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Apple shines at Macworld, even with MVP Jobs benched

By Andrew Heining / January 6, 2009

This year's Macworld keynote had the potential to be a real stinker – what with über-CEO Steve Jobs sitting things out for health reasons and the company's announcement that this was the last time it would attend the annual trade show. But even with Jobs out, the Cupertino-based company presented software updates and a new laptop that earned squeals from fanboys.

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The biggest announcement in the presentation by Apple's Phil Schiller was that the company's iTunes music store would be dropping digital rights management (DRM) from all the songs it sells. Boy Genius Report had one of the first rundowns of the changes.

Also significant on the music side of things is a change in the company's once-simple song pricing scheme. Instead of a flat $.99 fee per song, some older, "bargain bin" songs may now be scooped up for $.69, while other, more in-demand titles will increase to $1.29. The move is a departure from Mr. Jobs' conviction that the iTunes store's success hinged on a simple pricing model.

Finally, iPhone owners can now download songs over a 3G connection – rather than being limited to downloading music when connected to a Wi-Fi network. Gizmodo has a good overview.

iLife '09

First, Apple updated iPhoto, its photo organization and editing software. Highlights include facial recognition technology for organizing shots and the ability to synchronize with popular sites such as Flickr and Facebook. Also, they unveiled support for geotagging – the ability to sort and identify photos with GPS information from where the pictures were taken.

Then came a revision to the love-it-or-hate-it iMovie video editing program. The Unofficial Apple Weblog has this to say:

iMovie '09 includes a few new tricks, like animated travel maps (think "Indiana Jones") and auto stabilization for shaky video. More impressive features include drag-and-drop editing, which lets you drop a clip between others. The skimming that was introduced in iMovie '08 is still intact, while "Precision Editing" is new. Now you can move audio from one clip onto another. Not exactly the "extract audio" option from iMovie 06, but still slick. They've also added some cute effects like cartoon, x-ray, and aged film as well as sweet dynamic themes.

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