Ahhh... Pardon us while we bask in our traditional post-Stevenote glow. Granted, we didn't get to attend in person this time around, so we weren't subjected to the full, unfiltered force of a close-proximity unadulterated Reality Distortion Field, but it's surprising how much of a buzz still comes through from a QuickTime webcast piped through a Pismo's S-video port onto the living room TV set. And there's something to be said for skipping the folding chairs of the Javits Center and instead spending two hours watching from the comfort of the AtAT couch-- although we did have to get up every ten minutes to hit a key and wake the display because we forgot to turn off Energy Saver. Duh.
So there weren't any huge surprises, at least not to any Mac fans with an ear to the ground for the past few weeks. In terms of hardware, we got both the 17-inch iMac and the 20 GB iPod we all expected. iTunes 3 is now here, boasting a slew of nifty new features like Smart Playlists and automatic volume normalization-- and in fact we're playing Piebald's latest through it right now, so it apparently works just fine. (Incidentally, if you're wondering how the "60's Music" Smart Playlist knows which songs are from the '60s, it performs a complex audio-to-text routine and scans the resulting lyrics for the word "groovy.") Windows-compatible iPods are on their way, much to Mediafour's probable dismay. Mac OS X 10.2 has a solid release date of August 24th, but it's going to cost $129, which is a bit more than we expected. Meanwhile, iTools is no more, having morphed into .mac-- at a cost of $99 a year. Hmmm... come to think of it, quite a few of these surprises are of the "Wait, I'm going to have to pay how much?" type. Considering the bath we're currently taking on Apple stock, let's just say that we're a little bummed about the timing.
But hey, there were pleasant surprises, too-- like the debut of iCal, a nifty and free multi-calendar app, and iSync, free software that can synchronize iCal and Mac OS X's enhanced Address Book to iPods, Palm devices, and a few (currently, a very few... like, four) mobile phones-- even wirelessly over Bluetooth. Those ought to be fun to play with once they show up in September. Plus, as faithful viewer The Lame Camel noted, RealNetworks finally released a beta of RealOne Player for Mac OS X. And Alias|Wavefront, whose Mac version of Maya has so far been lagging behind what's available for Windows/UNIX, just announced Maya 4.5 for Mac OS X-- bringing feature parity to the Mac amid news that our beloved platform has gone from zero to a quarter of A|W's business in a mere nine months. (Developers take heed!)
But really, for our money, the biggest surprise of the keynote (well, other than the fact that those weren't Evian bottles with which Steve was hydrating himself-- what's up with that?) was twofold: firstly, that the Mac OS X 10.2 upgrade formerly known by its codename of Jaguar has evidently been renamed "Jagwire." The web site still lists the old name, but we're going to have to assume that Steve is the end-all be-all authority on such matters, and thus his word is law. And, of course, the other surprise is that as of 10.2, Apple is eschewing the traditional Aqua Blue motif in its Mac OS X packaging in favor of faux animal prints. We don't need to tell you that once you cross that line, there's no turning back. (We're guessing that the Naked Mole Rat is jumping for joy.) So Steve-- when oh when will we be able to order an iMac with zebra stripe detailing? The die has been cast; it's only a matter of time, now...