Apple begins to code key MacOS X apps
AirPort enhancements don't quite ring true, though
Mac Rumour Roundup Apple is working on a fully native MacOS X version of AppleWorks. According to AppleInsider, the company has shipped the latest developer release to staffers.
Essentially, the MacOS X release is simply a re-compliled version of the current shipping release, AppleWorks 6.0, though some extensive work is expected to take place to give the app a true Aqua look and feel.
Though AppleInsider doesn't say so, we assume the developer release is written to MacOS X's OpenStep-derived Cocoa API, which Apple hopes all developers will ultimately write too, once they no longer have to support MacOS 9 through the 9/X compatibility API, Carbon. After all, AppleWorks 6 is already Carbonised.
AppleWorks isn't the only application development Apple is undertaking. MacOS Rumors lists a stack of titles it's heard the company is working on.
Interestingly, iMusic makes a re-appearance, this time not as the original name for iTunes, but as a home audio recording studio. iTunes was derived from Casady & Greene's SoundJam, but while the latter had a recording facility, iTunes doesn't. It's not hard to see Apple - now Steve Jobs reckons the company's future lies in solutions not kit per se - considering merging SoundJam's recording abilities with a soundtrack mixing system modelled on iMovie's interface.
After all, if you can edit video on a Mac, why not audio too? Then burn the whole lot to CD via iTunes or DVD using iDVD. Makes sense to us.
MacOS Rumors also notes iTalk, an all-in-one Net comms tool that integrates AOL Instant Messenger, IRC, ICQ, videoconferencing and VoIP. Again, a smart move given that it may take the developers of pro and shareware communications clients some time to Carbonise their utilities and get them running smoothly under MacOS X.
Also at MacOS Rumors we hear Apple sources claiming the company is developing the next generation of AirPort, which will reportedly take the wireless networking technology to speeds of 54Mbps, nearly five times the current 11Mbps throughput.
Standards are never static, so we'd expect AirPort to be upgraded this way sooner or later, and for the silicon that powers it to shrink, just as RAM and motherboard chipsets have been reduced over time.
Essentially - if the sources are to be believed - Apple is switching from IEEE 802.11b (11Mbps at 2.4GHz) to IEEE 802.11a (6-54Mbps at 5.7GHz), which has been around for some time, but isn't expected to appear in product until later this year. The shift in frequency is handy too, since it should ensure there's no clash between AirPort and emerging wireless data standards like Bluetooth and HomeRF.
MacOS Rumors reckons that all this could happen sooner rather than later, possibly in time for MacWorld Tokyo next week, though it bases that claim on the anticipation of new iMacs rather than hard information.
Certainly, we're not aware of a company producing 802.11a silicon who is even sampling chips, let alone ramping up for volume production. And 802.11a remains an unproven technology. More to the point, 802.11a and 802.11b are not yet interoperable. And Apple will need to ensure backward compatibility before rolling out a faster version of AirPort. ®