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  1-24-03 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.


iLife, Therefore I Am


By Bob LeVitus

It’s Apple software that really distinguishes Macs from PCs, and Apple announced a bunch of it at Macworld Expo earlier this month.

First there’s Safari, Apple’s new Web browser. The Apple hype machine crows that: “it’s the fastest and easiest to use web browser ever created for the Mac,” “its highly-tuned rendering engine loads pages over three times faster than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for the Mac,” and “it runs Javascript over twice as fast.” Steve Jobs modestly predicts that, “many will feel it is the best browser ever created.”

It would make me sick if it weren’t true, or mostly so. Safari is wicked fast, with a clean, uncluttered interface and a feature I love—a special field in its toolbar that lets you search the Web via Google without going to the Google Web page first!

I’ve been using Safari for several weeks and even though it’s still in beta, it has become my browser-of-choice. It is much faster than the others and it may very well be the best browser ever created. Not bad for a program that’s not even done yet. Join more than one million other Mac users and download the beta. It’s at

Moving right along, I’ve seen a lot of Steve Jobs keynote performances at various Macworld Expos and I’ve always been impressed by the stuff Steve shows on the big screens. I always figured he had a room full of graphic artists, QuickTime engineers, and video gurus working ‘round the clock, but I was way wrong.

It turns out that Jobs has been using the ever-so-appropriately named Keynote, Apple’s just-released $99 presentation program. Keynote is reminiscent of PowerPoint, but with that slick Apple interface. And since it takes advantage of cool OS X technologies like Quartz, QuickTime, and OpenGL, it has superb typography, Photoshop-like image resizing, and high-quality transitions. Plus, it includes 12 Apple-designed themes, and just like the themes you get with iDVD, the Keynote themes are just gorgeous.

I got my copy on Tuesday (as did everyone who attended the keynote—thanks, Steve!), so of course I went back to my hotel that night and created a slide show for the “Dr. Mac’s 2002 Shareware, Freeware, and Otherware Awards,” I was hosting on Thursday. I spent less than 90 minutes on it and, ignoring my own advice, I didn’t even glance at the manual.

It came out great. And since Keynote allowed me to export it as a QuickTime movie, you can see it for yourself at

Two other software announcements capped off Jobs keynote: Final Cut Express, a new and less expensive program for editing video. Based on Apple’s award-winning Final Cut Pro software ($999), Express leaves out some of the pro features most people would never use and costs just $299.

The last software announcement concerns something old—iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, and iDVD—and something new—the name you call them. Forget about “iApps,” or “the Digital Hub.” From here on out they’re to be addressed as “iLife.”

Steve Jobs says, “iLife does for our digital lifestyle what Microsoft Office did for office productivity. Apple is far ahead of its PC competitors in offering the best-in-class applications for digital music, photography, moviemaking and DVD creation, and now they all work together seamlessly.”

You can say that again.

The iLife applications are free with new Macs. Beginning on January 24, (tomorrow), iPhoto 2 and iMovie 3 will be available for free download at (iTunes 3 is already available for free download). The iLife retail package, with all four applications, will be $49.

Alas, iDVD 3 still requires an internal Apple SuperDrive.

Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to [email protected].

Copyright © 2004 Bob LeVitus



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