Every now and then I hear about good stuff that’s possibly going to happen, but you never know with rumors. In any event, the latest whispers say Apple is working on digital cameras for capturing images to manipulate on the Mac. The first ones will be 8-bit gray scale and hold 40 shots, but later models will go up to 24-bit, and presumably, color. The cameras will be Mac and PC compatible, not surprisingly, and I hope Apple sells them at a reasonable price. True digital cameras would be ideal, but even an Apple-produced still video camera (which is analog and requires a digitizing board to acquire the images for use on the Mac) would be interesting.
System 7.2 — I just upgraded to System 7.1 now that the 32-bit Enabler is out (no reason to bother before), but I hear that 7.2 will be the cool version that Apple should have started to charge for. Perhaps the snazziest feature planned for 7.2 is spring-loaded folders, which make hierarchies easier to traverse. If you have a file on your desktop that you want to move to a folder three levels down, just move it over the first folder, wait for the folder to spring open, move it over the second folder, wait for that to spring open, and then drop it in the final folder. When you let up, all those folders automatically close. It sounds great, but it also sounds you’ll want a click-lock feature or a foot switch to use it. Neat ideas, and I’m still agitating for a replacement for the Standard File Dialog box.
MacInTalk — A while back I mentioned a nifty new MacInTalk, and although it appears Apple has finished it, they are waiting to release it with the Cyclones or Mac IIIs that will ship this summer. These new Macs may have AT&T 3210 DSP (digital signal processor) chips that simplify voice synthesis and voice recognition. DSP chips provide interesting features including 16-bit digital sound, voice mail capability, video-in and video-out capabilities, and even standard modem functions. Of course, you’ll need software to do this, but DSP chips make it possible.
Cyclone Macs — The Centris is neat, but I’m waiting for something truly different, like a Cyclone, before I upgrade from my now-venerable SE/30. I’ve heard of plans for two models of the Mac III, much in the same mode as the two Centris machines. One will have a 25 MHz 68040, one NuBus 90 slot, and two 72-pin SIMM slots, whereas the other will have a 40 MHz 68040, three NuBus 90 slots, and four 72-pin SIMM slots. They will share DMA (Direct Memory Access) to all the I/O ports, and unlike the IIfx, they will support DMA in the system software so it will actually improve performance. Of course, the Cyclones will precede the first PowerPCs by six to nine months, but since early rumors have the Macintosh emulation on the PowerPCs running at greater than Quadra speed (impressive for emulation!), I may wait a little longer. The PowerPCs apparently pack so much horsepower that adding the DSP chip would slow down voice recognition and synthesis software.