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If you visit Apple’s 2013 Mac Pro page, you’ll see a sneak peek of the Mac Pro being released later this year.

One feature of the page are videos showing internal elements of the computer. In order to have a close look at how it’s put together, here are the videos as a single movie:

If you want to get the source video, visit its Vimeo page and click the Download button. This is is helpful if you’d like to step through the video frame by frame.

Room for improvement?

As regards how upgradeable the computer will be, it might be almost as easy as the old Mac Pro to modify. Apple have already stated that memory and flash storage will be user-configurable, however based on stepping through the Apple video, it seems as if the central chassis is put together with hex screws, and the three main boards are attached with a few screws:

mac-pro-2013-graphics-cards

The base board is then attached to the three card sockets:

Mac-Pro-base

Perhaps Apple will offer a configuration of the Mac Pro with only one GPU card, and publish the specs for third parties to supply CPUs.

Configuring Mac Pros with alternate GPU cards will have to be done by confident engineers, but probably won’t require a visit to an Apple Store.

According to a ‘friend of a friend’ report from the Worldwide Developer’s conference posted to the CGSociety forum:

OK – I have a friend the WWDC and he has asked a lot of questions to the right guy. The Graphics cards in this new macpro are swappable. But they are bespoke and a new form factor it seems. Ram / GPU and the Main drive is all updatable – it does seem that there is the possibility of installing 2 or more of these PCIe drives…

Future versions of the Mac Pro may have more space for GPU cards. With a slightly larger enclosure, there could be four instead of two:

3-cards,-5-cards

Professionals welcome

With the announcement of this computer, there’s no doubt that Apple is still interested in professional markets. Despite the relatively limited opportunities for making billions in profits, they must see value in serving those who want the fastest personal computers in their offices.

The most distinctive feature of the sneak peek is the fact that Apple felt under enough pressure to pre-annouce the computer at all. The Apple of 10 years would have created an Autumn 2013 event in Los Angeles featuring professionals from the film, TV and music industries extolling the virtues of Apple’s professional hardware and software solutions.

What else can we get them to do?

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Apple’s new streaming service is called iTunes Radio. Not iMusic. What elements could be included that would justify such a name?

The current music streaming services offer very large music libraries to those that pay a subscription fee, or to accept listening to adverts. Although streaming services have features named ‘radio’, they don’t sound much like broadcast radio.

I think there is room for a streaming service that adds elements of radio: the shared experience, regular elements, a reliable schedule.

FutureRadio = Purchased music + Streamed music + Curated music + Shared experiences

Imagine a service that combines purchased music, music that fits well with purchased music and shared audio experiences.

Curated music in this case starts with algorithmically chosen music that works well with the music you want to listen to. iTunes has a ‘Genius’ command that creates playlists of tracks from your library that fit the genre or mood of a chosen track. Spotify has a ‘Radio’ feature that creates playlists based on an artist, genre or time period.

Curation doesn’t only have to come from software algorithms: it could come from the playlist of a favourite radio station or radio show. Radio station playlists change periodically, some every week, some every few months. Radio show playlists could be based on the music played over the previous years, year, month or week. The playlist could be the exact tracks played on a recent show.

There is also a place for non-music content on a radio service.

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MacPro fans are waiting for Apple to announce an update to their favourite computer. Many hope that Monday’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote speech will end their long wait.

This time last year an email purported to be from Tim Cook was posted to the MacRumors forums:

Thanks for your email. Our Pro customers like you are really important to us. Although we didn’t have a chance to talk about a new Mac Pro at today’s event, don’t worry as we’re working on something really great for later next year.

Those few words have been pored over since then. Some pointed out that Tim’s email didn’t say that there would be a new MacPro ‘later next’ year, just that Pro customers would get ‘something really great.’

More recently Drew Baird posted the following to the reduser.net forums:

For what it’s worth – a couple of months ago I received a call from Douglas Brooks, Apples project manager for the new Mac Pro to address my concerns about the new machine. Obviously he didn’t tell me anything about the new MP, but asked me what I wanted to see. I told him expandability for extra graphics cards support, and memory expansion were at the top of my list amongst other things. His reply was simple:

“You are going to be really glad that you waited [to buy a new tower]. We are doing something really different here and I think you’re going to be very excited when you see what we’ve been up to. I can’t wait to show this off”.

That conversation gave me enough confidence to wait for the new machine. I’m looking forward to the announcement. Hopefully the wait will be worth it.

If this is true, the MacPro replacement is unlikely to look like the current model in any way.

More recent MacPro rumours suggest that the new hardware may have more GPU power, but will not have FireWire, optical drives or internal expansion. Some suggest that the new pro computer will be the hardware that Apple is manufacturing in the U.S. as high-end customers are less likely to complain about the extra costs of home manufacturing.

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Four years ago, Apple applied for a patent that is relevant to animating parameters of clips and other content in a timeline. They were awarded patent 8,458,593 today.

I’m not reproducing this to start a debate on whether this sort of thing should be patentable. This patent shows how future Apple applications might show timelines of animatable values, and how more than one value can be changed at a time as well as controlling the shape of the graph joining two keyframes.

09

You can see from this drawing of an imaginary application interface, this patent applies to a media editing application that users can use to set keyframe values for clip parameters such as scale and position with editable graphs.

The example application shown in the patent looks like a version of Final Cut Pro that uses some elements from Motion, but not so many that editors are turned off. The editing temperament is somewhat different from that of motion graphic designers.

However bear in mind that this patent represents Apple’s thinking back in May 2009, in the intervening years, they may have moved on from these ideas.

The rest of this post is made up of most of the text and images from the new Apple patent

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In a recent market survey, Canalys claimed that Apple was number 1 when it comes to worldwide shipments of personal computers in the fourth quarter of 2012 with a share of of 20%. This figure includes shipments of iPads – a device many people don’t count as a personal computer.

Let’s turn the ‘is the iPad a personal computer’ question around and ask ‘If tablets are our personal computers, what are Macs for?’ If there’s a useful new definition of Macs and OS X, Apple will continue to improve both in the coming years.

At the moment people use Macs to organise and to create. Organisation in this case covers the personal, family and work aspects of our lives. iPads, iOS and iCloud are designed to support these sort of tasks.

It seems that the organisational aspects of our lives will soon be better supported using iOS and Android devices (and perhaps the mobile aspects of Windows 8). This leaves Macs and OS X as tools to support creative endeavours only: music composition, graphic design, illustration, photo manipulation, software development and media production and post production. A definition similar to the markets that supported Apple in the 90s.

As I mentioned in my post on how has Apple defined itself over the last 18 years, they might very well change the part of their definition that describes the Mac. Currently they say:

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software.

Perhaps they’ll break up that sentence by function:

Apple helps people organise using iLife, iWork and iCloud. Apple makes Macs, OS X and professional software: the best content creation tools in the world.

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On the latest episode of the Critical Path podcast Horace Dediu and Moisés Chiullan talked about the future of TV. Horace said that he thinks that the future of TV is in applying software engineering tools to story and interactivity development. Apple have some tools that could achieve some of this.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple have decided to change their PR policy to counteract recent bad press: they’re ‘subtly increasing’ their activity.

There does seem to be a correlation between Apple’s success and the number of press releases issued per month:

PR-per-month-graph-Apple

When Steve Jobs was appointed as iCEO in September 1997, there seems to have been a change in policy. The only month since March 1998 that had over 20 releases was June 2008, which was filled with iPhone partnership announcements.

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