At Apple’s “A lot to cover” special event today, the company paraded out an hour and a half’s worth of new products and updates, including the release of OS X Mavericks, the new iPad Air and iPad Mini, Mac Pro, updated 13 and 15-inch MacBooks, and an updated suite of iLife apps.
OS X Mavericks
The operating system is free, and it’s available today. Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi prefaced the release with, “This one is a doozy.”
Available with a single-step upgrade from Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion or any MacBook dating back to 2007, Mavericks has a slew of new features. Its new compressed memory feature allocates graphics memory based on usage to optimize performance. The capability allows 6GB of data to fit into 4GB of system RAM.
(Beta feedback and a complete list of features: Users poke around OS X ‘Mavericks’)
Mavericks’ OpenCL uses memory sharing to move tasks running on the CPU to the GPU, taking advantage of the GPU’s greater computing power to complete tasks 1.8x faster, and 2x faster for image tasks.
A new finder window allows projects and documents to be labeled with multiple tags for easy search and organization. Click the title bar of any document to add one or more tags, or select a tag from a list.
In Safari, Mavericks introduces enhanced notifications, allowing users to respond within the pop-up bubble without leaving an application. It also adds website notifications when new content is posted. The new Safari Top Sites view generates a feed of shared links from followed users on social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
There’s also a new reader view, allowing user-accelerated scrolling directly from one article to the next without clicking out.
Finally, Mavericks has new Maps and Calendar apps that can integrate with each other to schedule a meeting and give real-time directions. If a meeting is scheduled in iCalendar, the Maps app extracts the location and gives weather info and travel times. The share menu can then send turn-by-turn directions with a flyover map view to an iPhone, and schedule reminder alerts for the meeting.
You can download Mavericks from the app store today.
The new Mac Pro, a small black cylindrical computer, was by far the most striking piece of new technology Apple unveiled. It has a single fan and a unified thermal core. The presenters called it the “future of the pro desktop,” focusing on its video editing, photography and music creation capabilities.
The Mac Pro holds the fastest processor ever in a Mac, an Intel Xeon E5, available in 4-, 6-, 8- and 12-core designs, and the fastest ECC memory: a 1,866MHz DDR3, four-channel controller. It has dual workstation GPUs, FirePro graphics, 4,096 stream processors, and dual 384-bit memory buses.
(A previous Apple product announcement: Apple unveils iOS 7)
Its Thunderbolt 2 flash-based storage and PCIe controller uses channel bonding and a 20GB throughput for up to 1.2GB reads and 1GB writes, ultimately providing one terabyte of storage.
The Mac Pro will go on sale in December for US$2,999.
Apple also introduced a new iPad, dubbed the iPad Air, the thinnest and lightest full-size tablet ever made. It has a 9.7-inch retina display, and its 7.5mm width is 43% thinner than the last iPad.
The iPad Air’s A7 chip doubles CPU and graphics speed, and includes faster WiFi with MIMO antennae technology. The iPad Air also has improved 1080p HD video, a 5MP iSight camera and new FaceTime HD camera, improved backside illumination, dual microphones, and a 10-hour battery life.
It comes in silver, white, space gray or black, and it starts at $499—the same price as the last iPad—or $629 with cellular technology. This knocks the iPad 2 price down to $399. The iPad Air starts shipping Nov. 1 worldwide.
The new iPad Mini has a 7.9-inch retina display and the same number of pixels as an iPad Air. Also powered by the A7 chip’s 64-bit architecture, it runs CPU tasks 4x faster and graphics tasks 8x faster than the previous iPad Mini, with a 10-hour battery life. The new iPad Mini also has the MIMO WiFi antennae, expanded LTE support, and the same improved iSight and FaceTime HD cameras.
It comes in the same colors, priced at $399 for the 16GB iPad Mini, and $529 for one with cellular technology. The original iPad Mini is bumped down to $299, and the new iPad Mini will be available in late November.