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Apple has several software updates it discussed during Macworld

In addition to the usual hardware announcement during Macworld Conference & Expo, Apple also had several announcements regarding its software.

Since its release, Apple iTunes has offered songs for $0.99 -- and has done well, becoming the top online music retailer in the United States -- but will drop DRM for at least 8 million songs.  The price tier will change from a single $0.99 to $0.69, $0.99, or $1.29 per music track.

The Cupertino-based company introduced a new version of iLife, a program designed so users can easily manage photos, make movies and create DVDs.  Two crucial updates to the newest iLife includes the ability to organize and look for photos using face-recognition technology and easy access to share photos through Facebook and Flickr.

iMovie received an update to include a precision editor, animated travel maps, and dynamic themes.  Hand-held movie camera footage will become clearer with the new video stabilization feature that removes the shakiness of users.

The Apple iWork software suite includes Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet and the Keynote presentation tool, and the presentation of the new "Magic Move" technology able to change the position, scale, opacity and range of images, graphics and text.  All 3D charts used in the program also have support for cylinder shapes, new textures, four new 3D build effects and beveled-edge pie charts.

iWork '09 is shipping today for $79 for a single license, $99 for a family pack, or $49 when purchased on a new Mac.

iWork users can also make use of, a new online service -- available for free while it's in beta -- so multiple people can share and collaborate on the same project.  Users can comment, edit and save files they are working on with other iWork users.

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still lots of DRMed songs
By Stacey Melissa on 1/6/2009 5:38:44 PM , Rating: 2
I've always been upgrading my library to the DRM-free Plus versions as they come along. Today, I upgraded the biggest portion yet, but I still have a long ways to go.

I have a total of 723 songs purchased from iTunes. Including the 158 songs I upgraded today, 421 of those are DRM-free. That leaves 302 - 42%! - that are still tethered to iTunes. So Apple still has a long way to go, if my stats are any indication.

Many of these songs are from albums that, for some strange reason, are partially DRMed, and partially not DRMed.

And Apple still hasn't fixed the glitches that sometimes occur during the upgrade process, where the Plus song doesn't replace the DRM song, but only adds a second library entry, and doesn't carry over my ID3 tag customizations. That's quite tedious to fix. Another glitch sometimes occurs when it downloads the edited Plus version of a song that I originally purchased the explicit version of. That one fortunately has only happened a couple times. Still aggravating, though.

RE: still lots of DRMed songs
By Gzus666 on 1/6/2009 5:43:41 PM , Rating: 5
Then stop buying from them? When did we all start accepting the crap companies give us and continue to buy it even with major downfalls? Stop buying from them, they will have to change.

RE: still lots of DRMed songs
By Stacey Melissa on 1/6/2009 6:18:29 PM , Rating: 2
For any new purchases I make, I always check Amazon MP3 first. Usually they have what I want, so I have all but stopped buying new tracks from iTunes. The vast majority of my iTunes store collection is a holdover from years ago when they were pretty much the only decent music download store. Back then, everything had DRM, and only Apple had a decent selection.

That leaves me with the position I'm in today: I can get rid of DRM for 30 cents a track from Apple, or for 89-99 cents a track from Amazon. Both serve up 256-kbit quality files that are compatible with pretty much all the latest players, including my iPod. I'd be stupid to choose Amazon when they're three times as expensive for a functionally identical product.

RE: still lots of DRMed songs
By Josh7289 on 1/6/2009 9:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
Regarding Amazon vs. iTunes Plus. Both are 256 kbps, but Amazon is MP3 and iTunes Plus is AAC.

Which is better quality?

RE: still lots of DRMed songs
By Staples on 1/6/2009 9:46:25 PM , Rating: 2
The quality difference is logrithmic. For low bit rate, AAC is much better but at 256kbs, the difference is not so huge. Still, logically the AAC versions should contain better sound quality.

RE: still lots of DRMed songs
By 9nails on 1/6/2009 7:37:00 PM , Rating: 2
How do you know what has DRM on it and what is DRM free?

Is there some button in iTunes that tells you?

RE: still lots of DRMed songs
By kelmon on 1/7/2009 6:58:04 AM , Rating: 2
You can see this in the Kind field of the track's information (Command/Control+i). An iTunes Plus version of a track will show "Purchased AAC audio file" while the old DRMed versions show "Protected AAC audio file". If you want to see a list of your currently DRMed files then simply create a Smart Playlist that searches for Kind = "Protected AAC audio file".

RE: still lots of DRMed songs
By kelmon on 1/7/2009 7:01:03 AM , Rating: 2
It should be noted that the change applies to music from Sony, Warner and Universal but it does not impact independent record labels. Given this I don't think iTunes itself will be 100% DRM-free until it signs more new contracts.

RE: still lots of DRMed songs
By kelmon on 1/7/2009 7:08:54 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, keep checking back. I upgraded my library last night but checking iTunes again this afternoon gave further tracks and albums available for upgrading.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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