Back to the Mac Event: The Good The Bad, and the Meh - Macenstein

Back to the Mac Event: The Good The Bad, and the Meh

As with all big Apple events, I once again find people turning to me for my opinion on the announcements from Apple’s Back to the Mac Event. Honestly I can’t blame them, as my opinion is often the only correct one when it comes to such things. I seem to have the uncanny ability to cut through the hype with laser beam-like precision, and somehow categorize the day’s events into one of three categories: Good, Bad, and Meh. Here’s how the Back to the Mac Event broke down.

ilife 11

The Good

iMovie 11 – Seems like an actual update for once. I never used iMovie, as I am familiar with Final Cut and didn’t feel like learning the “intuitive” iMovie workspace (those quotation marks should be seen as sarcasm marks), but it now seems like it can do 90% of what I personally do with Final Cut, so it might be worth taking a look. The auto trailers feature looks extremely gimmicky, but fun, and that’s more or less what iLife has become across the board, so that’s fine. As far as useful new tools, the new audio tools should help make up for the #1 most overlooked aspect of film making by young directors – getting the audio right.

Garage Band – I’m such a bad musician that even GarageBand can’t help me, but any aspiring musicians, no matter how talentless, should find this update to GarageBand to be a worthwhile one. It’s new Groove Matching feature is basically “Auto tune” for instruments, so while this likely means actual musicianship will suffer, and possibly the ability to play live music in general, at least when your sister forces you to listen to your nephew’s “new song”, it won’t hurt… as much.


FaceTime for the Mac – How can this not be awesome? Suddenly you don’t need the other person you’re talking to to own an iPhone 4, which suddenly makes FaceTime useful. Even awkward video chats with Phil Schiller seem to be bearable. And the best part is it’s available today as a beta. I’m not sure why it needs to be a beta… Apple’s a pretty big company and as far as software goes, this seems like a fairly simple app that should either work or not, but whatever. Seemed to work as expected, and the demo took about 10 seconds, which helps make the point of how simple it really is.

Mac App Store – Finally, Mac developers will get a chance to have some publicity, just like the iPhone/iPad developers. While ultimately this is going to cost me a TON of money, I’m still excited because the current App store has allowed me to discover a TON of cool software and games that I never would have found otherwise. The ability to “sell” free versions of a piece of software alongside the pay versions will really help developers get their software noticed. But to me the coolest thing is going to be the auto-updates, something I LOVE about the iPhone/iPad process. I’m sure a ton of the software I own is not up to date, and the auto update feature not only keeps your software current, it actually reminds you that you own the damn thing, thus causing you to use it more often.

Launchpad – Apple didn’t show off too much of the upcoming OS X 10.7 Lion OS, but this seems pretty cool… actually, make that VERY cool. As an iPad user this seems like a very natural progression of how we should be able to access our apps and such. Unfortunately for my mom, who recently got a MacBook for the first time, she is going to be totally confused.

Mission Control – This is awesome, a combination of expose, spaces, widgets, and just like LaunchPad, this is going to take many Mac users some time to get used to. Still, as a firm believer in keyboard shortcuts, gestures are the keyboard shortcuts of the future, so we might as well get an early start.

macbook air

The New MacBook Air – Steve says it’s “like nothing we’ve ever created before”, but really, it’s exactly like a MacBook Air, just thinner. Still, it is a very cool piece of tech with worthwhile upgrades. It’s got a better screen (and an 11.6 inch version as well which I assume some netbook whiners will say is STILL too big). It’s got the instant on and battery life of the iPad, and completely silent operation. When Apple unveiled the first MacBook Air a couple years back, I thought, “Who the hell would buy this?” Right now, if my MacBook Pro were to suffer an “unfortunate accident” (and accidents happen) I would pick this one up in a heartbeat.

The Meh


iPhoto 11 – Traditionally I have not cared much about any of the iLife apps other than iPhoto, and it has been the driving force behind me upgrading my iLife install. Unfortunately, or fortunately for my wallet, this update is pretty weak – basically less clicks to share pics, full screen forced upon us, and some new themes for slideshows and books. The big news seems to be letter pressed cards, which, while cool, are likely going to be expensive, and rarely used. I know from my experience with Apple’s photo books that there are cheaper, better quality alternatives out there for Photo books, some of which work from directly within iPhoto (or DID, before this update anyway). I’m not sure what I wanted Apple to do to iPhoto, but they didn’t do it. So, while I won’t kick it out of bed, it’s not a huge “must-have” update.

The Bad

macbook air

The MacBook Air propaganda video – Oh My God, PLEASE stop making these!! Seriously, these videos have long ago become pretentious parodies of themselves, and they just give me the douche chills when I watch them. I’m guessing Apple likes to put these on to end each Keynote so the bloggers have time to write up their reviews while Steve is spirited away through a trap door in the floor, but they are just embarrassing now.


So, that’s it. Feel free to tell me how dead-on accurate I am in the comments.

17 Responses to “Back to the Mac Event: The Good The Bad, and the Meh”
  1. Min says:

    Agreed with you, Doc! Love the new MBA. I am planning to get an iMac this year. So all my photo and video processing works will be moving from my two years old Macbook to the iMac. MBA will be the perfect choice for me to have when I am on the road or in the coffee shop. 🙂 And I will get the 11 inch model with the faster CPU and 4GB Ram options.

  2. Mike says:

    I just got a 27″ iMac last week and am now seriously contemplating selling my 13.3″ MacBook (Just before it got switched to Pro) for an 11.6″ Air with the 4GB Ram upgrade.

    Current markets up here would put it at roughly $300 out of my pocket. Not sure about the decision though, the portability of it just seems more appealing since I haven’t touched my MacBook in over a week now.

  3. MacMarine says:

    Under Bad add no update to iWeb or iDVD from what I understand.

    Overall this was Meh

  4. mehmeister says:

    honestly, the move to multitouch on mac is beyond me

    if only Apple actually made a mouse that could be used by the other 50% of mac users (eg. those with carpal tunnel or tendonitis synovitis)

    you know what I mean, an ergoMagic Mouse. FFS even M$ have designed and made one.

    Until then, multitouch in Mac OSX, MEH!

  5. Art Vandelay says:

    Under”Bad”, how about the fact that Jobs is charging a premium price for a MacBook Air with a 2 year old processor in it! Core 2 Duo? Yeah, that would have been hot in 2008. Underpowered and overpriced. Thats the Apple way.

  6. Max says:

    The Mac Air is the future Mac. In five years, all Mac notebooks will look like this, more or less. No CD/DVD drive, no hard drive, battery life about 12 hours, etc.

    Agree completely with the propaganda videos. Victim of their success. They are so good, they invite parody, which then makes them self-parody. Still, it’s good to see the names behind Steve Jobs who actually do the designing and production. Steve announces it, these guys make it.

  7. sine.nomine says:

    I”m not sure I really get Launchpad.

    Back in Windows, and for a while in OS X, I tended to keep quite a few application shortcuts right there on my desktop. If I wanted to get to an app, I’d just reveal the desktop, and there they all were. Launchpad seems like a multi-page version of that…

    Now in OS X, I keep my Applications folder right in my Dock, so all of my apps are 1 click away, and pop up in a reasonably nice-looking, scrollable window. Launchpad seems like a full-screen, paged version of THAT, too.

    I’m not saying it’s a bad idea or anything, I’m just saying I don’t really GET it, given that we’ve always had something extremely similar in the form of a desktop with shortcuts, or now with you Application folder as a Stack in the Dock. All Launchpad seems to do is be a “modal,” multi-paged version of a desktop.

    But notice how Folders in Launchpad and iOS work just about like Stacks were originally supposed to way back in the Leopard betas?

  8. Andy says:

    So where is any real upward movement in the Mac Pro / Final Cut Studio segment in today’s live event?. All we saw today was just a bunch of Horse Shit! Give us some meat and less fluff. It’s time for Apple to get their heads out of all the ‘i’ stuff and really get back to the Mac.

  9. Ian Sterne says:

    @ Art Vandelay

    You get the old processor because with the new one you would have Intel’s crappy built in video.

    This is the best compromise for power vs battery life.

  10. blueMacGroup says:

    Your review of the “Back to the Mac Event” is missing a forth category, “The Insanely Bad Ass.” Two features in Lion that were mentioned, but weren’t featured in the demo were the Auto Save, and Apps resume when launched. There is nothing cooler than being able to launch an app and not have to wait for it to load. Instant on = uber bad ass.

  11. Tice says:

    Hmm… after a day I think the iLife package ist quite nice – I guess I buy it just to make some of my photos into a good book (otherwise I wont use iPhoto – I just have to much photos to have them all on my hard drive (and allso mixed with movies from the same period).

    But the app store leads further into the direction of total Apple control. I really like MacUpdate and MU Promo. Apple will go the same way like they did with iPhone: NO APPS WITHOUT APPLES PERMISSION!

    This is a high price to pay for accommodativeness.

  12. Bad News: If you’re looking for the latest CPU and power, the MacBook Air is not designed for you.

  13. Steveo says:

    @ Bad News Robot

    I don’t think most people that purchase a MBA will do so because they think they’re getting the latest CPU and most powerful laptop on the market. I’m thinking they will purchase a MBA because it is more than fast enough to do the stuff that most people do with a laptop and it will do so in a super thin, super light and super ‘bitchin looking form factor. 🙂

    We’ve reached a point where faster CPU’s don’t really offer the average user anything over-and-above what last years processor offer. It’s more about enhancements in user experience and aesthetics as far as I’m concerned.

  14. Steveo says:

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot…

    The only thing I was disappointed with was no update for iWeb. I mean, iWeb is pretty cool as it but it seems there is so much more that can be done with it.

  15. ArtOfWarfare says:

    I found it… I don’t know. It’s all very different, and I don’t know if that makes it better or not. I like the insanely easy app downloads. I like the instant open and close for applications. I like full screen applications.

    I don’t like the idea of the launch guy. I already have stacks to do that, like someone else mentioned. I like being able to sort things around in folders, I don’t like the idea of having a huge clump of apps fill my screen. I don’t like the way apps no longer indicate who’s running and who’s not (did anyone else notice that during the lion demo there were no dots in the dock to show what was open and what wasn’t?) And as if dashboard wasn’t useless enough, moving it to another screen is only making it more useless. I liked the way I used to be able to be typing a presentation and I’d be able to call down dashboard and consult a conversion widget or dictionary or calculation and be able to see what I was copying into dashboard. Now I’ll have to look back and forth between pages to see that I copied a number into the calculator right. I might as well use the full calculator application. Or a physical calculator.

    I’m disappointed at the lack of a new iLife program. I thought my art application idea was awesome the other day.

  16. Doc got it right. Well done. It’s a first where we completely agree.

  17. David Frantz says:

    This is my first time on Macenstein, hopefully I will come back. However I read that other article about addiction so maybe not.

    I was not overly impressed with the Back to the Mac program. While I agree the original AIR was craptastic and the new ones are a dramatic improvement i still think they come up short. This might not be entirely Apples fault but there are two issues that bother me.

    One is the limited SSD capacity. Especially on the 11″ machine. The second issue is the limited battery life of the 11″ AIR. I probBly can put up with the battery run time but there is no way 128GB will workout for secondary storage. The minimal size I would feel comfortable with is 256GB. Currently I have 200GB in my MBP with iTunes on a separate disk and that is far to little.

    I do very little with iLife and frankly this looks like a half assed update. As far as Lion i’m very mixed there but I do love the idea of app store on the Mac. As long as they don’t lock the machine down outside of app store programs I will be very very happy. Happy for the same reasons too, auto updates. A Mac app store will be a big win for both developer and user.


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