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Apple refresh Macs and operating systems

Redesigned Mac Pro, New Macbook Air, OS X Mavericks and iOS 7

Mac ProMac ProUnless you've spent the last 24 hours in solitary, you've probably heard that Apple have made some pretty big announcements at their annual Worldwide Developers Conference. 

The biggest of these for the pro audio community is the announcement of a completely redesigned Mac Pro. The new model, slated for an Autumn release trades a large, internally expandable enclosure for a much smaller cylindrical design, only ten inches tall. 

Any expansion of the new Mac Pro, which is conspicuously assembled in the USA, must be done externally, via the four USB 3 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports or the six Thunderbolt 2 ports. The Thunderbolt 2 standard, incidentally, is twice the speed of the previous Thunderbolt and allows data transfer rates up to 20Gbps and connection of up to six devices per port.

Speed is king with the new Mac Pro and the design incorporates Intel Xeon E5 CPUs with up to 12 cores, 1866MHz DDR3 RAM, and PCIe-based flash storage, which is over twice as fast as regular flash storage. On top of this, the Mac Pro will be the first computer to ship with dual AMD FirePro graphics cards, which can output 4K video.

OS X MavericksOS X MavericksAlthough it's branded as the "future of the pro desktop" by Apple, the Mac Pro's lack of internal expansion and optical media drive, combined with its unusual shape, may frustrate Pro Tools and UAD users, recordists running a mobile rig or composers using large sample libraries that are impractical to download. However, the speed of Thunderbolt 2 makes an external PCIe chassis more than possible, and optional external optical drives have been available from Apple for some time. It will probably only be a matter of time before a third party comes up with a way of rack mounting the new hardware as well.

As well as the Mac Pro redesign, the Macbook Air range has also been updated to feature faster processors and improved battery life – now at a claimed 12 hours for the 13-inch model. Although in a real-life recording scenario this would likely be significantly shorter, it might well give you enough juice to get through your recording session if you forget to bring the charger.

In a break from the big cat naming-scheme of the last ten years, Apple's new Mac OS Mavericks was also announced at WWDC, with various enhancements including tabbed finder windows, tagging of files for more powerful search, various improvements for multiple display users and iBooks for Mac which allows fast note taking when reading - a godsend for students.

iOS 7iOS 7Then we come to iOS 7, Apple's mobile platform which has also been completely resigned, this time by Apple's head of design, Jony Ive. Apart from a flat interface which is rather reminiscent of Android, one key improvement is the ability to quickly toggle wifi, bluetooth, torch, and various other commonly used features in Control Center, which is accessed with a single swipe. There have also been various other improvements, including automatic app updates, more features for Siri, redesigned fonts for clearer text and iTunes Radio.

iTunes Radio is a new streaming music service which gives the user access to various stations, depending on their listening preferences, and purchase history in iTunes. It is also intended to be a music discovery platform, allowing music that user does not own to be streamed, and then purchased via iTunes. 

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