Apple categorically isn't pitching iWork.com as a Google Docs competitor and will charge for it further down the line. "It's not intended to compete with Google Docs," Kirk Paulsen Senior Director of Applications Product Marketing at Apple told us. "In its current [version] it's simply designed for you to share documents and collaborate."
Paulsen was visiting London to demonstrate the new '09 iterations of iWork and iLife to the UK press and also revealed the question he was asked most about the new software at the recent Macworld event (read on).
Speaking about iWork.com – probably the most interesting development - Paulsen said there was a new "focus on compatibility" with full iWork.com support for PDFs and Word documents. You can download documents from the web in either format – or as a Pages file. You can also now save Word documents straight from the 'Save as' dialog in Pages itself, too.
Apple to charge for iWork.com
But iWork.com will cost. "It will be fee based at some point but now it's free in beta," said Paulsen, who was also at pains to point out that users don't require a a MobileMe account to use the service. "There's been some miscommunication there, you just need an Apple ID."
The suites have over 90 enhancements, many of which were detailed at Macworld earlier in the month. Amusingly one of the themes we spotted in Keynote was 'Venetian.' Considering Apple is pulling out of Macworld next year and CES' keynotes are always at The Venetian, Las Vegas, could Apple be telling us something?
Perhaps not. The new Theme Chooser looks good though, and we liked the Magic Move transitions. "We really believe this is the most powerful presentation software on the planet," said Paulsen, somewhat obviously.
GarageBand celeb tutorials - actually good
Elsewhere, we surprised ourselves by being impressed by GarageBand's celebrity tutorials. While these may seem superfluous, they're done Apple-style, so you really can use them properly and they look the part. If you want to learn a few bars properly, you can loop it. If you want to turn off Sting's vocal (er…) you can do that too.
We also loved iMovie's stabilisation features. While a lot of packages now do this, iMovie's implementation is impressive – even if it may need to be left overnight to process and correct the video.
iLife's facial recognition feature (dubbed 'Faces') is clever and the face recognition links up nicely with tagging in Facebook – it will even retro-tag pics on your Mac should you wish it to. Paulsen revealed, somewhat amusingly, that the number one question he was asked at Macworld was whether Faces would recognise the faces of dogs. It won't, but you can add them manually.