Apple unveils 17in MacBook, iLife tweaks, Tony Bennett
Jobs-free keynote fails to inspire
Macworld Expo In one of the least eventful keynote speeches in recent memory, Apple's SVP Phil Schiller, filling in for the ailing Steve Jobs, announced upgrades to iLife and iWork, an upgraded 17-inch MacBook, and iTunes Store pricing-structure changes and DRM-removal plans.
A performer is only as good as his material - but Phil Schiller rose to the occasion
It's hard to fault Schiller for the lack of excitement. In fact, he did a commendable job of turning a mere series of upgrades into a crowd-pleasing event - or, rather, a crowd-satisfying event.
To be fair, iLife '09, iWork '09, and the new 17-inch MacBook Pro are solid - if not earth-shattering - upgrades, and the iTunes news was welcome - if a bit short on details. It's just that after all the rumors of an upgraded Mac mini, media server, tablet Mac, or possibly just Steve Jobs dropping by to say "howdy," the event was a bit of a letdown.
Face-detection technology is now built into iLife's photo organizer, editor, and slideshow producer, allowing it to perform a few new tricks, such as organizing photos into a "Faces" library that groups photos by the people appearing in them. Face detection is also used to center thumbnails of photos on a face and to auto-crop images for slideshows or printed books.
A new "Places" library is organized by GPS geo-tagging metadata embedded in each image by GPS-enabled cameras. If your camera is not so enabled, an included database of thousands of place names eases your chore of manually assigning places to them. Google-supplied maps - with both street and satellite views - display pins that mark and access place-related groupings of photos.
iPhoto's Places blends Google maps with GPS geotagging
Slideshows can now be created with canned themes and can use face-detection to center and crop photos to emphasize the faces of folks in them. iPhoto's photobook printing service can also center and crop using the same technology.
When the completely rewritten iMovie '08 was introduced last year, many users missed the more-precise control offered by its previous version. According to Schiller, their complaints were a major reason for the upgrades in iMovie '09.
New is a "Precision Editor" that returns much of the missing, well, precision. It's now possible, for example, to easily and precisely cut audio from one clip and paste it over another or to extend one clip's audio into the next clip.
Other new features include a two-step image-stabilization function, a library of new effects, an enhanced clip inspector, animated map routes in 2D and 3D (cue the '30s film-noir opening credits), and more.
GarageBand's marquee new feature - and new revenue stream for Apple - is its "Learn to Play" mode, in which basic keyboard and guitar lessons are presented in an HD video of a teacher above an animated keyboard or guitar fretboard displaying finger positions. GarageBand includes nine keyboard and nine guitar lessons that you'll need to download - but these first lessons are free.
The revenue stream comes from a new series of dowloadable $4.99 "Artist Lessons," in which famous, semi-famous, and who-the-hell-is-that-guy? artists teach you their chops and reminisce about the inspiration for the songs they're demonstrating. The first round of artists will include Sting, Patrick Stump, John Fogarty, Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones, and more. According to Schiller, Apple will "continue to add more and more."
GarageBand's Lesson Store opens up a new $4.99-a-pop revenue stream for Apple
No upgrade information about iWeb and iDVD was provided.
When it ships in late January, iLife '09 will appear on all new Macs and cost $79 as a boxed "upgrade." A five-Mac "family pack" will be available for $99.
Next page: iWork '09
Not a whimper, but not a bang
I just finished watching the key note. I commend Phil for doing as good a job as could be expected, after all he doesn't have the gift for gab that Steve has. Over all I was pleased with the tweaks to the iLife and iWorks apps and the new bundle with OS X is good deal. While there were no "wow" moments as there have been in the past it was at least a pleasant and respectable close to MacWorld.
The none swappable battery thing I admit confuses me, I hear their reasoning but at the end of the day swappable batteries in a laptop computer should be a no brainer. After all for a great many people carrying a fully charged spare is standard operating procedure as they often will be some time/distance between a suitable power outlet to charge up. Now if they are going to deliver the battery life promised it might not be as huge an issue, but as everyone who has used a portable computer regardless of the manufacturer can attest to. The stated battery life is rarely if ever equal to what is actually delivered. I foresee a roll back on Apples part fairly soon on this issue as a matter of fact I'd be surprised if their engineers weren't already working on a different design to accommodate what is going to be peoples biggest complaint regarding the new MacBooks.
I did like the tweaks to the various apps though and the new version of iMovie looks great. It wont fit everyone's video editing needs to be sure. But it's now what 90%+ of the home video editing market will want/need. Over all nothing that stands out but as I said a nice low key end to an era. Hopefully Apple will take the money saved not doing MacWorld and pony up that extra cash to their engineers to develop a proper netbook or some good upgrades to the mini.
Re: "If having a fixed battery reduces costs"
"If having a fixed battery reduces costs"
Apparently, it doesn't...
I don't care about either argument.
If I'm paying £2k+ for a laptop, I want the bloody CHOICE.
Not only are Apple expos getting boring, but the products just defy logic.
I don't know about Steve's physical health, but all indications are he definitely needs a head doctor.
Paris, cause even she has use for removable batteries occasionally.
With regard to the RAM chat above, it makes sense not to let Joe Average swap the RAM himself as most of you reading this will remember that to swap RAM one should remove the battery and press the power button to ensure the kit is fully discharged.
A few of you may also remember the fleeting panic when one forgot to do this, found a stick of the stuff was a bit stuck and one's fingers were too fat or nails too short to get it out so grabbed a pair of tweezers and then filled one's pants when the sparks began...
Non-removable battery means the RAM should definitely should be non-removable! (easily)
Is it just me, or does it not seem that if making the battery removable would take up precious chassis space, it would make more sense to have non-removable batteries on the MB and MBP15, than on the MBP17 where there is far more chassis space available?
If they can fit the same spec of the MBP17 (i.e. Core2Duo, dual graphics cards, HDD/SSD, optical drive and RAM) into a 15 inch chassis, would that not leave them with loads of space to spare, to fit in an even bigger battery AND a release mechanism for it? The only component that might take up more space is the inverter for the larger LCD.... oh, and that generous extra 1 USB port.