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iLife ’04 Features New GarageBand Music-Creation Program

During today’s keynote address at this week’s Macworld Expo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced a new version of the company’s iLife package. Jobs said iLife ’04 is "like Microsoft Office for the rest of your life." The package updates the four existing iApps, and adds a fifth application, called GarageBand: essentially, software designed to turn your Mac into a mini recording studio.

GarageBand enables even the casual musician to play over 50 software-based instruments (like pianos, drum kits, basses, organs, and UFOs from outer space) using any USB or MIDI keyboard or controller, digitally mix up to 64 tracks, and integrate live audio, whether recorded from a microphone or an electric guitar plugged right in to the Macintosh. The software offers over a thousand music loops (professionally-produced drum beats and backing tracks), 200 pro-quality audio effects (from traditional echoes and phasing to wacky filters), plus a collection of vintage and modern guitar amplifier emulations sure to intrigue the budding Hendrix in your household. When you’ve recorded and tweaked your next chart-topping hit to your satisfaction, GarageBand offers one-click export to iTunes; from there, you can share your work with other iTunes users and other iLife applications, or burn your magnum opus to CD. In addition to GarageBand’s default sounds and tones, Apple will offer the $99 GarageBand JamPack with 2,000 additional loops and over 100 additional software instruments. Apple will also sell an M-Audio 49-key USB keyboard (like a piano keyboard, not a typewriter keyboard!) for playing software instruments.

The latest iPhoto now supports up to 25,000 photos in the browser with no display delays, time-based organization features and "smart" albums (similar to smart playlists in iTunes), and network photo sharing via Rendezvous. The previously U.S.-only photo book and print ordering feature of iPhoto will expand to Japan later this month, and Europe in March. iMovie 4 lets the user non-destructively trim video clips directly in the timeline view, offers new and enhanced title options such as clipped image or video showing through a title, and an angled scroll that drew cheers from the Star Wars fans in the Macworld keynote audience. The new iMovie can also import video directly from Apple’s iSight camera, easily share movies to a .Mac account’s Web space, and scrub audio by option-dragging the playback head.

iDVD 4’s most popular feature may be that it will now run on Macs without built-in SuperDrive DVD burners, so owners of older Macs will be able to work on a DVD project and archive it to be burned later on another Mac. The consumer DVD mastering software also has twenty new Hollywood-quality themes, enhanced menu capabilities and a DVD navigation map, and pro encoding that now fits two hours of high-quality video on a single standard DVD. iLife also includes the recently released iTunes 4.2.

iLife ’04 will be available 16-Jan-04 with a retail price of $49 ($25 academic); it will also ship with all new Macintosh systems.

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