iReview Macworld Keynote ‘09

At the Macworld Keynote, Phil Schiller introduced updates to Apple’s popular iLife and iWork Suites and announced a redesigned 17” MacBook Pro with breakthrough technology. The “One Last Thing….” addendum to the presentation publicized the end of Digital Rights Management (DRM) for music and the new ability to download songs over the 3G cellular network direct to your iPhone and iPod Touch!

The bevy of new product announcements from Apple Tuesday demonstrates innovation and a goal of delivering terrific products to its customers.

The following are brief overviews of the new introductions with more detailed, hands-on reviews to follow at a later date.

iLife ’09 updates iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband and iWeb, it also includes iDVD. It will be available in late January.

iPhoto ’09 now can organize your photos by people’s “Faces,” which utilizes powerful face detection and recognition software, and location or “Places,” which lets you discover and organize your photos by using geotagging information to chart and plot your travels. The application allows you to create slideshows with themes for your friends and family to enjoy. In addition, you now have simplified publishing and tagging of your photos to Facebook and Flickr.

iMovie ’09 has many more new features that enhance simplicity and functionality when editing video. Editing can now be done more precisely because of the greater flexibility and power of iMovie ’09. You can add effects to your video through themes and animated maps. If your footage is too shaky to view while keeping the contents of your latest meal down, no worries, there is an amazing video stabilization feature that will take care of the shakiness problem automatically. New titles, transitions and effects are added in this upgrade as well.

Garageband ’09 adds the following to its already incredible features: a tutorial on playing piano and guitar that comes with 9 basic lessons and the ability to buy ($4.99 each) lessons from famous artists such as Nora Jones and Sting!

iWork ’09 builds on the beautiful and easy to use components of Keynote, Pages and Numbers to deliver more powerful and advanced features. It began shipping yesterday.

Numbers ’09 will now let you categorize your charts by any table categories that suit your needs. Using formulas within your spreadsheets is even easier with 250 included functions to choose from as well as designing your own custom ones. A formula list view will let you evaluate at a glance all of the calculations used in your spreadsheet. There are more templates and charts to choose from as well as numerous other additions and improvements.

Pages ’09 expands on its existing features by adding dynamic outlines to help organize your writings. It provides a full screen view to let you focus on your work and block out any distractions on your screen. Mail merge with Numbers spreadsheet data and even more templates to choose from for word processing and page layout projects. Creating advanced equations and adding citations for your papers is now simply done through MathType and EndNote features.

Keynote ’09 includes easy to set-up sophisticated animations and effects, more text and object-based transitions to deliver that extra pizzaz for all your presentations. There is even a keynote remote application available from the App store for $0.99 that allows you to not only control the progression of slides, but to see presenter’s notes and the actual slides on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

All iWork documents can now be shared through a new online service that Apple announced yesterday called This allows multiple parties to share, review and comment on the documents through a modern browser and even download it to their Mac or PC in iWork, PDF or Microsoft Office files. This is especially handy if multiple people are involved or if the files are large. The web interface looks like you are looking at iWork on your local machine even if you are running on a PC. Collaboration and sharing is even easier with iWork ’09.

This service is currently in Beta testing and is fee free but it will eventually become a fee-based service.

The new 17” MacBook Pro made its debut Tuesday.

As expected, it sports the redesigned unibody enclosure that the MacBook and 15” MacBook Pro displayed when they were introduced last October. It also incorporates the clickable glass track pad and integrated and discrete NVIDIA graphic chips.

At this introduction, Apple touted the breakthrough battery technology that gives this notebook the ability to have a slim form, keeps it lightweight compared to other 17” notebooks, and delivers up to 8 hours of battery life (60% greater batter life over the previous model) from a single charge with the ability to recharge 1000 times, which is more than three times the industry standard.

This minimizes battery waste and aside from all the other environmentally friendly materials already used in all of Apple’s notebooks, makes this notebook even more environmentally responsible. The battery is not user removable and will need to be replaced by an Apple Service Provider.

The new notebook will begin shipping at the end of this month.

Possibly the biggest news was that iTunes will now be selling music without Digital Rights Management (DRM), thereby allowing you to copy the song to as many computers, iPods, iPhones you choose and at a higher bit rate encoding (256 Kbs AAC) for better quality!

Of course pricing for songs will be variable beginning on April 1, 2009, consisting of three tiers, $0.69, $0.99 and $1.29 per song.

The final announcement revealed that the iTunes Music Store on your iPhone or iPod Touch will now let you download songs over the 3G cellular network in addition to Wifi networks, which gives you the ability to buy songs pretty much anywhere (as long as there is 3G cellular service available) and anytime.

That’s a brief rundown of some of the exciting announcements Phil Schiller dazzled us with yesterday.

All in all, he did a fine job delivering the Keynote, demonstrating once again that Apple continues to innovate and excel leaving its competition behind.

For those analysts and pundits who think the performance and product introductions were lackluster:

Most if not all consumer electronic companies do not produce earth shattering, groundbreaking products every year, however, constant evolution can still be challenging especially when you strive to deliver products that people want or need to make themselves more productive or creative or to just have some fun with.

I believe Apple does that and there will be plenty of opportunities (Special Events and WWDC) for Apple to announce new and innovative products on their own terms at the right time.

There were a lot of people around the world who tuned in to check out what was announced at Macworld, especially through news reports, blog entries and numerous media outlets.

Can you name any other hardware or software maker that can draw that kind of attention to supposed “lackluster” offerings and then generate 3.4 million visitors a week (or 100 Macworld Expos a week) through their retail stores? Can’t think of too many, huh?

What are your thoughts about the announcements? What other products would you liked to have seen?

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