Wi-Fi Plays Key Role in Apple’s Newest Products

Big news out of MacWorld today. In his keynote address, Steve Jobs announced several new Apple products that take advantage of Wi-Fi technology.

First among them, Time Capsule, a “backup appliance” that is essentially an 802.11n draft AP with a hard drive, which enables users to backup their notebooks via Wi-Fi. Two versions will be available, 500GB ($299) and 1TB ($499) (yes, that’s “TB”). Both will begin shipping next month.

200 days and four million iPhones later and Apple is ready to issue an update, available starting today via a software download through iTunes. Wi-Fi features are not enhanced, but Web-related features are, with the greatest emphasis on mapping and location through triangulation, thanks to a partnership between Google, Apple, and Skyhook Wireless.

iPod touch has not been overlooked. It will get several new applications, including Mail, Maps, Stocks, Notes, and Weather. It will use Wi-Fi for the Maps triangulation feature. New iPod touches will have the features built-in; existing users will have to fork over twenty bucks for the upgrade.

As expected, Apple also announced it would be offering movie rentals through its iTunes store. They can be downloaded (wirelessly, if you like) and stored for 30 days, but must be watched only once and within 24 hours of starting the download. Older titles will cost $2.99; new releases will cost $3.99 (and won’t be available until 30 days after the DVDs are released).

Apple TV also got an upgrade–and a price drop. The $229 802.11n-enabled TV appliance will no longer require a computer to connect to your TV. You can use it to rent movies via iTunes, or to access Flickr or Picasa images. The software upgrade is free to current users and should be available in two weeks.

Also announced today, the arrival of the MacBook Air, “the world’s thinnest notebook.” It will ship with 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1 built-in and runs on an Intel Core 2 Duo at 1.6GHz standard (up to 1.8GHz optional upgrade). It features a 13.3-inch display, with a backlit LED and a built-in iSight camera (just like other MacBooks). In a nod to the environmentally-conscious Apple consumer, Jobs announced that packaging on this model was reduced, PVCs were eliminated, and mercury and arsenic were removed from the display components.

The MacBook Air starts at a very competitive $1799 (with 2GB of memory and an 80GB hard drive) and begins shipping in two weeks. Pre-orders are available via the Apple Web site.

Stay tuned for Wi-FiPlanet reviews of all these new products and upgrades.

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-FiPlanet.

Article courtesy Wi-Fi Planet

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