New Apple iWork

Apple had a non-MacWorld event yesterday. First, new iMacs. They look pretty cool, but I’m not really in the market for an iMac, so I’m going to ignore those. Bummer about the small bump to the Minis, because I did just buy one of those for my wife. Oops.

New iLife. The iLife app I used most is iPhoto, and I’m happy to see any kind of streamlining of the publishing photos to the Web. iPhoto 5 had a nice interface for publishing photos to the Web, but the iPhoto 6 process, going through iWeb, is less direct and kind of annoying. Hopefully the new Web Galleries in iPhoto 7 will be better. I don’t use iMovie much (partly because I’ve never liked it much), but the new “view anywhere” features do have some appeal. I just don’t take many movies. Overall, though, seems like reasonable incremental improvement.

No, the real bombshell for me is the new iWork. I’ve been waiting for a reasonable alternative to Excel for ages and ages. (Mariner Calc just doesn’t cut it, see my recent blog post on that.) So now there’s Numbers, an Apple spreadsheet which reads and writes Excel files. I just hope that it has some reasonable statistical functions and it’d really really nice if it did a good job of line and bar graphs with error bars. I can’t wait to try Numbers out and see what it can really do. Of course, the bar’s not really high.

The other thing I’m excited about is the new version of Pages. Pages has some good features, but has had the worst formatting UI for things like fonts. And, of course, I work with people who use Word and really need the “track changes” capability. The new Pages appears to now have addressed both of those issues. Excellent! (Of course, in the last couple weeks I was pretty happy to see the new Nisus Writer Pro, too, so we’ll see which way I ultimately go.)

None of the new stuff in Keynote looks especially compelling to me, but I liked Keynote already (it already blew away PowerPoint even without the new stuff).

So, the winner today, for me, is the new iWork—I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on it.