By John Gruber
Journey across Bhutan with Gray Langur. October 16-29, limited availability.
On the software side, Apple has — dare I say finally — become a company that can walk and chew gum at the same time. Remember back in 2007 when Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) was delayed six months because, Apple flat-out admitted, they had to pull engineering talent from Mac OS X to work on iOS 1 for the original iPhone? They don’t seem to have that problem any more.
Today, Apple has two OSes that are both in active concurrent development. Year-over-year, it’s hard to say which OS has seen the most improvement.
The new “next-generation” MacBook Pro with Retina Display is, in short, “Back to the Mac” for hardware. This is an iOS-inspired appliance — battery, RAM, solid state storage — all of it is sealed in a magnificent enclosure. Consider too that it no longer even says “MacBook Pro” on the front of the display. It’s just like an iOS device — a brilliant display surrounded by black glass.
I have a review unit from Apple, and after just 15 minutes or so trying it out, it’s damn impressive. Much like with the iPhone and iPad, it’s not so much that the retina display looks good as that, after you’ve used it for even just a few minutes, non-retina display MacBooks look bad. It’s not just pixel size, either — color, brightness, viewing angles — everything about it is amazing. Best display I’ve ever seen, period.
The catch is that it’s expensive. That’s why it debuted alongside a brand-new update to the 15-inch non-retina MacBook Pro, rather than replacing it. If you can afford it (and don’t need the optical drive or spinning hard disk), you want the new one. And surely we’re going to see displays of this caliber roll out across the MacBook line, one by one, as soon as it becomes economically feasible. (And, I presume, the iMac and Cinema Displays, too. It’s just a matter of time.)
Best to compare it to the original MacBook Air from 2008. The first Air was expensive and not for everyone, but it showed the future of Apple’s (and, really, the industry’s) portables. That’s what the new 15-inch MacBook Pro is: the future of portable Macs.
Starting with the opening gag with Siri doing stand-up comedy and continuing through to Apple’s new maps and Siri’s new features, there was an unmistakeable “Fuck you, Google” undertone to the whole keynote. Apple is forcing Google out of iOS. Even the Facebook integration feels like a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” alliance.
I’ve said it before and will say it again: Google made a mistake by deciding to oppose rather than ally with Apple on mobile.