JANUARY 07, 2003
Analysis: After the Keynote
Apple's realities versus expectations
by David Nagel
Page 2 of 3

The software
And then there's the software. Here's where I was a bit surprised. Although Macworld isn't a show focused tremendously on the professional creative market, I had expected to hear about new versions of Shake and Final Cut Pro, or maybe even DVD Studio Pro, but it looks like these announcements are on hold as well.[an error occurred while processing this directive]But this isn't to say that we've walked away from this Macworld with an empty software basket. Apple did introduce Final Cut Express, a stripped-down version of its professional non-linear editing system that should excite anybody who works in the DV format and doesn't need the overhead or cost of Final Cut Pro. I, of course, have not yet seen this software, but Apple says it has the same interface and workflow as Final Cut Pro and much of the functionality. It's designed specifically for working in DV, and work done in FCE can be opened up in FCP. It even includes some software-only real-time effects for those on G4s fast enough to handle them. And, of course, it comes at a very convenient time and coincidental price point ($299), as rumors abound about Adobe dropping Premiere from the Mac marketplace altogether.

For you presentation professionals out there, there's also Apple's new Keynote application, a $99 application designed to compete with Microsoft PowerPoint. includes slideshow management functionality; anti-aliased text; alignment guides; and full alpha-channel graphics support (with image transformations and effects, such as opacity control). It also supports major graphics formats, including Photoshop files with layers. It can build tables and charts and includes a stock image library and video-style transitions. It includes customizable themes, as in iDVD. And it can import and export PowerPoint files and export PDF and QuickTime. Sounds great. Can't wait to see it in action for myself.

Then there are the consumer applications, one of which was a total surprise and something I haven't bothered to speculate about since it stopped being relevant: an Apple-branded Web browser. Dubbed Safari, this one is interesting but also disappointing in its current form. Sure, it reads Web pages all right. I mean, I could render a Web page with colored pencils faster than Internet Explorer, so the speed boost Safari represents is certainly welcome. But the one area in which the Mac really needs help in terms of Web browsing is in Java--and the even more prevalent faux Java perpetrated by Microsoft in its attempt to shut open standards off the Web--and Safari just doesn't solve it yet. (In fact, in the few minutes I've had with Safari, I've had to force quit it when trying to deal with both Java and JavaScript.) But who knows what the future holds in the post-beta period? What I know is that right now, Netscape 7 does the best job with Java on Mac OS X, and nothing else comes close. On the plus side, Safari is the prettiest browser on the market. That's something.

The other consumer applications in Apple's lineup will also receive significant updates, including iMovie 3, iPhoto 2 and iDVD 3. Unfortunately, the one I care about the most--and the one creative professionals ought to care about the most--will not be available as a free download. I refer, of course, to iDVD. Fortunately, you will be able to buy a boxed set of these new applications under the "iLife" monicker for $49, so those of you who want iDVD 3 won't be completely out of it. iMovie 3 continues to be an application worth very little mention in a publication for professionals. And iPhoto 2, while handy for some professional purposes, is still primarily a consumer gadget. I won't get into either one here.



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