Apple's .Mac subscribers can create online photo galleries from iPhoto with a single click and can share the photos and the ability to post images to the gallery with friends or anyone. And thanks to Apple's decision to increase the storage allotment for .Mac accounts from 1GB to 10GB, users of the $99.95 per year service should be able to store a significant number of photos online.
iMovie, the other iLife application that changed significantly, received a redesigned icon to designate its radical new look and feel. Apple's consumer video editing program has been made vastly easier to use through interface and organizational improvements. Apple's "skimming" technology has been put to good use: It makes the time-intensive task of reviewing video clips to see what they contain much quicker.
Apple's close relationship with Google was apparent in several new features: iMovie users can now publish videos directly to YouTube and those using iWeb, Apple's Web page design program, can now embed Google Maps in Web pages they have hosted on .Mac.
"We are working closer with Google," Jobs explained in a Q&A after his presentation. "They make some great backend services that we love to tie into our applications."
Jobs did not mention Microsoft by name but Apple clearly has the software giant in its sights: Apple's new version of iWork productivity suite, which includes upgrades to its Pages word processor and its Keynote presentation program, gained a new spreadsheet application called Numbers.
"It's our spreadsheet and we call it Numbers," said Jobs. "It's the spreadsheet for the rest of us."
While Numbers may lack the bells and whistles of Microsoft Excel, that's clearly the point. The program aspires to be easy-to-use rather than bursting with features. Its most innovative features include the ability to organize multiple spreadsheets on a single page and to control how spreadsheets appear on printed pages.
Microsoft recently said that it had decided to delay the release of Office 2008 for Mac until January. Microsoft's absence from the market works well for iWork.
"It's certainly the right timing for Apple," said Gartenberg. "A lot of people who were looking to purchase an Office upgrade may decide instead to go with iWork."
Jobs said that Apple had sold 1.8 million copies of iWork to date. As a point of comparison, Microsoft has about 450 million Office users worldwide.
Asked about his marketing plan for the new iMacs and applications, Jobs said dryly, "You're going to help us by writing about it. That's why we're all here together."
After the laughter died down and the assembled journalists reassured themselves that they were more than mere marketing, Jobs revealed Apple's sales secret: envy. He said, "Our customer base is really the best sales and marketing force we could ever ask for because they show their friends and their friends get jealous."