Real Networks announced a public beta of their RealOne media player. This is a pleasant surprise to many Mac OS X users; the release of a RealOne player for Mac OS X has been anticipated, debated, and requested for some time. The beta player, announced this morning and released (quietly) last night, is available as a free download today.
Mac OS X 10.2: Jaguar was officially announced, although the system has been in leaked-beta test form for some time, along with having a small page on Apple's website. The system reportedly boasts over 150 new features, including spring-loaded folders, Finder search, desktop background switching, .Mac integration, and Sherlock 3 (see below). Disappointingly, the system will be a full-price ($129) upgrade to anyone who purchased a Mac without 10.2 on or before 7/16/02. Persons purchasing a Mac today or later will get it for free from an authorized Apple Store/retailer, or for $20 through the website. It will be available for purchase and upgrade on August 24th.
Sherlock 3 appears to finally have graduated into a full-fledged system and internet search utility. Formerly a poorly-implemented version of the upcoming software, with it's roots in a simple find box, Sherlock 3 boasts many new features. It offers everything from disk searching, to eBay auctions, flight planning, yellow pages, stocks, and text translation software.
iCal, which will be a free download from Apple's website in September, is a free, and unanticipated, calendar application from Apple. It boasts internet connectivity for calendar sharing.
iSync, another unexpected application, was also announced. The app promises synchronization between your Mac, your cell phone (Bluetooth equipped), your iPod, .Mac (see below), and your Palm pilot.
iTunes 3 was also announced, a free download as of today, boasting many new features. Included is connectivity to audible.com, Smart Playlists, Sound Check and Track Ratings, Join Tracks, import/export of playlists, and play-count MP3 tags (among other things). The Smart Playlists feature is especially exciting, offering the ability to have a playlist automatically update its tracks when a particular artists's songs are added or removed from the general library, among other things.
Rest In Peace, iTools. To the dismay of Mac users and Keynote-goers worldwide, Mr. Jobs announced the end of the free iTools service, which was first started with the release of Mac OS 9. The previously free service, now renamed ".Mac," will no longer be free -- it now boasts an annual pricetag of $100 ($50 for the first year for current members). Although the announcement was laden with typical Jobs-hype and new features (virus protection software, a larger iDisk, more email space, etc.), the announcement was greeted with stony silence instead of the expected applause.
iTools was originally a hyped service for Mac OS 9. You would sign up, get 20MB of free online storage space, an email account, greeting cards, some web space, online "photo albums", and a few other things. Later, they added the ability to upgrade your iDisk (20MB storage) to a higher limit, with an annual payment. This latest revision changes the name from "iTools" to ".Mac," and removes the possibility of a free service.
On a lighter note, the iPod underwent major changes. The 5GB model's price was lowered to a rocky $299, and the 10GB version was lowered to $399. Thankfully, and to little surprise, Mr. Jobs also announced a 20GB version of the iPod, which goes for the standard $499. The new models boast a solid-state jog wheel and "FireWire door" to protect the sensitive ports, and the 10GB and 20GB models also come with a wired remote, carrying case, and 10% thinner width. The software for the iPod was updated using iTunes 3; the new iPods use all of iTunes 3's new features (see above) as well as iCal support (see above). The new iPods will be in stores in August, with the new accessories being made available to current owners for $39.
To the joy of many PC users, Mr. Jobs also announced that Apple has been working with Musicmatch software, and will be providing PC support. The Windows versions of the iPods will also be in stores in August.
QuickTime 6, a free download for Mac and Windows users, was also shown. Among other things, it boasts new MPEG4 support, Flash 5 support, better streaming, and a slightly updated interface.
Finally, a new version of the iMac was also announced, as expected. The new model boasts a 17" flatpanel LCD screen, with cinematic aspect ratios and 1440x900 pixels. It also carries a nVidia GeForce4 graphics card, and a pricetag of $1,999. It will also be available in August.