Boom! Apple announced a ton of things on Tuesday. Here's what they are and what we think of them.
OS X 10.9 "Mavericks"
Mavericks, the newest version of the Mac operating system, was released, and...it's free, and all future versions of OS X will be too. Didn't see that coming. Any machine that is capable of running OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion" can also run Mavericks. You can download it from the Mac App Store.
This is an exciting release, in my opinion, because it gets more out of the hardware you already own: better performance and longer battery life, thanks to technology like RAM compression and keeping applications from doing things when you don't need them to. You also get some of the stuff you already use on iOS, like iBooks and Maps, and a slew of refinements to the overall system.
However, we DON'T recommend installing it just yet, especially if we have set up Apple Mail to work with your Gmail or Google Apps account, or you have an Other World Computing solid state drive upgrade, or you synchronize calendar and contacts with any devices using a USB cable. We also generally recommend that we wait a couple of weeks for the dust to settle to see if any serious problems emerge with this major new update.
iPad, old and new
Two new iPads were released, and two old ones were kept around. The new full-size fifth generation iPad is called the...iPad Air. That's because it is lighter (1.0 lbs versus 1.4) and slimmer than before, but with longer battery and more computing power. Not bad. As before, it starts at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi only model and goes up to $929 for the 128 GB cellular model. Your color choices are, as before, white and charcoal. Shipping November 1.
Also new is the iPad mini with Retina display, starting at $399, which is pretty much the same thing, but smaller. Available at end of November. Just to make things confusing, the non-Retina iPad mini remains available for $299, and the non-Retina iPad 2 -- which was released two a half years ago -- remains available for $399. I can't think of any good reason to buy one.
I think Apple now has a confusing product line -- not only are there four main types of iPads in various configurations, but "iPad Air" describes because the physically larger product, unlike on the Mac side, where "MacBook Air" describes the physically smaller product.
The MacBook Pro with Retina display models got a refresh with similar goodies that the MacBook Air got a few months ago -- better battery life, faster Wi-Fi, faster SSD, Thunderbolt 2, and, happily, it's cheaper, starting at $1299 for the 13" model and $1999 for the 15" model. These are available now.
If you still want to watch your DVD collection and attach your FireWire devices, you can still buy the old-school non-Retina MacBook Pro for $1199 -- wouldn't expect that one to stick around too much longer.
In December, Apple will come out with a black, scary, powerful cylinder aimed at professionals. It's the new Mac Pro. Unlike the old Mac Pro, which was huge, slotted, and heavily fanned, the new Mac Pro is compact, has dual graphics cards, and no expansion slots (it uses Thunderbolt 2 instead). It starts at $2999. I want one. I don't need one, but I want one. It's available in December.
iLife and iWork
iLife (iPhoto, iMovie, and Garageband) and iWork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) have all new versions for both Mac and iOS, and are included for free (finally) when you buy a new Mac or iOS device. (Otherwise they're $5 per app for the iOS versions and $20 per app for the Mac versions). They are all now iCloud-tastic, so you can just start editing your movie on your Mac and pick it up on your iPad.