Hoping to keep its massive iPod marketshare and continue its dominance in the music industry, Apple is looking ahead at its possible competitors, which may include Microsoft, according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. In an interview with Newsweek, Jobs predicts that Microsoft may get into the business of making MP3 players, saying that a unifying force may be necessary to take on the iPod/iTunes ecosystem: “The problem is, the PC model doesn’t work in the consumer electronics industry, where you’ve got all these companies and some does one thing and another does another thing. It just doesn’t work. What’s going to happen is that Microsoft is going to have to get into the hardware business of making MP3 players. This year. X-player, or whatever,” Jobs said in response to whether there were an “iPod-killers” that surfaced at last week’s CES show in Las Vegas.
For the same £55/$79 as last year’s product, Apple has strengthened the Web focus of its iLife ’06 creativity suite, with new multimedia-sharing features just shy of full-fledged social networking, podcast-creation capabilities for GarageBand 2, and brand-new iWeb, a Web page design application.
The media-sharing features are most pronounced in iPhoto 6 and GarageBand 2. The former gains a performance boost; a higher limit of 250,000 photos; full-screen photo editing; one-click effects; and improved book, calendar, and Shutterfly-like card publishing. In addition, the new version includes “photocasting,” which Apple calls “podcasting for photos.” With iPhoto 6, you can invite friends to subscribe to a photo album; each time you update it, all subscribers are notified, and if they have iPhoto 6, their copy of the album is automatically updated. You can also subscribe using any RSS-compatible browser or RSS reader.
GarageBand 2 includes features such as automatic ducking, voice recording and the ability to record interviews over iChat; all this can be compiled into a podcast with one click.
iWeb, the new Web page creation application, lets you build template-based sites by dragging and dropping images and selecting and entering text–no HTML experience required. This Web design application also gives you access to all your iLife media so that you can also easily integrate podcasts and iTunes playlists, as well as create blog entries.
New to iMovie HD 6 are animated themes, real-time effects and titles, new audio tools and sound effects, one-click export, and the ability to open multiple projects at once. Similarly, iDVD 6 gets new themes, improved slide shows, and the ability to make wide-screen DVDs.
Upside: For those who want to show their lives online, Apple’s overall integration of apps makes iLife ’06 perhaps the simplest and most powerful solution for creating, managing, and presenting multimedia over the Internet. And though Apple strongly recommends its .Mac service (which costs an annual fee) for hosting iWeb sites, you can upload them to other remote servers. Though other improvements are less flashy, regular iLife users will certainly appreciate the iPhoto speed and library-size improvements, as well as the visual boost iDVD 6 and iMovie 6 get from animated menus.
Downside: Depending on your point of view, the £55/$79 is either a bargain or a robbery. On the one hand, the ’06 package includes the new application iWeb and strong revamps of iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, and GarageBand; on the other, there is no upgrade path for owners of previous versions, meaning that users virtually end up paying a subscription fee to keep their apps current. If you have little desire to share your creations with others, then new creation tools alone have to justify the $79 price. For experienced Web developers, iWeb will not be a viable solution. If you’re on a budget, iPhoto’s new book, calendar, and card features (which all cost to order) could be tempting enough to break the bank–consider yourself forewarned.
Outlook: Though it seems an odd choice for filling that role, GarageBand 2 could take the podcasting world by storm. If you’re already hooked on the Internet, or you want to be, iLife ’06 gives you the tools you’ll need in one convenient package. And it’s great that iLife ’06 ships with both Intel- and PowerPC-native versions, so it will run at the best speed whether your Mac is new or old.
Review from CNET.
There was some heavy irony in Steve Jobs’ keynote earlier this week. Despite the fact that the entire presentation was done using Keynote (part of iWork), the release of iWork ’06 received very little attention during the keynote. Basically, Steve spent about 30 seconds saying “iWork ’06 is also released; it’s a cool product with great new themes and features. Check it out.” Huh? At its introduction last year, iWork got the full song and dance and features review; this year, it barely merits a mention.
Luckily, iWork ’06 was basically immediately available, and I’ve been using it somewhat extensively this week—I updated all of my presentations to take advantage of some new features in Keynote, and I’ve taken a look at the changes in Pages. Since not everyone can get down to the Expo to check out iWork for themselves, here’s a more detailed look at the changes in iWork ’06.
• Free-form shapes, curves, and masks: Many of the shapes in the suite now have adjustable point counts. Take the star, for instance. When you add a star to your document, you’ll get your typical five-point star. But using a very slick interface, you can easily increase or decrease that number:
Just drag the slider, and the point count on the star changes in real time. You can also change the size of the circular center by dragging the small white circular control in the center of the star. Make the circular area smaller, and your star has longer, sharper arms; make it larger, and you’ll get short, stubby arms. You can also use any shape you create as a mask for images, leading to all sorts of creative cut-out ideas. (A mask will hide anything in the image that lies outside the area of the shape you’re using as the mask). There’s also a free-form curve tool for drawing your own shapes.• Tables with calculations: Instead of rows and columns of static numbers, you can now create tables that have calculated values in them. While far from Apple’s own version of Excel, the ability to do some basic math in table cells is a huge timesaver.
In addition, you can format table cells to add currency indicators, show a different number of decimals, and insert thousands separators.
• 3-D Charts: Using 3-D charts, you can add pizzaz while improving readability and adding a ‘wow’ factor to your data. Apple’s come up with a pretty good interface for controlling the appearance of your 3-D charts.
• Onscreen image adjustments: Just like iPhoto, you can now make onscreen adjustments to your images.
Brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness and more can now be modified with the semi-transparent overlay.Within Keynote, there are numerous small improvements, but I’ve found the following to be the most interesting and/or useful:
• New themes: In addition to the existing Keynote themes, the new release adds six new themes, two of which are available in HD resolutions (up to 1920×1080).
White Corners and Modern Portfolio are the two HD themes, available in sizes up to 1920×1080; the others offer the Keynote standards of 800×600 or 1024×768.
• New transitions: There are seven new transitions in Keynote, six of which are in 3-D transitions. I’m particularly fond of the “opening door” and “reflections” effects. Both are visually interesting without being too distracting. • Interleaved bullet builds: Wow, that’s a mouthful! This is the feature I was most thrilled to see added to this version of Keynote. So what are they? Here’s a definition by way of example.
In prior versions of Keynote, if you had a slide with a bulleted list, and you wanted each bullet to appear one at a time, that’s all you could do—have the bullets appear, one after the other. You couldn’t, for instance, have an image appear and then vanish after a given bullet. This is a key aspect of many presentations, as you might want to show a visual for each bullet on a slide. Well, in the new version of Keynote, it’s easy to do this—there’s a checkbox that allows you to then insert additional actions between slide bullets.
While I haven’t had a ton of time to work with the new version of Pages as of yet (something about four sessions to present, booths to visit, and weblogs to write), I did spend a little while exploring some of its new features. Here are the ones that I think stand out as the most notable changes: Template improvements: While the first version of Pages offered a decent selection of templates, there are more than 25 new templates in the new version—66 in all now. There are also new categories of templates, including Flyers (five types), Posters (six), Business (four), Creative (three). See screenshot at left for an example.
One interesting fact is that some templates are automatically tied in to your Address Book. I opened the For Sale flyer, for instance, and was somewhat surprised to find it already populated with my home phone number! This feature is controlled through a new Merge tab on the Link panel of the Inspector; you can pull fields such as name, email, and address. This is a powerful addition, as it makes creating individually customized documents a snap. You should, however, be careful when using certain templates to make sure that the proper information is being pulled from your card!• Auto-correction: Similar to Word, there’s a new Auto-Correction preference. Using this panel, you can specify a bunch of shortcuts that will be automatically replaced when encountered—type (c), for instance, and Pages will insert the © symbol.
You can add and remove shortcuts, and set preferences for “smart quotes,” capitalization fixes, and e-mail/Web address detection.
• Pages sidebar improvements: The sidebar in Pages, which is confusingly also titled Pages, shows a thumbnail of each page in your document. In the new release, this feature has been improved to show facing pages as they would be printed.
This makes it much easier to get a feel for how your printed document will appear. You can also drag and drop to reorder pages in the sidebar, or delete them entirely.
While Keynote has received the most visible improvements in the iWork suite, the changes to Pages help make an already-solid product even better.
Review from MacWorld.com
Apple has filed to trademark the phrase “Mobile Me” … speculation is this is leading up to an Apple iPod phone. One designed by Apple, and not one that simply licenses the FairPlay DRM as the ROKR E1 did.
If you search the U.S. Patent Office site you can find the Mobile Me information. This sounds like a heck of a lot more than an iTunes Phone. I am not sure whether it would be a good call for Apple as the main basis for an iPod is music. Although they would sure as hell sell tonnes of these!!!
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