Liveblogging the Macworld Keynote
SAN FRANCISCO -- In a few minutes from now, Steve Jobs will not give the keynote presentation that opens Macworld Expo here. Apple's bespectacled chief executive, clad in his typical jeans and black turtleneck, will not surprise the packed audience by unveiling new hardware and software, only some of them predicted by the Mac-rumor sites.
Instead, the role of Steve Jobs will be played by Apple marketing vice president Phil Schiller for this year's production of Macworld.
Still interested in the keynote? Great. Stay on this page, and I'll update every few minutes during the event with the news as it happens.
9:03 a.m. PST: And we're off. Schiller says it's an "incredibly exciting time" at Apple and starts off with a slideshow of new Apple stores around the world and notes that store traffic equates to "100 Macworlds each week." (Hence, I think, the declining importance of Macworld to Apple's marketing.)
9:08 a.m. PST: Schiller outlines the three new things he'll talk about today, starting with a new version of the iLife multimedia suite, iLife '09. As usual, iPhoto leads off the suite. First new feature: "Faces," a way to organize photos based on who's in them. He says it uses face-detection technology (like what's in almost any digital camera today) to pick out faces, which you can then tag (like in Facebook).
9:11 a.m. PST: Face detection is coupled with a face-recognition routine that tries to find other pictures of the same person in your iPhoto library. (Note: Google's Picasa Web Albums site rolled out a feature like this a little while back).
9:13 a.m. PST: iPhoto lets you organize by place as well as face. The new Places feature reads "geotags" set by cameras (here's a piece by me on how that can work) and also lets you assign your own geotags using a Google Maps-linked interface.
9:15 a.m. PST: Still more on iPhoto '09: It also links to Facebook (which means it can read tags set by other Facebook users) and Flickr (which means it integrates with Flickr's geotagging support). It also adds slideshow themes--custom transitions and soundtracks for particular categories. Photo and book printing options also come with new themes.
9:20 a.m. PST: Schiller is now demoing iPhoto '09 on the Mac set up on the stage. He's showing how things like face recognition and geotagging work; the demo gods appear to be cooperating with him, as we're not seeing any error messages, stalls or crashes.
9:29 a.m. PST: Now Schiller is talking about iMovie '09, the movie editor that Apple rewrote from scratch for last year's update (and which a lot of iMovie vets didn't like because of all the older iMovie features that didn't make their way into the new release). He says that iMovie '09 makes up for that, adding all the editing options the old movie ever offered. (Note: I'm too inexperienced/apathetic at editing video to grok some of these details)
9:32 a.m. PST: Now we're demoing iMovie '09, which does appear a lot more complex and capable. For instance, you can copy the audio track from one scene and overlay it on another--one feature I missed in iMovie '08. One new feature: video stabilization, in which iMovie analyzes shaky footage and electronically irons out the bumps. That got a distinct "ooh" from the audience.
9:37 a.m. PST: There are also new effects you can apply to movies, like making them resemble antique film. And you can incorporate animated maps (think of the scenes in Indiana Jones flicks that show his progress around the world by plane/boat/pack mule as a moving red line).
9:42 a.m. PST: Note what wasn't discussed during the iMovie demo: Web uploads or exporting to iDVD. Next up: Garage Band, which adds an instruction module that can--in theory!--teach you how to play an instrument. Nine basic lessons each for guitar and piano come free with the app. You can also buy "Artist Lessons," for $4.99 each, in which name-brand musicians--like John Fogerty, Sting, Norah Jones and Sarah McLachlan--will teach you how to play one of their songs.
9:48 a.m. PST: iLife '09 ships "late January." Free on new Macs, $79.99 otherwise.
9:50 a.m. PST: Today's second big annnouncement: iWork '09, an update to the productivity suite Apple introduced last year. (Disclaimer: I liked it enough to buy a copy to use at home.) Schiller is beginning with iWork's Keynote presentation application, which includes some flashy new transition effects, charting styles and themes.
9:54 a.m. PST: Pages, the word processor in iWork, adds a full-screen view to stop you from being distracted; it blanks out everything else to leave with black text on a white sheet of paper. (WriteRoom's author must feel so flattered right now!) Pages also adds an outliner and a mail-merge feature that links to Numbers spreadsheets, not just a Mac's address book.
9:58 a.m. PST: The third ingredient in iWork, the Numbers spreadsheets, makes it easier to crank out tables, Schiller says. I see a lot of people who only use spreadsheets to make lists and tables, so this seems like a good area for improvement. There are also "more powerrful" functions and formulas (yes, I realize that some of you just nodded off at the mention of spreadsheet functions) and charts that can be linked into Pages and Keynote documents (this matches a longstanding capability of Microsoft Office).
10:02 a.m. PST: iWork is $79, or $49 with a new Mac--a price that means Apple really wants to steal market share from Microsoft Office for Mac--and ships today.
It requires Mac OS X Leopard.. .and so does iLife. It runs on Mac OS X Tiger or Leopard, while iLife requires Leopard. (A discounted box set of iLife '09, iWork '09 and Leopard will go on sale in late January).
10:06 a.m. PST: An iWork.com online service will let you share your documents online. Other people can read--not edit--and leave comments about each document through their browser (Schiller cites IE, Firefox and Safari compatibility). They can download an editable copy in iWork or Microsoft Office format as well.
10:09 a.m. PST: iWork.com launches today as a free service but will eventually come with a fee. One hopes that Apple's learned a thing or two about reliably providing a Web service since the snakebitten debut of MobileMe...
10:11 a.m. PST: Schiller's third announcement: a 17-inch MacBook Pro. He says it's .98 inches thin and weighs 6.6 lbs, making it the thinnest and lightest laptop with a screen that big.
10:14 a.m. PST: It's got the same kind of multitouch glass trackpad as this summer's MacBook and MacBook Pro. Schiller says the battery delivers Apple's "longest battery life ever"--eight hours on a charge, an Apple engineer says in a video. But that comes at a price: you can't remove the battery on your own. Like an iPhone or an iPod's, it's sealed inside the case.
10:19 a.m. PST: This battery can be recharged "up to a thousand times," which we're told equates to a five-year lifespan. Will that be an acceptable tradeoff on this model--or on other, cheaper models when it inevitably migrates to them? You tell me. And the price? $2,799, same as the old model. It ships in "late January."
10:24 a.m. PST: Schiller: "We do have one last thing at this Macworld keynote"--news about iTunes.
10:25 a.m. PST: Three things happening with iTunes (now the biggest music outlet in the U.S., Schiller notes). First is price. Apple will drop its 99-cents-a-song rate in April and allow three price tiers, 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29, at the record labels' description. "More songs will be offered at 69 than at 1.29," Schiller predicts.
10:28 a.m. PST: As of today, 8 million major-label songs will be available as iTunes Plus--no DRM, higher quality--with the remaining 2 million coming later this year. This gets the loudest applause of anything shown today. I think it's a good thing too. Oh, and you can now buy from iTunes on an iPhone over AT&T's wireless, not just WiFi.
10:30 a.m. PST: The keynote will end with the semi-traditional musical performance. Today's artist: Tony Bennett, singing "The Best Is Yet To Come."
10:33 a.m. PST: Bennett continues with "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." Awww....
10:40 a.m. PST: And that's a wrap. For those of you keeping score at home, it looks like the rumor sites totally blew it on Mac mini, iMac and Apple TV updates (unless Apple is about to pop out a press release announcing said revisions... nope, no such news on Apple's PR page). So what'd you think? Post your comments and questions in the comments.
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