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With 2010 around the corner, Apple is poised to begin a new year that should yield lots of great advancements in its consumer software arena. Here’s our predictions for what could be in store for the latest versions of iLife, iWork and iTunes. (These predictions are not substantiated by rumors or other “inside evidence” and are purely speculation based lots of experience with these applications and their histories.)
When the last version of iLife launched, it adopted the moniker “iLife ’09.” Recently however, Apple has modified most of its website to drop the date from the title. Now simply called “iLife,” I wonder if Apple will be quick to release a new “yearly” iteration at the outset of 2010.
Based on previous versions, the next iteration of iLife will require Mac OS X 10.6. By requiring Snow Leopard, this does make iLife an Intel-only release. Though some users will be left behind, significant performance gains should be recognized by taking advantage of 64-bit technology included in Snow Leopard.
Within the apps themselves, I believe we’ll continue to see significant updates. Here’s the roundup.
The addition of Faces and Places to iPhoto ’09 was just the beginning. The next version of iPhoto will support more accurate facial recognition and integration with Twitter. Those who enjoy the photo slideshow themes that were added to the last version will enjoy a larger selection of new themes that will be added in the new version. I also predict that the next version will bring support for bulk renaming of files (similar to how Aperture can do this upon import) and better performance when dealing with larger libraries. I also predict revised or better photo editing controls with additional effects.
I believe the next version of iMovie will boast support for posting videos directly to more Internet services, such as Facebook and Flickr. An expanded set of new themes as well as more advanced title options will be present as well. The user experience of the application will be refined, for those who are still frustrated by the intense switch from iMovie HD to the last two versions.
iDVD will likely see one of the most significant updates that it has ever seen in quite a while. 2010 will mark the beginning of new ways of enjoying media. From the possibility of the first out-of-the-box Blu-ray drives on the Mac to iTunes Extras & LPs to the elusive Apple Tablet, the presentation of digital content remains a key focus for Apple.
The next version of iDVD will help push this agenda forward, allowing users to create Blu-ray discs or optimize their video content into formats like iTunes Extras. Such a dramatic update would likely warrant changing the name of the application, but that’s also within the realm of possibility. iDVD has definitely been late to the party for the past two years, seeing only small maintenance updates. While many speculate that Apple plans to axe DVD creation altogether (foreseeing the death of the digital disc in favor of digital distribution), I believe Apple has been working on a successor application to take advantage of new forms of distribution (a la Blu-ray or iTunes Extras-styled media).
iWeb is one of those apps that is difficult to pack full of compelling new features every year. I predict the next version of iWeb will support more themes and a few more widgets, including a widget that provides a live feed of your Twitter stream on your website.
GarageBand will likely see an expanded music lesson store with more artist lessons and lessons for drums and bass. I also predict Apple will make it easier to share GarageBand creations beyond iTunes and iWeb. Similar to the other apps, I believe we will see support for exporting to other web services such as Facebook or YouTube.
I predict the biggest improvement to the iWork suite will be a tighter integration with the iPhone and iPod touch. On the short side, I see iWork.com coming to the iPhone as an app to allow quick browsing of documents. In an ideal world, Apple will eventually build lightweight mobile versions of its iWork apps to allow users to create and edit Pages, Keynote and Numbers files on the go.
I believe we’ll see an update to the “beta” of iWork.com, including a paid plan if Apple deems the project a huge success, or inclusion with MobileMe if Apple feels the product isn’t strong enough to stand on its own footing.
All three applications will see new templates and a refined Inspector palette. It seems very un-Apple like to mandate users bring up a palette for colors, a separate one for fonts, another for media and yet another master Inspector to control everything else. Additionally, I predict the Media Browser will be updated across all apps to support Faces and Places from iPhoto.
I also predict Pages will provide support for (or perhaps work directly with) third-party applications like bibliographic software such as Endnote or Refworks for academic publications.
iTunes is an interesting application as every version seems to bring about a large number of extra features that many people don’t expect, or at first glance, really need.
I predict the next major version of iTunes, iTunes 10, will bring support for syncing with the mythical iTablet, as well as better syncing support (including over the air syncing of content if on a Wi-Fi network). Furthermore, iTunes 10 should feature better support for managing larger libraries of content and the need to split those libraries across multiple hard drives in a simple but effective manner.
Finally, I’d like to see iWork and iLife dropping in price back to the familiar $49 from years past. In light of economic conditions and Apple’s vocal attempts of providing quality products to more and more users, a price drop seems wise as it would also help generate better market penetration.
Again, many of these predictions are pure speculation and hopes and dreams on my part. What do you think we’ll see in these areas over the coming year?