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Apple CEO upfront at developer conference

Apple CEO upfront at developer conference

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference kicked off on Monday in San Francisco with a keynote address, by Steve Jobs.

Leopard

The first new feature of Leopard on exhibit during Jobs' keynote is a new desktop. The default blue pattern of old is gone, replaced with something showing grass with dew. But more to the point, a menu bar now adapts to what you put on the backdrop. The desktop is now translucent and the dock is more translucent than before.

Stacks are a new feature that let you group icons within the dock -- you click and a collection of icons pop up from a single folder. The new feature mimics popular third-party add-ons and dock replacement software, but with much more visual pizzazz, with glass reflective surfaces and vertical arrangements.

Jobs also noted that a new folder has been added to the dock called Downloads. By and large, users clutter their desktops by adding downloaded files to them -- this helps clear the average desktop of much of its clutter.

Leopard's Finder has also gotten an extensive upgrade. Spotlight, for example, is now capable of being used to search other Macs and servers on the network. A new Sidebar has been cleaned up, as well, with devices, shared items, places and such in groups.

"Quick Look is great," said Jobs, moving on to another new feature of Leopard. "Quick Look lets you instant preview files without opening applications."

Quick Looks is based on a plug-in architecture so it can be expanded to work with any file type. As it stands now, the feature provides live file previews for text, images, movies, PDF files, Microsoft Word and Excel documents, among others. To demo the feature, Jobs found a file -- a QuickTime trailer of the forthcoming Disney/Pixar film "Ratatouille." Hitting the space bar on his keyboard caused the movie to start playing, expanded on the screen. Clicking the movie caused it to go full screen.

Jobs also demonstrated Core Animation, which enables developers to perform extensive animation capabilities within their apps simply by calling forth core technology in the operating system, similar to how Tiger's Core Image and Core Audio technology works.

"Boot Camp's pretty amazing," said Jobs, moving on to another major feature of Leopard on display at this keynote. "Since we put it out a little over a year ago, we've had over 2.5 million downloads of the beta. With Leopard, Boot Camp is now going to be build in. It lets you run Windows XP and Vista at native speed."

Jobs said that with the Leopard implementation of Vista, users will no longer have to burn a CD of Windows drivers or install those drivers separately -- it will be built in to the operating system.

Users concerned that Leopard would devalue third-party virtualisation software like Parallels Desktop for Mac or VMware Fusion need not worry. Jobs called Boot Camp "a great complement" to those products and said, "There are three great ways to run Windows on a Mac." Apple is helping VMware and Parallels "as much as we can," said Jobs.

Taking another opportunity to fire some sarcasm at Microsoft, Jobs said, "We've got a basic version, which is going to cost $129. We've got a Premium version, which is gonna cost $129. We've got a business version, $129. We've got an enterprise version, $129. And we've got the ultimate version, we're throwing everything into it, it's $129. We think most people will buy the ultimate version."

Safari

"There are now more than 18 million Safari users. And if you look at Safari's market share, it has climbed from zero to five percent across the entire internet."

Showing the relative market share for other Browsers, Safari is solidly in third place, behind Microsoft Internet Explorer (with 78 percent) and Mozilla Firefox (with 15 percent). Other browsers are estimated at two percent. Apple hopes to grow Safari's marketshare dramatically, said Jobs.

"The Mac's market share is great, but we want to grow, and in order to do that we have to create a version of Safari for Windows. And that's exactly what we have done," said Jobs.

Safari 3 works on Mac OS X, Windows XP and Windows Vista, said Jobs. He showed some benchmarks that demonstrate Safari for Windows running twice as fast as Internet Explorer when loading web pages and faster still with Javascript.

"So what we've got is the most innovative browser in the world. but we've also got the fastest browser on Windows," said Jobs.

Apple is releasing a new public beta of Safari 3, both for Mac OS X and for Windows Jobs said.

The iPhone

The iPhone ships later this month -- June 29th, specifically. "I believe it's 6 pm in the evening when they'll go on sale," said Jobs.

"We have been trying to come up with a solution to expand the capabilities of iPhone by letting developers write great apps for it, and yet keep the iPhone reliable and secure. and we've come up with a very sweet solution," said Jobs.

This capability is being exposed through the full version of Safari that will run on the iPhone, said Jobs, using "Web 2.0"-style technologies like AJAX that will enable developers to create content that "looks and behaves exactly like apps," integrated with the iPhone and iPhone services.

"They can make a call, they can send an e-mail, they can look up a location on Google Maps," Jobs added for emphasis. What's more, distribution is simple because developers can put them up on their own servers, update the code themselves, and incorporate the built-in security that Web 2.0 applications provide.

"They run securely on the iPhone, so they don't compromise its reliability or security. And guess what? There's no [software development kit]. You've got everything you need, if you know how to write apps using existing Web standards," Jobs said.


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