The updated softwares – iLife’09 and iWork’09 – are definitely worth looking into. Again, these are not revolutionary changes to the two application suits, but a maturing of softwares that targets the general consumers, but sprinkled with professional features that are made easy to use. Yes, even your grandma can definitely do those edits with these new tools.
You can see the new features here at their respective pages – “iLife’09″:http://www.apple.com/ilife/ and “iWork’09″:http://www.apple.com/iwork/. But here are some of the more interesting new features.
With iWork’08, “Pages”:http://www.apple.com/iwork/pages/ had gain tools and features that can match Microsoft Word. The updated Pages in iWork’09, hopes to improve your workflow and productivity when you are writing your documents. The new Dynamic Outliner tool makes it easier to organize and structure your thoughts while the Full-screen mode helps you to focus without distractions from your other applications.
There is also a focus to integrate the various applications within the iWork suit. In Pages, you can now do mail merge with spreadsheets done within Numbers. Previously you can only do so with the Address Book. This will be popular with the business world as many uses the spreadsheet to consolidate business associates and contacts for mail distribution.
Other improvements includes the integration with MathType and Endnote for creating sophisticated mathematical equations and adding citations respectively.
“Numbers”:http://www.apple.com/iwork/numbers/ was introduced with iWork’08 and it had marginal success over the incumbent Microsoft Excel. Much of the complains were the small sets of functions that were available in Numbers. With iWorks’09, Apple has expanded the “function list”:http://www.apple.com/iwork/numbers/functions.html to include up to 250+ functions. There is also a new Formula List view that gives an overview of all functions used within a spreadsheet.
Numbers also includes a new feature that can create table categories based on datas in existing tables. There are also some new charting tools to give you attractive looking charts for presentation.
Also as part of the tighter integration among the iWork application, any charts from Numbers that are pasted into Pages documents or Keynote presentation are automatically linked to the Numbers spreadsheet. Any changes in Numbers will be reflected in Pages or Keynote when you update the chart.
Keynote has become my main tool for creating attractive looking and interactive presentations, especially when Powerpoint feels much bloated and slow when compared to Keynote. What makes Keynote stand out is also the interesting transitions that you can apply to individual objects or slides. With iWork’09, Apple has added a few more bells and whistles to the list – Magic Move, Text and Object based transitions and more 3D charts and chart animation.
But what I like best in the new Keynote, is the availability of the “Keynote Remote(iTunes Link)”:http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=300719251&mt=8 – using your iPhone or iPod Touch to remotely control your presentation via WiFi. You can view your presentation note on your iPhone screen, or also view the upcoming slides. To control your slide, you just need to swipe your finger across the screen on your iPhone.
Lastly, Apple also introduced iWork.com, a web-based service that allows you to share your iWork documents, presentations and spreadsheets to anyone with a browser. This works across most modern browsers and operating systems and also can be viewed in iPhone/iPod Touch.
iWork.com at the moment, is an open beta which anyone can subscribe to via iWork’09. With it, comes 1GB of space and each document will be up there for 120 days. Apple said that it will become a fee-based service when it is officially released but not much detail on how it will be charged. Hopefully, this will be provided to MobileMe users as a new service.
iWork.com allows you to upload your Pages document, Keynote presentation and Numbers spreadsheet online for you to share with others to view and to comment. You can’t let others edit the document, unlike Google Docs. But others whom you have invited to view that document, can leave comments and notes on the document.
Your uploaded file is presented as you created it, with the same layout, fonts, graphics and the user-interface is just like an iWork application, minus the editing tools.
When you upload, you are also given the options to prepare the files in various formats – iWork’09 or iWork’08, Microsoft Office and PDF – which your viewers can easily download in the format of their choice.
Though the functions of iWork.com is quite fundamental – upload for viewing and sharing – the potential of Apple to develop this as an online collaboration and editing tool is there, though Apple might not do so to protect the iWork suit.
With its cross-OS and browser interface, iWork.com can become a useful productivity tool for business users who are looking for instant feedbacks on their documents.
As the display of the document online is exactly as what you have done offline, iWork.com can also be portable presentation tool that you can have without having to lug your laptop around. Just grab any work station and you can have your documents ready for show and tell.
h4. To buy or not to buy?
Like iLife’09, the iWork’09 suit costs S$138 for a single license and S$168 for a 5 license family pack. In the US, you can pre-install iWork’09 onto any new Macs purchased by paying additional S$72 but that unfortunately is not available in the Singapore Store.
So are the new features worth the money? If you are an iWork’08 user, the updated features might not be sufficient to pay for a completely new pack as there are no upgrade path for existing users. But if are still a Microsoft Office user, I’d strongly recommend that you have a look at iWork’09. Try iWork’09 free at this “page”:http://www.apple.com/sg/iwork/download-trial/ and see for yourself.