At Tuesday's Macworld keynote speech, Apple announced a handful of upgrades to existing software. Of the changes, one of the biggest is the budding online integration found inside two of its software suites: iLife and iWork. The "2009" versions of both of these software packages show a more balanced approach by Apple in integrating third-party services alongside pushing users toward its own online efforts.
In the case of iWork, is a tight integration with a brand new online component called iWork.com. The site, which launches later this month in conjunction with the software release, lets users upload files for sharing with others--up to 1GB. When using any of the three applications included in the iWork suite users are able to export whatever they're working on right from a link on the top of the screen. Once the item has been uploaded it can be shared with other users who can download it in whatever file formats you specify, or leave little sticky-note comments.
This is far from online word processing solutions offered by Google, Zoho, Thinkfree, and others, but continues in the direction of 2007's photo galleries and Web e-mail applications that were offered as a part of Apple's MobileMe service. Notably missing from this new online service is a way to actually edit the document right in your browser, and instead requires downloading a local copy then re-uploading.
Additionally iLife's iWeb application has been updated with both Facebook and FTP integration. Now, whenever you make changes to your site you can have it send out a notification to your Facebook news feed, letting your friends see that you've made an update. And with the FTP integration there's no more messing about with third-party FTP applications to update changes you've made to an iWeb-created page. You can now simply plug-in your server information and have it sync up.
Apple's Macworld updates
Here's a basic rundown of everything Apple announced Tuesday. For more details, read our summary here.
DRM-free and cheaper songs
New 8-hour battery
Photo geotagging and music lessons
Online syncing, Keynote Remote
This is going to solve a lot of headaches for people who wanted to use the WYSIWYG site creation software without ponying up to pay Apple to host it for them.
Another big change is in iPhoto, which now offers built-in export support for both Facebook and Flickr--two of the most popular photo-sharing sites on the Web. Exporting to both of these services was previously possible with third-party plug-ins, however Apple's new solution works right out of the box. Any changes you make to uploaded photos within the software will be automatically sent back to these places. This means that you can replace a previously uploaded photo without manually having to visit the site and re-upload.
Still missing from both of these suites is a true online companion. While iWork.com offers a free (for now) way to share big files outside of e-mail, and without the need for a subscription to Apple's MobileMe service, you still have to do all the work on your computer--and your computer only. With the Facebook and Flickr integration you can't pull down photos you've previously uploaded for editing on the software's new editing tools. I'm also sad to see that despite the promising integration with Google Maps in iWeb last year, there's still not a way to import and export from Google Docs and Spreadsheets in Pages and Numbers respectively.
Maybe next year.