Apple showed off revamped versions of its iLife and iWork apps Tuesday at its event in San Francisco. Both suites of apps, which include GarageBand, iPhoto, and Pages, are now free with any Mac computer or iOS device purchase.
Apple is calling this the biggest update to iWork ever, though some of the changes are subtle. The most notable change is a brand-new sharing feature that marries iWork on your Mac or iOS devices with the iWork for iCloud beta, Apple's office apps for the Web. You can now start a document or project on one device and pick up where you left off on another. Files that you share via iCloud can be opened by up to 20 people at once and edited in real-time. You can also edit documents from the web, through the iCloud Web site, which challenges Google's cloud-based and Web-based Google Drive, which offers word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation apps. iWork for iCloud is still in beta and works on Safari, Chrome, and Internet Explorer.
As far as the individual apps are concerned, Pages, Numbers and Keynote were reworked for iOS 7 and Mac OS X. They have all been redesigned with layouts that work well on both the desktop and on iOS. They also all have full file compatibility, meaning you can open and save docs in Microsoft Office or Apple's proprietary formats.
Keynote, Apple's answer to Microsoft's PowerPoint, gets new transitions with more realistic physics-based movements. Spreadsheet program Numbers gives you more control over fonts and styles and offers an easy-to-use interface for spreadsheet newbies. Lastly, you can add interactive charts to your projects.
In iLife, iPhoto, Apple's photo editing and organizing app, gets a new look on both Mac and iOS that's black and gray instead of silver. Apple also introduced a new service called Print Products. Using iPhoto on the Mac, you can organize photos that you want to make into a book, calendar, greeting card, or single photo prints, and Apple will print the finished product and ship it to you for a fee. On iOS, you can only print individual photos, panoramas, and photo books. We saw some of the photo book examples and think people will probably use the service. The photo books on the Mac start at $29.99 and are $24.99 on iOS.
Video editing app iMovie also got a new design, along with revamped editing features. You can now use the app to share videos directly to your social networks. All of the same editing features you're used to are still there, but on iOS, there's a picture-in-picture feature and on the Mac, there are new special slow-mo controls to edit the 120 frames-per-second videos you've captured on the iPhone 5S. Lastly, there's iMovie Theater, which corrals all your clips into one place and syncs them to your iOS devices, your Mac, or Apple TV via iCloud so you can watch them on the go or on a larger screen.
Lastly, GarageBand got a new look and bumps the number of tracks from eight to 16 on devices up to the iPad 4 and iPhone 5 using iOS 7, but on devices that have the A7 chip (iPhone 5S, iPad Air, or iPad Mini Retina) you can record up to 32 tracks. Apple noted that GarageBand for Mac has been completely rebuilt from the ground up with newly recorded sounds. On iOS, you get all the sounds you had before, but also new features for recording multiple tracks and the ability to use third-party audio apps without leaving GarageBand.
Another new feature called Drummer for the Mac version of GarageBand lets you add virtual backup drummers (a feature already in Apple's pro-level audio software, Logic Pro), each of which have their own names and personas -- there's Kyle, the modern rocker, and disco-inspired Nikki to name a few. There are 15 drummers from four genres in all. What's interesting here is that you can adjust each of the drummers' style by clicking on images of drum pieces -- a click on the hi-hat, for example, will make your drummer use the hi-hat more and it always is in time with the music. Lastly, though GarageBand is free on new devices, you can purchase additional backup instruments in the app.
This news follows Apple's announcement during its iPhone event in September, where the company said that it is, its suite of mobile productivity apps, for free on all new iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches.