2006 has arguably been the most important year for Apple Computer since 1984, and the next chapter in Apple’s future will begin at the Worldwide Developers Conference when Steve Jobs will preview Mac OS X Leopard. Many rumors have been released and publicized for WWDC 2006 ever since Steve Job’s keynote at the 2005 WWDC, last year. Along with the preview, a new generation desktop Mac is speculated to be introduced to replace the PowerMac G5. Other products and services could also be announced in the keynote, including new Cinema Displays, Intel xServes, and new iPods. The chances of each product vary when it comes to probability of being announced.
Leopard Preview [5/5]
Ever Mac user has been waiting for a preview of Leopard for a very long time. From rumors, to screenshots, to video screenshots, to even a fake Leopard screenshot contest; Mac users will do anything to get any sort of information on Apple’s next operating system.
At least we know that we can count on getting a preview (finally) of Leopard in the WWDC keynote. Steve will likely go over all of the big new features and apps included in Leopard and may stumble over a few new features. The major anticipated new features are to be:
- Finder 10.5 – The current Finder in OS X Tiger is considered to be ancient code that needs to be rewritten, so it’s about time Apple worked on developing a new Finder with easier navigation, meta/Spotlight integration, etc. Tabbed file-browsing is also likely to appear in Finder 10.5 to browse directories without the need of separate windows, similar to Safari’s tabbed-browsing. I would also like to see FTP capabilities that allowed modifications of files on an FTP server. A bonus, in addition to the tight Spotlight integration, would be to include an application launcher similar to Butler or Quicksilver’s application launcher.
- GUI and appearance customization options – Leopard will also sport an iLife-like GUI with a new look and feel. Apple is likely to cut off any traces to the original Aqua interface by getting rid of the brushed metal and horizontal line window themes. Other rumors suggest that Apple can give more power to the user on customizing the GUI, such as transparency, colors, themes, etc. Animated icons and desktop pictures are also expected to come into the picture with Leopard’s new GUI.
- Networking – VNC (virtual networking client) integration within the system has also been rumored for Leopard, or a simpler version of Apple Remote Desktops could do the trick. Easier networking with Windows is also expected along with Leopard’s dual-boot utility (Boot Camp).
- ExposÃ©, Spotlight, and Dashboard – Leopard should also provide speed improvements to Spotlight and Dashboard for easier access to searches and widgets. ExposÃ© may include some minor changes such as window highlighting, GUI bug fixes (rounded corners), 3D perspectives, etc. Dashboard may include functionality to place widgets on the desktop without terminal hacks or other 3rd party software.
- Full-screen Applications – iPhoto and Aperture are two applications that include a full-screen option to take advantage of the entire screen to work in one single application. Leopard is to also include full-screen functionality in other applications, including Safari and other iLife apps.
- iChat 4.0 – iChat 4.0 is expected to be able to support tabbed-chatting and possibly VOiP-integration.
- Dual-Boot Utility (Boot Camp) – The initial release of Boot Camp 1.0 will likely be really different from Boot Camp beta 1. Hopefully Apple has been working on the Boot Camp drivers to include support for the iSight, the Apple infrared remote, right-clicking, keyboard backlighting, and keyboard shortcuts (display brightness and volume control). I also expect the Boot Camp installer will let users change the size of the Windows partition, as well as guide users through the crude Windows installer where you have to pick the correct partition to install Windows. Another great feature for Apple to implement into OS X would be the choice to “Restart into Windows XP”, so you don’t have to hold down the option key and select the Windows partition. Apple has probably gotten a hand on a Windows Vista installer and begun developing Boot Camp 1.0 to be compatible with Windows Vista, just in time for its release in 2007(?).
The Mac Pro [4/5]
The PowerMac G5 still remains as the only PowerPC desktop line on Apple’s consumer product line, and with Intel’s new Core 2 Duo chips, Apple has the perfect mix for an amazing machine for Pro-level users.
“Mac Pro” will most likely be the new name of the PowerMac. The possibility of a new case is also likely, possibly a smaller, simpler one than the current PowerMac G5.
iSight-integrated Cinema Displays [3/5]
Starting with the 3rd generation iMac G5s from last year, every Mac has received a built-in-iSight (besides the Intel Mac Mini). It is about time for an update to the Cinema Displays to give an iSight to Mac Mini and PowerMac/Mac Pro users. Hopefully the new Cinema Displays will include a price break to be a bit more competitive with other 3rd party displays.
Intel xServes [2/5]
A new generation Apple Servers could also possibly wind up in being released at WWDC with new Intel server chips. Personally, I think it is way to early for Apple to introduce a new Intel-based Server, but possibly the same time next year we can see new Intel xServes. If Apple introduced new servers that had major issues, the xServes could lose its reputation as a quality UNIX-based server and it could damage sales of servers to large organizations until Apple had enough time to fix the bugs.
New Video iPod, iTunes Movie Store, and new iPod Nano (2/5)
In response to the Zune project by Microsoft, Apple will probably release a widescreen video iPod with wi-fi, movie-playing functions, Bluetooth, and a new control interface (no-touch scroll-wheel). New iPod Nanos are expected sometime in Fall 2006 with 6 to 8 GB flash memory with iPod Mini-like enclosures. Chances of an iPod release at WWDC are low, considering it is WWDC not Macworld. Apple will likely release new iPods sometime in November in time for the holiday season and to battle Microsoft’s Zune project, also expected to be released in November.
The iPhone (iChat Mobile) [1/5]
Rumors of an Apple-branded cellphone have existed for years, and the rumors get more authentic each week. Clues to an iPhone were found hidden within the code of the last version of the iPod Updater, and a snapshot of a phone dubbed the “iChat Mobile” heated up the Apple phone rumors for this season. Don’t expect an iPhone at the WWDC, but don’t be surprised if you see Steve pull one out of his pocket. If Apple were to announce an iPhone, WWDC wouldn’t be the right time; they would most-likely wait until November when they announce the new iPod and iPod nano in a surprise keynote.