Today's Steve Jobs-less MacWorld keynote wasn't a blockbuster, but was instead filled with lots of bite-sized surprises.
The last ever Macworld keynote has now come and gone. As you wake up this morning, you're probably wondering what you missed?
The short answer, sadly, is not very much.
This keynote was always going to be a let down. With the company's charismatic CEO Steve Jobs away putting on weight, Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller took the reins to introduce three new things.
The first, as predicted were updates to the popular suite of applications called iLife and iWork.
The refresh in iLife '09, iPhoto gets the biggest updates, and is now packed full of more social tools and face tagging. That's right, like Google and Facebook already do, now iPhoto lets you find people based on their mug shot, and classify them into groups.
iPhoto now also supports cameras that add geotags to images, like the iPhone. But if your camera doesn't support geotags you can add locations manually, via a slick Google Maps interface.
There's now native Facebook and Flickr integration, and in a nice twist, any tags that other Facebook users apply to your photos get automatically imported back in to your photo library. Slick.
iMovie '09 finally gets some of the features that should have been there in the first place. Things like a precision editor, better drag & drop support and better audio editing. But Apple also added some interesting new features like video stabilisation that removes 'jitters from movies', animated travel maps and dynamic themes.
GarageBand '09 also got the demo treatment and received a new feature called 'Learn to Play' where famous instructors like Norah Jones or Sting (to name a few) let teach you how to play their songs. Nine basic lessons come bundled with GarageBand '09 and more will cost USD $4.99 per lesson.
iLife '09 comes standard on all new Macs or costs $129. It should ship this month.
Next up, iWork got upgraded.
The new versions of Keynote gets new themes, animations and an optional iPhone Keynote remote that lets you control a presentation from your iPhone using swipe gestures to move between slides.
Pages '09 gets a full screen view, dynamic outlines, mail merge (with Numbers) and MathType and EndNote support (great for students).
iWork costs $129 and is shipping now.
Schiller also previewed a new beta service from Apple called iWork.com which provides the ability to share your iWorks documents over web. Friends can leave comments but not actually do any editing. We'll wait till we see it before commenting.
The big hardware announcement of the day was the introduction of the new 17" MacBook Pro.
This laptop is a beast; 1920 x 1200, 700:1 contrast ratio display (with a matte option), 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo (with an option to upgrade to 2.93GHz), up to 8GB Ram, and battery life of up to 8 hours. However, to increase battery life Apple has made the battery non-user replaceable (but it claims new technology means the batteries should have a five year life span.) In true Apple form, if you need a spare battery for your notebook, buy the 13 or 15" or shut up.
The 17" MacBook Pro starts at $4499 but a fully spec'd machine, with 8GB Ram and faster processor will cost you $7299 (the 8GB Ram alone costs $2100).
Lastly, Phil ended the keynote with a story that broke yesterday - iTunes is going DRM free with 8 million songs DRM-free now, and an additional 2 million by the end of the quarter (US iTunes). In the US, pricing will also now be in three bands, .69c, .99c and $1.29. In Australia, pricing remains at $1.69 but most tracks are now DRM free, 256-Kbps AAC. You can also upgrade your existing music for 50c per song, or 30 percent of the album price.
One last thing: the iPhone WiFi music store is now no longer requires just WiFi -- music can be downloaded over 3G data networks too. More strain on the 3G networks, just what the carriers like to hear!