Mac News Review

Apple Previews 'Snow Leopard', Intros MobileMe, Announces Free iPod Offer for Education, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.06.13

PowerBook, iBook, MacBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

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Apple Previews Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Apple issued an official announcement of the next OS X version 10.6 Monday, and posted a Mac OS 10.6 web page, which is thin on detail but does underscore that Snow Leopard is real and, as the rumor mills speculated, will "take a break," as Apple puts it, from adding new features, but rather concentrate on streamlining Mac OS X, enhancing its performance, and polishing its solidity and quality.

PR: Apple previewed Mac OS X Snow Leopard, which builds on the incredible success of OS X Leopard and is the next major version of the world's most advanced operating system. Rather than focusing primarily on new features, Snow Leopard will enhance the performance of OS X, set a new standard for quality, and lay the foundation for future OS X innovation. Snow Leopard is optimized for multicore processors, taps into the vast computing power of graphic processing units (GPUs), enables breakthrough amounts of RAM, and features a new, modern media platform with QuickTime X. Snow Leopard includes out-of-the-box support for Microsoft Exchange 2007 and is scheduled to ship in about a year.

"We have delivered more than a thousand new features to OS X in just seven years, and Snow Leopard lays the foundation for thousands more," said Bertrand Serlet, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering. "In our continued effort to deliver the best user experience, we hit the pause button on new features to focus on perfecting the world's most advanced operating system."

Snow Leopard delivers unrivaled support for multicore processors with a new technology code-named "Grand Central," making it easy for developers to create programs that take full advantage of the power of multicore Macs. Snow Leopard further extends support for modern hardware with Open Computing Language (OpenCL), which lets any application tap into the vast gigaflops of GPU computing power previously available only to graphics applications. OpenCL is based on the C programming language and has been proposed as an open standard. Furthering OS X's lead in 64-bit technology, Snow Leopard raises the software limit on system memory up to a theoretical 16 TB of RAM.

Using media technology pioneered in OS X iPhone, Snow Leopard introduces QuickTime X, which optimizes support for modern audio and video formats resulting in extremely efficient media playback. Snow Leopard also includes Safari with the fastest implementation of JavaScript ever, increasing performance by 53%, making Web 2.0 applications feel more responsive.*

For the first time, OS X includes native support for Microsoft Exchange 2007 in OS X applications Mail, iCal, and Address Book, making it even easier to integrate Macs into organizations of any size.

*Performance will vary based on system configuration, network connection and other factors. Benchmark based on the SunSpider JavaScript Performance test on an iMac 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system running Mac OS X Snow Leopard, with 2 GB of RAM.

Apple Introduces MobileMe Internet Service

PR: Apple Monday introduced MobileMe, a new Internet service that delivers push email, push contacts, and push calendars from the MobileMe service in the "cloud" to native applications on iPhone, iPod touch, Macs, and PCs. MobileMe also provides a suite of elegant, ad-free web applications that deliver a desktop-like experience through any modern browser. MobileMe applications include Mail, Contacts, and Calendar, as well as Gallery for viewing and sharing photos and iDisk for storing and exchanging documents online.

MobileMe"Think of MobileMe as 'Exchange for the rest of us,'" said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Now users who are not part of an enterprise that runs Exchange can get the same push email, push calendars and push contacts that the big guys get."

With a MobileMe email account, all folders, messages, and status indicators look identical whether checking email on iPhone, iPod touch, a Mac, or a PC. New email messages are pushed instantly to iPhone over the cellular network or WiFi, removing the need to manually check email and wait for downloads. Push also keeps contacts and calendars continuously up-to-date, so changes made on one device are automatically pushed up to the cloud and down to other devices. Push works with the native applications on iPhone and iPod touch, Microsoft Outlook for the PC, and Mac OS X applications Mail, Address Book, and iCal, as well as the MobileMe web application suite.

MobileMe web applications are 100% ad-free and provide an incredible, desktop-like experience that allows users to drag and drop, click and drag, and even use keyboard shortcuts. MobileMe provides anywhere access to Mail, Contacts, and Calendar with a unified interface that allows users to switch between applications with a single click, and Gallery makes it easy to share photos on the Web in stunning quality. Gallery users can upload, rearrange, rotate, and title photos from any browser; post photos directly from an iPhone; allow visitors to download print quality images; and contribute photos to an album. MobileMe iDisk lets users store and manage files online with drag and drop filing and makes it easy to share documents too large to email by automatically sending an email with a link for downloading the file. MobileMe includes 20 GB of online storage that can be used for email, contacts, calendar, photos, movies, and documents.

MobileMe, available on July 11, is a subscription-based service with 20 GB of storage for $99 per year for individuals and $149 for a Family Pack, which includes one master account with 20 GB of storage and four Family Member accounts with 5 GB of storage each. Users can sign up for a free, 60-day MobileMe trial at, and current .mac members will be upgraded automatically to MobileMe accounts. MobileMe subscribers can purchase an additional 20 GB of storage for $49 or 40 GB of storage for $99 annually.

Using an iPhone or iPod touch with MobileMe requires iPhone 2.0 software and iTunes 7.7 or later. For use with a Mac, MobileMe requires Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.11 or the latest version of Mac OS X Leopard. For a PC, MobileMe requires Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional (SP2), and Microsoft Outlook 2003 or later is recommended. MobileMe is accessible on the Web via Safari 3, Internet Explorer 7, and Firefox 2 or later. Internet access requires a compatible ISP; fees may apply. Broadband Internet connection recommended. Some features require Mac OS X Leopard and iLife '08, available separately.

Apple Announces Buy a Mac, Get a Free iPod Offer for Education Buyers

PR: If you're a student, faculty, or staff member and you buy a Mac before September 15, you can get a free iPod touch or iPod nano.

Education only prices:

  • MacBook From $999
  • MacBook Air From $1,699
  • MacBook Pro From $1,799
  • iMac From $1,149

Which free iPod are you?

iPod touch puts email and the Internet in your pocket. iPod nano is the little music and video player that's big on personality. Deciding on one is almost as tough as choosing a major.

How to get your free iPod.

  1. Shop for a Mac. Shop the Apple Online Store or call 1-800-MY-APPLE. Find your favorite Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorized Campus Store.
  2. Buy an iPod. Purchase an 8 GB iPod touch or an 8 GB iPod nano with your Mac and qualify for a rebate of up to $299.
  3. Get your rebate. After you receive your Mac and iPod, submit your claim online by October 15. Simply click the Get Started button. Then log in and follow the instructions.

Note: Residents of Connecticut and Rhode Island, there are additional terms and conditions.

Call 877-427-5776 or read the FAQ page for more information

Macs 'One-Third Cheaper' to Run Than Windows in the Enterprise

9 To 5 Mac's Andy Space reports:

"New research confirms Macs have 33 per cent fewer problems than Windows PCs in a business environment - and that it's easier to resolve Mac problems than those with Windows.

"Nucleus Research has been conducting an in-depth study on Mac versus PC in the enterprise. Ian Campbell, CEO of the company, writes: 'We've been investigating the ROI from Macs versus PCs in the business environment. I was reviewing the data from a case study one of our analysts is completing and the results are interesting . . . In addition, the Mac trouble tickets are closed 30% quicker. To net it out, in this company the Macs have 1/3 fewer problems and the problems are solved a lot quicker."

Psystar Offers 10.5.3 Update for Open Computers

The Apple Core's Jason D. O'Grady reports:

"In an email to owners last night, Mac cloner Psystar announced that they've made available a version of Mac OS 10.5.3 that's safe to install on their Open Computer Mac clones. The update must be downloaded from Psystar's Web site and is not available via Software Update."


Leopard Boot DVDs for Data Rescue II and Drive Genius 2

PR: Prosoft Engineering, Inc., the developers of easy-to-use, award-winning utilities, has announced the immediate availability of Leopard Boot DVDs for both Drive Genius 2 and Data Rescue II.

"We are really excited that Apple has now released the Leopard Boot technology to third-party developers, which allows us to add booting support for all the latest Macs," said President, Greg Brewer. "Prosoft Engineering is the first developer known to ship these new Leopard Boot DVDs"

Data Rescue II and Drive Genius 2 are available for purchase online and at Apple Stores.

Current owners of Data Rescue II and Drive Genius 2 qualify to receive these new Boot DVDs for free. Details on how to receive these DVDs at no cost to current owners may be found here:

Pixelmator 1.2.1 Draftsman Update

PR: Pixelmator Team this week released the first update to Pixelmator 1.2 Draftsman, which is itself the second major milestone update to this innovative GPU-powered image editing tool, furnishing users with everything they need to create, edit, and enhance still images. Available today as a free software update, Pixelmator 1.2.1 Draftsman features rulers, guides, grid, snap, color balance, auto enhance, curves, and polygonal lasso tools and much more. The version 1.2.1 update includes a raft of bugfixes and feature enhancements (see list below), and is a 50 MB download.

New in version 1.2.1:

Bugs Corrected that Caused...

  • some of the Quartz Composer filters to show incorrect preview
  • selection inaccuracy sometimes when moving selected objects
  • the message "Your startup disk is almost full" to appear
  • printing problems after the dpi is increased
  • the picture to appear in an incorrect position after dragging it to the canvas area from the Photo Browser
  • selection-jumping problems when transforming selection after using the Magic Wand tool
  • adjustments or filters to be added to the wrong portion of an image for awhile after moving selection
  • Flip function not to work with selection
  • Last Filter command not to work after using Quartz Composer-based filter
  • Photo Browser to show Aperture 2 items as folders (no Aperture support yet)
  • palettes to appear white on some PowerPC-based Macs
  • incorrect opacity setting when choosing black from Scratch palette
  • transform controls not to be shown after launching application with Move tool selected
  • palettes to disappear after changing display's resolution
  • selection to jump after transforming it in zoomed-out view
  • content changes after transforming selection outside canvas
  • an incorrect result after using Transform, Rotate, and then Scale tools

Problems Fixed...

  • A crash that sometimes occurred when saving relatively large images
  • Clone Stamp changing its position after mouse release
  • Print Help button not working
  • Console message with use of some transform tools that said "***-[NSCFDictionarysetObject:forKey:]:attempt to insert nil value (key:delegate)"
  • Beep notice when transforming empty selection
  • Transform constrain proportions not working correctly
  • Stability problems caused by transform tools after trying to Quit application
  • Help Button in PDF open panel not working correctly

Improvements Made To...

  • TIFF compatibility
  • PSD compatibility
  • PXM
  • User interface (minor)
  • Performance (minor)
  • Transform (minor)
  • Automator actions
  • Type tool icon (to be more visible)
  • Motion Blur performance
  • Transform tools snapping
  • Layers (When adding a layer mask to layer, if there is a selection active, that selection will now be used as a mask.)
  • Transformed selection (double-click will now accept any changes).
  • Undo/Redo now works with Add/Remove/Hide Guide.
  • Saving an image to a folder that is read-only (Alert message will be shown when saving an image)
  • Rope Tool (when used with Quartz-Composer-based filters)
  • Tab shortcut now works properly
  • selection not to rotate 90° or 180°

System requirements: Pixelmator requires Mac OS X version 10.4.9 or later, but 10.5 is recommended. Core Image supported graphics card (recommended), some features require iLife.

More information, along with the 30-day Pixelmator trial, is available as a free download at the Pixelmator Web site.

Pixelmator 1.2 is available to order for $59. Pixelmator 1.2 is a free update to current Pixelmator customers.

Editor's note: See our reviews, Pixelmator 1.1.3: A Serious Challenger to Photoshop Elements? and Pixelmator 1.2 Closing the Gap with Photoshop Elements 6, to learn more about Pixelmator.

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