At last week's Macworld Expo keynote address, Steve Jobs unveiled a new version of iLife, its suite of media creativity tools, and replaced the venerable AppleWorks with iWork '05, a new productivity suite that includes Pages, a new word processor/page layout application, and Keynote 2, the latest version of Apple's presentation software. He also briefly introduced Final Cut Express HD, the company's single nod during the show toward more advanced Mac users.
All-New iWork Sports Pages and Keynote -- iWork marks the debut of Pages, a new word-processing application that includes 40 document themes, extended templates with multiple types of page designs in many of them. Pages allows for freeform arrangements of text, graphics, photos, tables, and charts, so it should readily serve as a basic desktop publishing tool for those who don't need the power of QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign. It's also a fairly basic word processor; we don't expect Pages will compete with the likes of Microsoft Word for power wordsmiths, or with BBEdit on the other end of the spectrum for coders. Pages does import AppleWorks documents, and imports and exports Word documents, in addition to supporting the all-important PDF.
Keynote 2 is a new version of the presentation software Apple originally developed for Steve Jobs to use during his keynotes, with 10 new themes, animated text, a useful presenter display that puts notes and the next slide on a second monitor, and even a kiosk slideshow mode. Keynote imports and exports PowerPoint presentations, and adds the capability to export presentations as Macromedia Flash, in addition to the existing PDF and QuickTime export options.
iWork replaces AppleWorks in Apple's software arsenal, but leaves out the anemic spreadsheet and database features of the former office suite. Apple no doubt figures these are power user features, and those users will head to Microsoft Office. It's also possible we'll see programs with these features in future releases of iWork. Note that if "iWork" sounds familiar, you may be thinking about IGG Software's time management software, recently renamed iBiz.
Apple says iWork features an integrated iLife media browser, allowing users to import images from iPhoto, sound from iTunes, and video from iMovie directly into documents, much as recent versions of the iLife applications allow seamless importing from the other tools. The software, which requires Mac OS X 10.3.6 or later running on a Mac with a minimum 500 MHz G3, G4, or G5 processor, will cost $80 when it's available on 22-Jan-05 in the US and 29-Jan-05 worldwide. The software comes on a DVD, requiring a DVD reader like a Combo Drive or SuperDrive for installation.
Apple Unveils iLife '05 -- Apple also took the wraps off a major update to its iLife suite of digital media applications: iLife '05 includes iPhoto 5, iMovie HD, iDVD 5, GarageBand 2, and iTunes 4.7 (iTunes remains free from Apple, even though it's included in the iLife suite). The new suite will be available 22-Jan-05 for $80 and will require a DVD drive and Mac OS X 10.3.4 or later for installation. It will also begin shipping on all new Macs shortly. People who purchased iLife '04 or a new Mac after 11-Jan-05 can upgrade to iLife '05 for $20 through Apple's iLife Up-To-Date program through 25-March-05. Also, a $100 iLife '05 Family Pack is available for installing the suite on up to five computers.
Apple's digital image cataloging application iPhoto 5 gains new advanced editing tools that enable users to control color saturation, white balance, contrast, exposure, and more, along with impressive cropping and rotation tools for slightly adjusting an image's orientation (just to make sure those walls and doorways are upright and horizons are level). iPhoto 5 also sports hierarchical folders for storing multiple picture albums (a feature we've been craving since iPhoto's debut - now if only iTunes offered hierarchical playlists!), an iTunes-like search field, and a calendar view for finding photos by day, week, month, or year.
The application also now supports the RAW image format (used by some higher-end digital cameras), and can catalog video clips from digital still cameras. For folks who can't get enough of their pictures, iPhoto 5's high-quality slideshow capabilities are heavily customizable, sport 12 transitions, and enable users to sync photos with music, including adjusting the duration, effects, and transitions for individual slides. Users can also customize and adjust slideshows without changing the underlying album. And, if printed pictures are your thing, Apple is offering three new formats of photo books (along with new themes), and has cut the price of 4" by 6" prints to 19 cents each, 10 cents less for single quantities than Shutterfly and Kodak's Ofoto service.
iMovie HD can edit and import high-definition video (HDV) format offered by higher-end camcorders, offers new editing tools which can directly re-arrange clips in iMovie's timeline, and adds a new Magic iMovie feature that automatically creates a movie directly from a FireWire video camera: just plug in the camera and Magic iMovie imports the video, places the clips in the Timeline with scene breaks, inserts transitions, creates titles and chapter markers, selects a soundtrack, and sends the project off to iDVD... all while you're off getting a sandwich. iMovie HD also supports MPEG-4 video, the 16:9 ratio of SD DV, and can import video directly from Apple's iSight camera. The program also comes with new sound effects and transitions, and integrates directly with iPhoto to import still images into your movies.
Like Magic iMovie, iDVD 5 offers a new feature called OneStep DVD, which can move your unedited movie directly from a camcorder to DVD. New drop zones enable DVD authors to add still images or video as DVD menu backgrounds or as parts of buttons or motion menus: iDVD 5 ships with 15 new themes which incorporate dynamic drop zones. iDVD also supports the same new video formats as iMovie 5 (MPEG-4, 16:9 widescreen, Apple's iSight, and HDV, though HDV is sampled down to 16:9 when burned to a DVD disc, so you won't see full HD resolution when playing the DVD on an HD television), and integrates even more directly with other iLife applications than before, making it simple to include images from iPhoto or music from iTunes or GarageBand. iDVD 5 can also now burn to DVD+R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW discs, as well as DVD-R; some newer Macs can also support burning to DVD+/-RW discs. More important, even though iDVD 5 still does not support burning discs directly using third party external drives, it does appear to add the capability to save projects to disk images - meaning that you can then burn the image using the Finder or Toast on an external drive.
GarageBand 2 gets a major update in iLife '05, offering support for recording up to eight simultaneous tracks of audio (although to do so, you'll need a third-party audio interface), a real-time music notation display for MIDI and GarageBand's software instruments, and basic pitch correction features for adjusting out-of-tune single-note tracks like vocals. GarageBand 2 also features an integrated tuner, and the capability to save your favorite grooves and riffs as Apple Loops you can re-use in other GarageBand projects or in other Apple products such as Soundtrack.
Finally, Apple's ubiquitous music jukebox application iTunes gets a minor tweak to support AutoFill, a new method of loading tunes onto Apple's iPod Shuffle. Apple also announced enhancements to the Essentials area of the iTunes Music Store. An 8.6 MB update to iTunes 4.7.1 is available via Software Update and claims to offer unspecified performance improvements as well as support for the iPod shuffle.
Final Cut Express HD -- Earlier in 2004, Apple continued its push into professional video editing by releasing Final Cut Pro HD. At Macworld Expo, Apple introduced Final Cut Express HD, bringing high-definition video support to its mid-level editing program. Slated for availability in February 2005, the $300 program will also include LiveType for creating animated titles, and Soundtrack (formerly a separate $300 program) for working with music and audio. Final Cut Express HD also boasts iMovie project import and project integration with Motion, Apple's motion-graphics software. Existing Final Cut Express owners can upgrade for $100.