Apple Unveils New iMac with Intel Chip at the 2006 Macworld Expo

by E. "Doc" Smith on January 11, 2006

With Mayor Gavin Newsom and former Presidential candidate Al Gore amongst the VIPs and Apple faithful, Apple CEO Steve Jobs opened the 2006 Macworld Expo with highlights of Apple’s 2005 successes, an introduction of updated applications, and climaxed the presentation with the unveiling of the new iMac and MacBook Pro, the first Apple computers to incorporate the new Intel Core dual processor chip, a chip that Jobs demonstrated runs two to three times faster than any of the previous Macs. Macworld’s Peter Cohen gives a complete overview of what else is new, and what’s to come in 2006.

iPod and iTunes

Jobs said that Apple sold 14 million iPods this holiday season, compared to 4.5 million for the 2004 holiday season — that averaged to more than 100 sold every minute. The total number of iPods Apple has sold since the music play was first introduced in 2001 — 42 million.

Apple has sold 850 million songs through its iTunes Music Store. Jobs said that 3 million songs are being sold per day, worldwide — a run rate of more than 1 billion songs per year. TV show sales have been going well since they were introduced this past fall: Eight million have been sold and downloaded from iTunes since the video service went online in mid-October.

Apple’s new $49 iPod remote control sports an integrated FM tuner, making it possible for iPod users to listen to FM radio stations while they use their iPods. The station frequency is displayed on the iPod’s screen. It’s compatible with current models. It’s on sale today.

ABC Sports and ESPN content is now available through iTunes — last week’s Rose Bowl was the top-selling sports program on iTunes, said Jobs. Jobs also used his time on the keynote stage to discuss Apple’s recent integration with Chrysler vehicles — as was recently announced, most of the new 2006 model year vehicles from Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge feature built-in iPod connectivity as an option. Forty percent of cars sold in the United States have iPod integration as an option, according to Jobs.

Mac OS X v10.4.4

Mac OS X v10.4 “Tiger’s” Dashboard feature has been a big success, according to Jobs: More than 1500 Dashboard widgets have already been created. Apple on Tuesday will release Mac OS X v10.4.4, the latest incremental update to Tiger — which includes updates to Dashboard including a new Google widget. Also new is an ESPN sports score widget, a “white pages,” calendaring widget, ski conditions and new widget that works with Apple’s Address Book application.

iLife ‘06

Apple on Tuesday also announced a major update to its iLife package — iLife ‘06. Calling it a “giant new release,” Jobs touted the dramatically improved speed of iPhoto, which also includes new one-click effects. iPhoto features a new limit of 250,000 photos. New full-screen editing has been added to this release.

A major new feature of iLife ‘06 is what Apple calls “Photocasting.” Described as podcasting for photos, photocasting makes it possible to share photos over the Internet using one mouse-click. The photos are updated to your .Mac account, where users can subscribe to them using Really Simple Syndication (RSS). iPhoto also has a new greeting card creation feature, and the ability to create calendars using iPhoto images.

The new version of iMovie features the ability to open more than one project at a time. Trickling down from Apple’s pro video applications, iMovie now gains new real time titling effects. And, of course, with the introduction of the video-capable iPod, iMovie now supports the ability to export to iPod and create vidcasts — the video version of podcasts.

At long last, support for third-party DVD burners has finally come to Apple’s DVD creation software, iDVD. “Magic DVD” is a new feature that lets you create a DVD using drag and drop techniques, rather than having to manually assemble your project. Also, you can produce wide-screen menus for your DVD content. New themes and new slideshows have been added. Map view editing has also been enhanced.

Podcasting has been a major trend in 2005, with innumerable companies and individuals hopping on the bandwagon to produce audio files that they provide for download using RSS feeds. Last year Apple updated iTunes with podcasting support, and now Garageband gets the podcast treatment with new podcast studio features.

You can incorporate artwork and more than 200 different effects and sound snippets built-in to GarageBand in your podcasts. iChat, Apple’s own instant messaging, audio and video teleconferencing application, can now be used for podcasting. Ducking is a new feature that will automatically lower the volume of music when a voice track is introduced. A new World Music JamPack — an add-on for GarageBand — has also been produced.


The rumors were true: There’s also a new application bundled with iLife ‘06 called iWeb. iWeb has been developed to help iLife users share their content — photos, blogs, music, movies and more — through Web publishing. The integrated media browser provides you with direct access to the content managed by your other iLife applications.

iWeb supports one-click publishing to .Mac accounts, and features a variety of built-in templates, support for RSS feeds and more. A theme-based motif lets you create a coherent site and update it whenever the mood strikes without having to worry about breaking the site in the process.

iLife ‘06 is now available, and costs $79 — the same price as last year’s version. It’s also being bundled for free on new iMacs starting today. Jobs mentioned in passing that Apple’s .Mac service, a subscription-based online service that provides users with Web publishing, online synchronization and other tools and features, now has more than one million paying subscribers.

iWork ‘06

Last year Apple introduced a new product suite called iWork. The suite comprised Apple’s Keynote presentation software with a new word processor/page layout application called Pages. iWork has been updated for 2006. Shipping today, iWork ‘06 costs $79, same as before. There are no new applications in iWork ‘06, but new to this release is the ability to create 3D charts, more advanced imaging, masking, calculating tables and more. A 30-day free trial demo will be included on new Macs.

Intel inside the new iMac

Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini emerged from the stage in a white “bunny suit.” He called his company’s efforts to get their CPUs working on the Mac “energizing, challenging and fun.” “We’re a little head of schedule,” said Jobs, introducing the first Mac to feature an Intel microprocessor.

Using the new Core Duo chip from Intel, Apple’s new iMac, which goes on sale today in 17 and 20-inch versions, is two to three times faster than its predecessor, according to Jobs. It’s available in the same design as before, with the same prices. Both cores of the new dual-core Intel chip are faster than the G5 was, according to the benchmarks Jobs showed on the screen. Mac OS X v10.4.4, which ships on the new machine, is running natively on the Intel microprocessor. What’s more, Apple’s new iLife ‘06 and iWork ‘06 applications have been produced as “universal binaries,” which means they’ll also run natively.

Jobs indicated that Apple’s pro applications, including Final Cut Pro and Aperture, will be available in universal binaries starting in March. If you already own the software, you can trade up to the universal binary versions for $49.

For third-party pro application support, Microsoft is “on track” for universal binaries of Microsoft Office and Microsoft Messenger, but for now, the company has made sure that its software runs well using Rosetta, the emulation technology that makes it possible for Intel-based Macs to run PowerPC-optimized software. Quark is releasing a beta version of a QuarkXPress universal binary version today.

Calling it an “incredibly successful product,” Microsoft’s spokesperson Roz Ho reiterated its support for the Macintosh version of Microsoft Office, and told the crowd that the company is “here to stay.” “Rosetta is going to be a great bridge until we get all apps Universal,” said Jobs.

MacBook Pro

Of course, no Steve Jobs keynote would be complete without his trademark “one more thing.” This year’s was a doozy: a new laptop computer called the MacBook Pro. That’s right — no more PowerBook.

The MacBook pro features an Intel Duo Core chip that runs four to five times faster than the PowerBook G4, according to jobs — he called it the fastest notebook ever. All this, in a chassis that’s actually slimmer than Apple’s 17-inch PowerBook G4 model, and weighs in at 5.6 pounds. It features a 15.4-inch LCD screen that’s as bright as Apple’s desktop Cinema Displays.

The new MacBook Pro features a built-in iSight camera, much like Apple’s iMac systems, and an integrated InfraRed (IR) sensor supports Apple’s remote control, which can operate Front Row — the software that helps turn a Mac into a media center, which Apple first introduced in a refreshed iMac model in 2005.

Apple is taking orders today, but does not expect to begin shipping the MacBook Pro until sometime in February. A 1.67GHz model will cost $1,999. A 1.83GHz model will cost $2,499.

The keynote address closed with an image of Steve Jobs and Steve “Woz” Wozniak, who founded Apple on April Fool’s Day, 1976. April 1, 2006 will be Apple’s 30th anniversary.

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