storage. Why do we do this?…Because we know the benefits from the iPad. Instant on.”
The MacBook Air will cost $999 for 64GB, $1199 for 128GB for the 11.6 inch, and the 13.3 inch is $1299 for 128GB, $1599 for 256GB starting today.