Apple made a lot of announcements today at their “Back to The Mac” event. They introduced a new version of iLife with improvements to iPhoto, Garageband, and iMovie. They also demonstrated a few sneak peak features of the next version of OS X 10.7 Lion and emphasized how they see OS X and iOS merging in the years to come. But, before the event was over they also introduced updates to their Macbook Air notebook line.
The Macbook Air is now thiner then ever and designed more for mobile use. It is light, sports a uni-body design, and has a high resolution screen. The Macbook Air now comes in both 13.3 and 11.6 inch screen sizes and has improved battery life.
Like the original Macbook Air, the new model does not include a DVD drive. Apple clearly believes that DVDs are the way of the past and that there isn’t really a need for them in ultra-mobile devices like the Macbook Air. On the other hand, DVDs are often the media of choice for installing large applications or Operating Systems.
With the original Macbook Air line individuals could connect their notebook to another Mac or PC on the network and “share” the DVD drive on those computers to install new software or re-install OS X 10.6 leopard. Apple has quickly realized that approach wasn’t as user friendly as the other applications and products they us.
Now, the new Macbook Air includes a USB Installation Flash Drive that includes Snow Leopard OS X 10.6 and iLife 11. This USB Flash drive is designed to allow you to re-install the operating system or iLife software if you ever have issues with it. It will probably also be used for system recovery if OS X ever crashes on your Macbook Air.
I imagine that this USB installation Flash Drive for OS X on the Macbook Air will be designed just for that computer, similar to how Apple released DVDs with each model of Mac that was designed specifically for the Mac it was sold with. I don’t think you’ll be able to use this drive to re-install OS X on any Apple computer.
But, if you do need to Install OS X via USB on another Mac then be sure to check out our guide on how to create a bootable USB Snow Leopard Installation Flash Drive. In general, we’re glad to see Apple ditching the DVD and moving to USB. Installing from USB is considerably faster than doing it from a DVD disk, or over a network.
I expect Apple to start selling more USB drives with installation software. It maybe as early as the this summer when Apple releases OS X 10.7. We could see a USB OS X 10.7 Lion Installation Flash Drive sold at Apple retail outlets.