Prior to today’s keynote there were plenty of speculation as to whether Apple would roll out a iPhone Nano, new Mac Minis, or a new iMac. Unfortunately none of those happened. Launching some new innovative products would have been a great way to show the world that Apple can survive with Steve Jobs temporarily out of the picture; however they failed to stir up any excitement.
Phil Schiller, the SVP of Marketing at Apple, filled in for Jobs. He began by presenting a lot of new software applications that would soon become available to Mac users: iLife ’09 and iWork ’09.
Let’s start with the applications included in iLife ’09. The new version of iPhone features Facial Recognition, which will automatically scan through your entire library and tag people in each image once you assign a name to a face. Users will then have the ability to browse through their photos by “Faces” to find every instance that a person appears throughout your entire photo gallery. iPhoto will now also support Geo-tagging, which will take coordinates from GPS enabled imaging devices such as theÂ iPhone (or Blackberry Storm) and assigns locations to where they were taken. A built-in interactive mapping tool, based on Google Maps, will allow browsing through your photos by locating them as pinpoints on a map. Finally users will also have instant way of uploading images directly to Facebook or Flickr. Tagged faces will be tagged on Facebook while Geo-tagged images will be noted on Flickr. iMovie ’09 and GarageBand ’09 also received upgrades which add new functionality. iLife ’09 will be included on all new Macs, but if you have an older machine it will become available for $79 this month.
Next up was iWork ’09. Keynote ’09 now offers the ability to create advance transition effects with simple commands.Â The program will be able to support displaying 3D graphs and charts. A new iPhone and iPod Touch application will also become available for 99 cents, turning your portable device into a remote control. Unlike a standard clicker, the application will display presenter notes and slides, which many speakers may soon adore. Pages â€™09 and Numbers ’09 also received upgrades. Apple also announced iWork.com, which allows users to easily upload and share their documents online with others. iWork ’09 is now available for $79 in retail stores; however it will only run you $49 if you buy it at the time you purchase a new Mac.
Last but not least was the new 17-inch MacBook Pro. When Apple released the new 13-inch MacBook and the 15-inch MacBook Pro late last year, the 17-inch model was left in the dark with the old body. Today Apple refreshed the design giving the 17-inch MacBook Pro the new single piece aluminum body that its smaller siblings share. Most notable about this monstrous machine might be the fact that Apple claims a whopping eight hour battery life. And the unit isn’t too bulky either. It retains .98-inches thick body throughout and weighs about 6.6 pounds making it both the thinnest and lightest 17-inch notebook on the market. The unit is loaded with a LED-backlit 1920×1080 resolution display, now offered in glossy and matte. Also has the newly introduced large glass Multi-Touch trackpad, which clicks. It can be configured with Intel latest Core 2 Duo processor running at 2.93 GHz, up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and either a 320GB 7200RPM HDD or a 256GB SSD. And just like the 15-inch MacBook Pro, it comes with both the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M and 9600GT for either saving battery life or for high performance, respectively. It all sounds great, but I personally don’t know too many people who are willing to spend $2,799, which is the starting price. But if you happen to be interested, units will begin to ship at the end of this month. Apple has already begun taking pre-orders.
Finally Schiller announced the new variable pricing scheme on iTunes. Previously all songs were priced at 99-cents; with the new scheme, songs will be available for download for as low as 67-cents, the standard 99-cent price, or for as high as $1.29 cents. Although Schiller claims more songs will become available at the lower price than the higher, time will show whether this will be beneficial to everyone. And as a bonus, Apple will begin to turn 8 million of its 10 million songs DRM Free, by the end of March. Those who wish to upgrade to the DRM Free tracks will have the ability to do so by paying 30 cents per song or 30% of the album price. I’m personally glad to see this day finally coming!
Overall, the entire Keynote seemed to be bummer. Other than the software, there’s wasn’t much that would excite the average Apple Fan or consumer. Unless you’ll planning on buying a notebook for nearly three grand, of course. Either way, CES in Las Vegas gets kicked off tomorrow with Press Day. Skatter Tech will be on the ground with coverage, so stick around!