Apple sweetens suite of apps [Boston Herald]
(Boston Herald (MA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 28--Apple's newly upgraded suite of productivity and lifestyle apps makes the iPad feel much more like a full-fledged computer. Many consumers can now grab one of those keyboard accessories for the iPad and forget about their laptop.
Simply put: It's a game-changer.
Last week Apple released upgraded versions of its six lifestyle and productivity apps -- iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand, Keynote, Pages and Numbers. Apple's photo and movie editing apps have long given it a leg up on Microsoft, Google and Amazon, but now they're even better, and the productivity apps are a serious blow to the competition.
Two of the lifestyle apps, iMovie and iPhoto, are $4.99 for iOS 7 users and free with a new device. The third, GarageBand -- which lets you compose music and plunk around on a virtual keyboard, set of drums or guitar -- is now totally free. My favorite is iMovie. It doesn't require the remotest bit of creativity or artistic prowess to make a respectable film. Particularly fun are the templates for trailers. Just pick one of the pre-made templates and add your own video clips and text. It took me 20 minutes to make a funny and poignant trailer documenting my son's first six months.
Each of Apple's productivity apps -- Pages (a word processor), Numbers (a spreadsheet) and Keynote (for presentations) -- follows a similar formula, with Apple having done much of the work for you. Pre-designed themes and templates abound, each one sleeker than the next. Buttons are unobtrusive and features are intuitive. Basically, it's simpler than ever to make things prettier than ever. Each is $9.99 for existing iOS 7 users, and free for those who purchase a new iPad, iPhone or fifth-generation iPad touch.
The move to make these apps free with the purchase of a new Apple device was a clear assault on Google and Microsoft, who have been luring consumers with free stuff, whether it's free music through the Xbox mobile app, free storage with SkyDrive or Google Docs.
For consumers considering the Apple ecosystem, these newly updated apps may be reason enough to take the plunge. Though the productivity apps aren't going to replace Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint for heavy users, they're just fine for a small business owner or someone who sends out a weekly newsletter or writes the occasional resume, note or essay.
For that reason, the upcoming iPad Air, which hits stores Friday, could be the hottest selling device this holiday season.
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