Friday, August 10, 2007

iHeart iWork

Earlier this week, Apple introduced newly redesigned iMacs. They sport an uncanny resemblance to the recently released and highly coveted iPhones. Funny how you don't see so many stories these days about the imminent demise of Apple. You did see wide coverage of the madness surrounding the iPhone's release. Did you see those lines? You'd think The Beatles were reuniting and going on tour.

But I digress. The other big news of the day was the new iLife 08 suite. Good thing I finally bought iLife 06 two weeks ago! So all-new versions of iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and GarageBand are available to go along with your always-free iTunes.

The smaller news was the introduction of iWork 08. The iWork suite of productivity tools began in 2003 with the release of Keynote 1.0. This was essentially the presentation software that Apple developed for use by Steve Jobs. He just couldn't bring himself to use PowerPoint. Who can blame him?

I had resisted PowerPoint Fever, even as it swept through California during the heady days of the Digital High School grant. Back then (late '90s/early '00s), many gazed upon PowerPoint as The Savior of Education. I sat through PowerPoint after PowerPoint in preparation of my school's turn at the DHS trough and realized that I had never seen a PPT that was effective. Most were complete snoozers!

When Apple released Keynote 1.0, I decided it must be possible (though not easy) to create an effective presentation. So I bought the program for $99 and started my attempts. I made a ton of lousy presos while honing my skills, and I still have much to learn. But it was the first step.

After a long and increasingly worrisome silence, Apple released iWork 05: a bundling of Keynote 2.0 and Pages 1.0. Now only $79. I didn't really need Pages, Apple's word-processing software, but I bought the package to get the newly updated Keynote. The following year saw iWork 06 with Keynote 3.0 and Pages 2.0. Keynote got better as my preso skills sharpened.

But MacWorld 08 came and went with no iWork 08. Steve Jobs' Keynote was all about iPhone. It seemed that there would be no new iLife or iWork until the new Mac OS X (10.5 "Leopard") was released. And that moment kept drifting back. Hopes for June faded into hopes for October. (My desire to try burning Keynote presos onto DVDs using iDVD 6 necessitated my purchase of iLife 06.)

Anyway, iWork 08 is out and Keynote 08 is now available. I don't have it yet, but I'm sure I'll have it soon. It's loaded with new features that I'll be able to use right away. Oh, and the oft-rumored Apple spreadsheet software, Numbers, is included. So now there are three apps: Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. Kinda like PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. Office, except designed by Apple.

Keynote 08 will set PowerPoint even further behind in the "my preso is cooler than yours" department. If you want elegant, good-looking presentations, get off the PowerPoint treadmill. It's not going anywhere. Jump on board with Keynote. PowerPointers will have a brief period of adjustment. But once you start creating gorgeous, captivating presos with Keynote, you won't look back.

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