By this time next week (and most likely well into the following week) I’ll be extolling the virtues of Apple’s next major upgrade to their Mac OS X operating system, version 10.5, codenamed “Leopard”. A lot of Leopard will be let out of the bag at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) when it kicks off on Monday, August 7th, with a keynote address by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Between now and then tech journalists, bloggers, and other soothsayers will postulate and pontificate on what Mr. Jobs will proclaim from the pulpit. Some of them will get some of it right. Others will not fare so well. In any case, the tech media will be dominated by Apple WWDC news for much of next week.
So, what’s the big deal about a developer’s conference, anyway? To the media, Apple developer’s conferences are a big deal because Apple usually slips in a product announcement or two. Next week the money is on an Intel-based replacement for Apple’s professional desktops, known today as “PowerMacs”. The processor expected to be chosen for the new “Mac Pro” (or “Pro Mac”, or “Pro Zac”, or whatever they decide to call it) is Intel’s Xeon 5100, possibly in a two-chip configuration that would offer four cores of computing power. Intel has also introduced a newer, faster, cooler (temperature), and less-power-consuming dual core processor that may see immediate duty in the MacBook Pro. And, there’s rumors of new iPods as well.
However, the real star of the show will be Leopard. Apple has built a lot of momentum recently. If Leopard is a major step forward, building on Tiger’s already impressive feature set, and can come to market with hot new hardware by the holiday buying season (or even debuting at January’s MacWorld Expo), it may well steal the thunder of Microsoft’s long-suffering Vista upgrade. Alongside Leopard, Vista runs the risk of looking like XP Service Pack 3 with a pretty face. Pssst. That’s what it is. We’ll see…
So, what’s the big deal about a developer’s conference anyway? Did we answer that already? I didn’t think so. Anyway, developers are the life’s blood of any operating system. Both Microsoft (Office, Internet Exploder, etc.) and Apple (iLife, Final Cut Pro, etc.) have internal developers, but external, or “third party” developers are also crucial to a system’s vitality. Developers need a “head’s up” on a new system’s features and characteristics, so they can be ready with products that work with all the new bells and whistles.
And not just the big developers the Adobes, the Corels, the Intuits (no, not the Eskimo tribe, silly, the fine folks who make Quicken and QuickBooks). There are thousands of smaller developers who not only fill in the holes of what’s needed, but also “push the envelope” and bring exciting new ideas to the table.
A great example of a great third-party developer is Rogue Amoeba, makers of Audio Hijack Pro. Audio Hijack Pro, as the name implies, can “hijack”, or record, any sound that your Mac produces or plays. For example, I recently found a live radio mini-concert from one of my favorite bands on a radio station’s website. It was only available in streaming RealAudio (blecchh) format, which can only be listened to in real time and not downloaded onto my Mac for later listening without an internet connection. Not so fast. I simply fired up Audio Hijack Pro, told it to record whatever came out of RealPlayer, opened the concert file, and presto-chango, I had my very own high-resolution AAC copy of the concert. Check out their website at: rogueamoeba.com for more information.
© 2006 Peter F. Zimowski