CUPERTINO, Calif.—Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, announced a total refresh for the iMac all-in-one desktop computer line, plus “completely new versions” of Apples iLife and iWork application suites, the latter gaining Numbers, a new spreadsheet application, today at a press event at the companys campus here.
Jobs also showed new features for Apples $99.95-per-year .Mac online service.
Reflecting their place in what Jobs called “a very clean product line”, the new iMacs, available today, feature a new, aluminum-and-glass enclosure that echo the professional look of Apples Mac Pro and MacBook Pro products. The new line includes 20- and 24-inch models, dropping the previous generations 17-inch model.
However, Jobs said, a low-end 20-inch model is priced at $1,119, the same as the 17-inch obsolete model. This includes a glossy LCD screen, a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 1GB of RAM, a slot-load 8x SuperDrive, an ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT video card, and a 250GB Serial ATA hard drive.
The next step up is a $1,499 20-inch model , but with 2.4GHz processor, a 320GB Serial ATA hard drive and an ATI Radeon 2600 PRO video card with 256MB of RAM. Identical specs are found in the top-of-the-line model, which at $1,799 adds a 24-inch glossy screen.
To read about why educators are Apples new target for the iMac, click here.
All models also include built-in iSight video cameras, 802.11n wireless networking, stereo speakers and microphone, mini-DVI (Digital Video Interactive), wireless Apple Remote, Bluetooth 2.0, Apples Mighty Mouse and a new, low-profile keyboard. A wireless, compact version of the keyboard, without a number pad, is available as a $30 build-to-order option, or $50 for a wireless keyboard and mouse package.
Jobs also stressed that Apple considered how to make their products more environmentally-friendly, and stressed that the aluminum and glass that went into the new iMacs were recyclable. (He did not mention the subject of heavy metals in motherboards.)
The Software Side
Jobs spent the lions share of the event talking about and demonstrating Apples new software and services updates.
For software, Jobs debuted “the biggest change in iLife since we first introduced it.”
iLife 08, available today for $79, will still include the familiar iPhoto, iDVD, iWeb, GarageBand and iMovie applications. But, Jobs said, some of these applications are “dramatically enhanced” while one has been completely replaced.
The biggest change comes in iPhoto 08. The interface and method of creating videos from raw clips has been overhauled, offering a more iTunes-like clip browsing from a single library.
“This allows super-fast movie creation,” Jobs said, when paired with iMovie 08s ability to “skim” the content of clips from within their thumbnails.
The new iMovie will also allow users to encode movies and share them through iTunes, YouTube and a new gallery feature added to the .Mac service, all through one menu option.
iPhoto 08 also gains integration with the new .Mac Web Gallery feature Jobs debuted; with “one-button photo sharing”, iPhoto 08 users will be able to upload and share photo albums via a “rich Web 2.0” interface that, Jobs said, will work on any browser on the Mac and Windows operating systems.
.Mac Web Gallery will also let users choose if friends can upload their own photos and movies to their Web pages. If so, these photos will automatically be uploaded to the original users home iPhoto application. And, Jobs said, iPhones will now be able to use a “Send to Web Gallery” feature, for live, remote updating of online photo galleries.
Also new for iPhoto 08 is the Events view, which automatically groups photos by day; a unified search feature; more powerful editing tools; theme-based home printing; and the ability to “hide” photos for later review.
iWeb 08 gains “live Web widgets,” which allows users to place Google Maps and other features in their Web pages, Google AdSense integration and a media index page option. Users will also be able to use their personal domains and switch themes after the page has launched.
The DVD authoring application iDVD 08 gets performance improvements, pro-quality encoding features and new themes.
GarageBand gains multi-take recording, 24-bit audio, basic notation printing and more.
In addition, Jobs showed off iWork 08, available today for $79. New to the suite is Numbers, “the spreadsheet for the rest of us,” as Jobs called it.
Numbers will import and export “almost all” Microsoft Excel documents, though when questioned, Jobs said Numbers does not offer support for Excel macros.
Instead, Numbers seems to center around a friendlier user model for working on spreadsheets, with formulas that use descriptive terms rather than variables, sliders that can show live changes in values and tables, user-adjustable print previews and other features similar to those in Pages, iWorks document creation application.
Pages 08 itself has been revised from previous versions and will offer two modes. Since “a lot of people wanted to use it as a word processor,” Jobs said, Pages 08 will offer either both a word-processor interface and a page-layout one. Jobs also said Pages 08 will offer change tracking compatible with Microsoft Words, a contextual format bar and 140 design templates.
Keynote, the third iWork application, will gain new text effects, transitions and themes. In addition, it will offer an instant masking and alpha-channel feature to trim out photo elements and “A to B animations” for customizing motion on Keynote slides.
Jobs said that iLife 08 will be bundled with all Mac computers starting today, and that both iLife 08 and iWork 08 will work with the current Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” and Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” operating systems.
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