Jobs announces new MacBook Air and Mac OS X

Faith Merino · October 20, 2010 · Short URL:

The new MacBook is based entirely on flash technology and has a battery life of 7 hours

Apple’s much-anticipated “Back to the Mac” event streamed live Wednesday (on Macs and iOS devices only) and Steve Jobs made a couple of new announcements, including upgraded iLife features, the new Mac OS X (dubbed “Lion”), and the debut of the MacBook Air.  What I took from the event: my PC sucks. 

MacBook Air

The belle of the ball was the MacBook Air, which Jobs saved for the end of the event.  “What would happen if a Mac and an iPad hooked up?” Steve Jobs asked. The iPad has instant on, great battery life, amazing standby time, solid state storage, no optical or hard drives, and it’s thin and light for optimum mobility.

So cameth the MacBook Air.   “It’s like nothing we’ve ever created before,” said Jobs with a loving twinkle in his eye.

The thickest point on the MacBook Air is .68 inches thin and tapers down to .11 inches. It weighs just 2.9 pounds and has an aluminum unibody construction, complete with full-size keyboard and full size glass trackboard. Other features include a 13.3 inch LED backlit display, 1440x900 pixels (more pixels than on Macbook Pro), Core 2 Duo processor, NVIDIA GeForce graphics, full size keyboard, multitouch trackpad, and FaceTime camera.  

What is it missing?  The MacBook Air has no optical drive and no hard drive. It is based entirely on flash technology so that it supports instant on, is up to two times faster than hard-drives, is more reliable, 90% smaller and lighter, and allows for completely silent operation. 

Here’s the part that will bring a tear to your eye: battery life is 7 hours and standby is 30 days.  It makes me want to hurl my PC out the window and set it on fire in my front yard, like the dramatic climax of a bad breakup. 

Also available is an 11.6 inch MacBook Air that weighs 2.3 pounds and contains all of the same features as 13-inch, but with a battery life of 5 hours.  Pricing starts at $999 and—the kicker—both the 13-inch MacBook Air and the 11-inch version are available now.

Mac OS X—Lion

There have been seven major releases of Mac OS X in last decade, and the newest one has been dubbed “Lion.”  Jobs explained that Apple started with Mac OS X and created a version called iOS, perfected it, and now it’s offered in iPad. Inspired by innovations in iPad, Apple wants to bring features from the iPad “back to the Mac” (hence the name of the event).  Which features are coming to the Mac?

Multi-touch gestures, featuring a large trackpad under the keyboard (Jobs pointed out that Apple had considered using a touch-screen for the MacBook, but it is “ergonomically terrible—touch surfaces should be horizontal instead of vertical”).

 App Store: 7 billion apps have been downloaded from the app store and now users can download apps from the new Mac App Store, which will feature one-click downloads, free and paid apps, automatic installation, automatic app updates, and apps licensed on all personal Macs.

 Additionally, the MacBook will offer a new feature called Mission Control, which will allow users to view all of their open windows at once, including open apps, and swing through them and back.

The new Dashboard will also allow users to flick from window to window using their multi-touch trackboard just as they would on an iPhone or iPad touchscreen.

Lion will be available in Summer 2011, but the Mac App Store will be available 90 days from today on Snow Leopard. Apple will be accepting submissions from developers in November.


Another big announcement was the debut of FaceTime on MacBooks starting Wednesday.  There are currently 19 million FaceTime users, and now they will be able to connect from a MacBook as well as a mobile device.

iLife 11

Jobs also announced some new offerings for iLife, a suite of digital applications for photos, videos, and music available on the MacBook.  The new version announced today is iLife 11, which features new full screen modes, facebook enhancements, emailing photos, new slideshows, features for photo books, and letterpress cards.  The demoed apps included iPhoto, iMovie, and Garageband.

The new iPhoto features include the user’s ability to spend his/her entire time in iPhoto in full screen. The app also features maps with pinpoints where the user took photos. Click on it and you’ll go right to photos that were taken at specific location.  iPhoto also offers the option of creating an engaging slideshow complete with music track and templates. 

The new iPhoto also features a new way to share photos.  Users can email photos instantly by selecting pictures and clicking share, and an email containing the photos is ready to go with default templates, such as postcard template.  The sharing feature also allows users to share on Facebook, shows who has seen the photos, and what Facebook friends have said about them.

iMovie 11 features new audio editing, one-step effects, people finder, news and sports themes, and movie trailers, and has integrated face detection technology from iPhoto for use in movies.

Garageband 11 features include flex time, groove matching, more guitar amps and effects, new piano and guitar lessons, and a “How did I play?” feature.


Jobs and fellow execs listed off some interesting Mac facts and figures: the Mac made up 33% of Apple’s revenue 2009, which accounted for $22 billion.  If Mac were standalone, it would be number 110 in the fortune 500.

Apple has sold 13.7 million Macs in 2010–three times that of 2005, and the install base is shy of 50 million users worldwide.  Year-over-year growth is now 27% versus the PC’s 11%

Mac market growth 18 quarters in a row and now tops out with a 20.7% market share.  There are currently 600,000 registered Mac developers, growing at 30,000 per month. 

Some fun facts: 50% of Mac buyers are new to the Mac, and stores in China see the highest traffic of all Apple stores.

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