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Macworld 2009: A roundup of keynote highlights

This year's Macworld keynote presentation may not have revealed any groundbreaking news, but there were still some noteworthy announcements
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

Apple has had its first and last keynote at Macworld. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, announced updates to iLife, iWork, the 17-inch MacBook Pro and iTunes.

Chief executive Steve Jobs was absent from this year's Macworld due to health reasons, and after this year Apple will no longer attend the IDG-run event.

iLife '09
In his speech, Schiller outlined the updates to the iLife '09 suite. iPhoto now includes sorting and finding photos by face recognition, a new button for uploading to Facebook and Flickr directly, and 'Places', Apple's software that supports geotagging. Slideshows can now play music and will work on the iPhone.

iMovie has also been updated, including a precision editor that allows the user to see content before and after an edit, and an audio editor that lets you sync those changes with the video. Also included is a drag-and-drop feature that allows the user to layer movies, new themes, animated travel maps, a new project library and video stabilisation.

GarageBand gained a new feature called 'Learn to Play', which can teach a user to play guitar or piano, using celebrities such as John Fogerty, Patrick Stump, Sting, Sarah McLachlan, Ryan Tedder and Norah Jones. There is a built-in store in the software, allowing the user to download new lessons for at a charge.

The iLife '09 upgrade price was stated as £69 for a single licence, £85 for a family pack of five, or free with all new Macs, and will be available in late January.

iWork '09
iWork also received the update treatment, including small tweaks to Keynote and Pages. Keynote adds new slide transitions, text transitions and object transitions (which allows the presenter to do things such as zoom in on a particular object in a slide). Charts can now be moved in new ways, new themes are included and Keynote can now be controlled by iPhone, allowing the user to change slides using CoverFlow.

Pages received a minor update, allowing a full screen mode with no interface present so the user can focus on writing, dynamic outlining, mail merge with Numbers and new templates.

Numbers similarly received a minor update, with more powerful formulas available, and new charts.

Apple also announced iWork.com, which lets users share iWork documents and add comments or notes online. Schiller stressed it was still in beta, and while it would be free to begin with, it would eventually transition to a paid service.

iWork '09 is set at £69, or £85 for a family pack of five. Apple will sell a Mac Box Set with Leopard, iLife and iWork for £149.

17-inch MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro's largest entrant is now compliant with the rest of the family, featuring a unibody construction, glass trackpad, Mini-DisplayPort, a non-removable battery and a choice of glossy or matte screens, the latter featuring a 60 percent greater colour gamut than the last MacBook Pro, and a 700:1 contrast ratio.

It also features new Intel processors, an option for up to 8GB of memory, and both the integrated Nvidia graphics processor and the discrete 9500GT. A 320GB hard drive comes standard, with an SSD option.

While the non-removable battery has caused ire amongst the Apple community, Apple product designer Dan Riccio has said that removable batteries "waste space", with Apple creating custom cell shapes to increase battery life.

The new Macbook Pro will cost £1,949 upwards and will begin shipping at the end of January.

iTunes pricing has changed, with three levels — 59p, 79p and 99p — and will come online in April.

Apple has also made eight million songs DRM free, and by the end of this quarter expects all 10 million songs on iTunes to be DRM free. Users who have DRM-protected music can upgrade their songs to be DRM free; however, this will cost 20p per track. The iTunes store has also been made available via 3G on the iPhone, rather than just through Wi-Fi.

While a number of rumours hit the mark, there was no iPhone Nano, updated Mac Mini or Snow Leopard on display.

Tom Krazit of CNET News.com contributed to this report.

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