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New Free iLife and iWork Apps Share across Devices and Platforms

In an announcement that will almost certainly cause developers of competing products to experience heart palpitations, Apple has announced that its iLife apps — iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand — and its iWork apps — Pages, Numbers, and Keynote — will be available for free to purchasers of new Apple hardware, whether iOS devices or Macs. In addition, all of these apps have been redesigned, providing cross-platform sharing of documents and media.

Here’s a rundown of what Apple announced as new in the iLife and iWork suites; additional details will no doubt be emerging soon.

iPhoto — Although the Mac version of iPhoto appears largely unchanged (although better performance under OS X 10.9 Mavericks is touted), the iOS version of iPhoto gains many new organizational and presentation options, such as organizing photos by month; filtering them by type, caption, or other criteria; and tagging for sorting pictures to albums.

More advanced editing tools have also been added to the iOS version, including tools like sharpen and saturation brushes, and many new effects (you can now adjust an image’s “aura” or apply “artistic” filters, among many others).

For the first time, users can create photo books and order them printed right from within iPhoto for iOS. And, if you are one of those users who have wondered where the Photos app’s slideshows went, you can find them in the new iPhoto, along with other projects, such as Web journals and the aforementioned photo books.

It doesn’t seem as though there’s any connection between your iPhoto libraries on the Mac and iOS, unfortunately, making it impossible to work on your collection of photos on multiple devices.

iMovie — The Mac version of iMovie sports a new interface, with streamlined browsing of clips and the capability to share a clip on the Web or via email without making a separate movie project. An equally streamlined editor gives better access to effects, as well as easy-to-use speed controls, audio filters, picture-in-picture and side-by-side presentations, and an Adjustments Bar with color controls, stabilization controls, and color matching between clips.

A big new feature, iMovie Theater, shares edited movies and trailers (yes, iMovie still offers the capability for making trailers from any of 29 available templates) among all of your devices, including Apple TV, via iCloud.

Like its Mac sibling, iMovie for iOS also has updated sharing capabilities, making it possible to share clips directly from the app’s Video browser via iMessage, email, the Web, and iMovie Theater. The redesigned editor bears a resemblance to the new Mac version, including an Adjustments Bar, and offers eight themes, advanced audio editing capabilities, support for editing slow-motion video from the iPhone 5s, and special effects like picture-in-picture, cutaways, and split-screen. You can also create trailers within the iOS app, using any of 14 templates.

GarageBand — Last updated in 2010, the new Mac version of GarageBand comes with an entirely new library of sounds and loops and the option to buy additional ones through in-app purchasing. Smart Controls automatically appear tailored for the selected software instrument, amp (including 35 stompboxes), or effect. A virtual session drummer is available, using samples from actual session drummers and recording engineers. One virtual drummer is included, but others can be added via in-app purchase.

You can create and mix as many as 255 audio tracks, and apply Flex Time to fix the timing for those tracks that don’t sync up with the rest. Plus, GarageBand now also offers a direct upload to SoundCloud as well as iCloud synchronization among your other devices that have GarageBand installed.

One major new feature in GarageBand for iOS is the capability to use other sound apps on your iOS device with GarageBand — including effects and specialized instruments — via a new Inter-App Audio feature (sounds like Audiobus to us — see “FunBITS: The World of Audiobus and iPad Music Apps,” 9 August 2013). The editor has been considerably beefed up, providing as many as 32 tracks (the poor Beatles had only 4 tracks available to them in the Abbey Road studios), and a Note Editor that you can use to drag notes into place (or delete an off-key clinker).

Pages — After stagnating as Pages ’09 for over four years, the Mac version has finally been refreshed and the year moniker dropped: it’s now just Pages for Mac. Instead of littering your screen with the floating inspectors of the previous version, Pages now provides a format panel that offers tools based upon what is selected, and optional coaching tips to help you find your way around the new interface. Similarly, change tracking and comments are still available, but now both comments and tracked changes appear integrated into the document and show themselves only when you summon them.

The internal format for Pages documents has been changed to provide complete compatibility with the iOS and iCloud versions of Pages; however, that change does mean that older Pages documents may lose some features and have others modified when opened in the latest version of the app. You can export a document in Pages ’09 format if you need to share with a user who hasn’t upgraded; you can also export, as before, in Word, PDF, text, or EPUB format. The good news is that if you don’t like the new version, you can still find the old iWork apps under /Applications/iWork ’09/ — which seems to be a quiet admission from Apple that the new iWork still needs work.

Speaking of the Web-based iCloud version of Pages, you can now share a link with other users, even non-Mac users, and each edit the same document separately, or at the same time with real-time updating. It’s about time Apple acknowledged that collaboration is key!

Pages for iOS has been brought in line with the iOS 7 interface, and its tools and templates have been adjusted accordingly, including some welcome conveniences, such as placing the toolbar on the virtual keyboard instead of at the top of the page.

Like the Mac version, Pages for iOS also provides coaching tips to help you find your way around the interface. Styles and layouts have been enhanced, as well, but if you want to create custom styles or layouts you’ll have to do that on the Mac to get them on your iOS device. Added to the capability to export documents in Word or PDF format is the capability to export a document directly to EPUB and open it in an appropriate iOS app of your choice. Pages ’09 export is also available.

Numbers — Like Pages, the Mac version of Numbers also sports a simplified interface, with context-sensitive tools replacing floating inspectors and coaching tips to help you figure out which tools do what. Conditional highlighting and animated charts make data visualization more dynamic, and complete cross-platform compatibility between your Mac, iOS devices, and iCloud make it possible to continue your work as you move from device to device.

Of course, the cross-platform capability means a file format change has come to Numbers too; fortunately, you can export in the old Numbers ‘09 format if necessary. The same sharing capability that is available in Pages has come to Numbers as well, including real-time collaboration on the Web using Numbers for iCloud: those working with Windows users no longer need export in Excel format because Windows users can now access and edit those documents in their Web browsers when you send them a link.

As with Pages on iOS, Numbers for iOS has undergone an iOS 7 facelift, with the concomitant interface simplifications and integrated coaching tips to help you navigate the new and altered capabilities of the app. Among other features are the capability to create interactive forms that you can link into a spreadsheet, so you can do things like enter your shopping list, add prices on your iPhone as you walk the aisles of the grocery store, and have the data appear in your household budget spreadsheet. Interactive charts have also been added to the selection of 2D and 3D charts available in the previous version.

Keynote — The upgraded Keynote for Mac gets the same simplification makeover as the other iWork apps for Mac, and, yes, you’ll find coaching tips come with it, too. You’ll also find new effects and transitions to explore, and an updated Presenter Display with which you can edit your notes while you present — and you can even use as many as six displays simultaneously.

The file format has changed with this version as well, but you can export to Keynote ’09 format if you have the need. And, while you can export to and import from PowerPoint as you previously could, you can also make use of Keynote in iCloud to collaborate with Windows users directly, using a shared link and a Web browser. Complete compatibility with the iOS version of Keynote is, of course, included.

Keynote for iOS has also been redesigned to look at home in iOS 7, including new interactive chart capabilities much like the Numbers update provides. Animations have been beefed up as well, and presentations can be shared on the Web, just as they can with the Mac version.

Excited by all these great new features? Calm down: there is one completely predictable fly in the free app ointment, and that has to do with the “free” part. The free versions of the iLife and iWork apps are available fresh only to purchasers of new Macs or iOS devices and to those who activated their iOS devices after 1 September 2013.

Of course, if you already own these apps, the upgrades are free via Software Update or the Mac App Store for the Mac apps and the App Store for the iOS apps. However, if you aren’t buying new Apple hardware, and you don’t already own the previous versions, you’ll still have to pay up for these apps.

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