Apple Offers Free iWork & iLife Apps, But in-App Purchase Fees Loom

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As part of an emerging software giveaway strategy, Apple this week unveiled new iWork office suite apps and iLife creativity apps which are available free of charge to owners of new iOS 7 and Mac OS X Mavericks devices.

Apple iPhoto“Today we’re revolutionizing pricing,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior VP of software engineering, during a press event on Tuesday where Apple also announced the iPad Air, the iPad Mini with Retina Display,; new Mac Pro and MacBook Pro hardware; and free upgrades to OS X Mavericks for users of Macs running OS  Mountain Lion, Lion, or Snow Leopard.

Now available as free downloads for owners of new iOS 7 devices, the revamped editions of the three iOS iWork apps — the Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet, and Keynote presentation apps — are otherwise priced at $10 each.

The latest version of GarageBand is a free download for any owner of an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or Mac. The redesigned iOS editions of the other two iLife apps — iPhoto and iMovie — are regularly priced at $5 apiece. All six apps, though, require iOS 7 to be on board.

Each of the six new 64-bit apps in iWork 11 and iLife 11 sports a new user interface (UI), along with multiple new features and integration with iCloud.

Apple Demos New Features

In demos at the press event, Eddie Cue, Apple’s senior VP of Internet Software and Services, showed off some of the new features. GarageBand is “the most popular music creation app” in history, he contended.

Apple Garage BandIn the new GarageBand 2.0, users can create songs with up to 32 tracks on devices using the A7 chip and up to 16 tracks on other iOS devices. Support is included for Touch Instruments, audio recordings, and loops.

Other new features include AirDrop support, the ability to record from compatible third-party music apps using Inter-App Audio, and support for dragging and dropping audio recordings to create Sampler instruments.

In iPhoto 2.0, “browsing your photos has never been faster,” according to Cue. “Photo book has been hugely popular. Now we’re bringing it to iOS,” he noted.

Also new is the the ability to share photos directly from iPhoto using Messages and to share photos, photo books, web journals and slideshows to other iOS 7 devices through AirDrop.

Other new features include custom slideshows that can be interactively controlled during playback with touch gestures; advanced search controls for filtering photo views by Tags, Flags, and Favorites, for example; new photo effects such as Drama and Camera Filters; and display of panoramic photos as wide-format “pano” thumbnails in grid views.

Apple PagesIn iMovie 2.0 for iOS, you can produce split screen and picture-in-picture effects and audio edits just by tapping the screen. Through iMove Theatre, you can use iCloud to sync movies, clips and trailers for viewing across all Apple devices, including Apple TV.

In iWork 11, Apple has introduced a new unified file format, for document sharing and collaboration across iOS devices and Macs. Through integration with iCloud, the docs can also be shared with Windows PC users.

Competing Apps: Some Are Free, But Others Aren’t

Pricing strategies of Appe’s rivals in the office suite range all over the map. For its part, Microsoft produces a mobile edition of Office for iOS and Android — dubbed “Office Mobile” — for both iOS and Android. However, it’s only available with a $100-plus-per-year subscription to Office 365.

Yet new Microsoft RT Surface tablets now ship with Microsoft Office free of charge.

Google apps like Docs for word processing and Drive for storage and file syncing are available across iOS and other platforms for free.

Quickoffice, another popular alternative, is also a free download from Apple’s App store.

Yet Documents to Go Standard for iOS is priced at $9.99, and Documents to Go Premium at a heftier $16.99.

Watch Out for Those in-App Charges!

On the Mac side, the new iWork 11 apps are regularly priced at $20 each, while iMovie and iPhoto are ordinarily priced at $15 apiece.

Meanwhile, back on September 18, Apple announced that iWork would be free of charge on all new iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches.

Apple KeynoteOn its web site, Apple now says that anyone purchasing a new iOS device after September 18 or a new Mac after October 1 is eligible for free downloads of the new iWork and iLife apps.

Apple, however, does stand to earn revenues through in-app purchases from the new apps. Also this week, Apple introduced a new service called Print Products, for hard copy printouts of photo books. Pricing for a printed photo book begins at $29.99.

Apple also rolled out plans to charge fees for in-app purchases of “additional instruments and sounds” for GarageBand.



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