There were a plethora of announcements at Apple’s Back to the Mac media event today, including the introduction of new MacBook Air models, a new version of Apple’s iLife software suite, FaceTime for the Mac and previews of new features coming in the next version of Mac OS X, dubbed Lion.
iLife ’11, which is available starting today, was up first on the agenda, featuring major updates in iPhoto ’11, iMovie ’11 and GarageBand ’11. iPhoto ’11 gets new full screen modes and Facebook integration to post photos along with better in-application photo emailing features and new slideshow effects. iMovie ’11 has new audio editing features plus new themes and movie trailer templates. iMovie ’11 also gets face detection capabilities in its new People Finder feature. GarageBand ’11 gets new Groove Matching and Flex Time tools to help edit songs as well as additional guitar and piano lessons.
The next version of Mac OS X highlighted some exciting new features, all inspired by iOS. First, a Mac App Store is coming and it will operate much like the App Store on the iPad with app descriptions, user ratings, and one-click downloads. Dowloaded apps will be managed on the Mac through the new LaunchPad where apps can be viewed and organized into folders as they can be on iOS devices. The Mac App Store will be available in 90 days and developers can start submitting apps for inclusion in the new store in November. Apple plans to release Mac OS X Lion in the summer of 2011.
FaceTime, a new video calling feature that debuted with the iPhone 4, is coming to the Mac and a beta version of the software is available today. The new Mac FaceTime application enables video calling between Mac users and other FaceTime-capable devices including the iPhone 4 and 4th-generation iPod touch. The beta application, which requires Mac OS X version 10.6.4 or later, can be downloaded from Apple’s site here.
Two new MacBook Air models were the “one more thing” announcement at the close of the event. Steve Jobs introduced the 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch ultra-thin portable computers, starting at an aggressive price point of $999. Both models feature only flash storage from 64 GB up to 256 GB instead of traditional hard drives and have Core 2 Duo processors, 2 GB of RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics, glass trackpads, unibody construction, and stereo speakers. Both models are available starting today.
Additional coverage of today’s announcements and discussions are available over at MacRumors.com.
As we expected, there were no announcements made today about the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or App Store though we have the release of iOS 4.2 to look forward to in November. Also, Apple usually holds an event in early January each year and we expect to hear some iOS-related news in just a few months.