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Apple PredictionsWe use our brains to predict what the future has in store for Apple.

iWork '12 and iLife '12

iWork

Apple shared a beta of the next version of iWork with the press during their private keynotes of Mountain Lion. The one big feature that was revealed was true iCloud integration. Apple did this demonstration back in early February of 2012. It is clear from this demonstration that iWork will integrate with iCloud and sharing files between your iPad, iPhone and Mac will be a simple thing. Unifying iOS and OS X is something Apple is working heavily towards this year. Mountain Lion is a prime example of this. Any changes that occur for the Mac version of iWork will be added to serve this aim. It is hard to predict what Apple will add to iWork besides iCloud support.

One thing that is clear is the release date. Apple told the press that the new iWork will come out when Mountain Lion is released. Tim Cook has stated that Mountain Lion is due out in late summer, so I’d expect the same to be true for iWork ’12. The software will most likely be demoed at WWDC 2012.

The apps will be priced the same as previous versions and available through the Mac App Store. Apple will not include any kind of special upgrade pricing for iWork. Apple will do one of two things. Existing customers will either get a free update to the new iWork or customers will have to buy a completely new version. Historically speaking there are no discounts for a user upgrading from one version of iWork to another. Apple would have to dramatically change the App Store at WWDC 2012 for any kind of upgrade pricing to happen. I fall into the camp of people that believe iWork ’12 will be a free update to all Mac App Store customers.

iLife

Moving onto iLife things get a bit more exciting. Apple recently released iPhoto for iOS. The new iPhoto for iOS includes tons of elements and features that aren’t in the Mac version. Apple can’t like this disparity and will likely unify the feature set in iLife ’12.

iPhoto
So what features will make their way to iPhoto for the Mac? An obvious change is that MobileMe Galleries will be replaced by iCloud empowered Photo Journals. The powerful brushes and editing tools available in the iOS version of iPhoto will also make their way onto the Mac. The table like interface used to compare photos will also be carried over to the Mac. The final iOS feature expected to hit the Mac is photo beaming. These are all logical features that fit for the Mac.

The final feature to be included in the new iPhoto is more of a wish. My wish is that Apple will somehow unify photo libraries by using iCloud. Currently Photo Stream is a makeshift way to share photos between devices, but it is not a real solution for working with edited images and albums. My wish is that Apple adds a way to use iCloud for our photo libraries.

Imagine a future where you can sync albums and events to iCloud. These synced events and albums will retain metadata and edit histories. Apple could also provide an option to sync entire iPhoto libraries to iCloud. Depending on how many photos you have this will either be a free or a paid option.

The complexity of managing a photo library on the Mac and syncing edits from the iPhone is too complex. Having a cloud library fixes this problem. Adobe and many others offer methods of doing this and it is time for Apple to simplify photo storage. Apple’s iTunes Match shows that Apple understands the concept of having a cloud library that shares metadata and information between devices. It is time for Apple to unify our photo libraries.

This last prediction is more of a wish. It is really hard to say if Apple has the infrastructure for this quite yet. I want for this to be true, but only time will tell if Apple is ready.

iMovie
It is my belief that Apple will get inspiration from Final Cut Pro X for the next iMovie update. The iOS and OS X version of iMovie already share a ton of features. Final Cut Pro X shares a similar interface to iMovie and I’d imagine a similar code-base.

The biggest feature that I think Apple would like to include in iMovie is multi-cam support, which also includes synchronizing video. Consumers these days have multiple cameras. Many users have an iPhone, an iPad, a Go Pro or some other camera.

The keynote pitch for multi-cam is simple. Apple shows a family shooting video of a wedding or vacation. A few minutes later Randy Ubillos demos how easy it is to sync the videos up and create a slick multi-cam edit. He then goes on to talk about unique uses for multi-cam.

To recap: consumers have multiple cameras, multi-cam is easy to use, it is easily shown off on stage, and it encourages users to buy more and more iPhones and iPads. It is an amazing feature in Final Cut Pro X that just screams to be added to iMovie.

Besides multi-cam I’d wager the audio tools get a big revamp in iLife ’12. Apple is currently working on revamping audio editing in Final Cut and it would make sense to deliver more powerful tools to iMovie users as well. Apple historically doesn’t care about devaluing pro software by adding similar features into their consumer software. The last update to GarageBand borrowed heavily from Logic Pro and it wasn’t a problem for Logic customers or Apple.

GarageBand
GarageBand for iOS is a unique app that does things a bit differently from the Mac version. Apple will do what it can to unify the two apps.

Playing with instruments is what sells GarageBand for iOS. My prediction is that Apple will build instruments designed for the keyboard and trackpad. The current Mac app already has a few instruments, but the experience is subpar compared to iOS. Apple has to come up with a unique interface to match the experience we have grown to love on the iPad. The keyboard and trackpad are very different tools. Apple has to rethink what it means to play piano or guitar on a Mac.

Along with instruments being added are Jam Sessions. GarageBand for Mac will communicate with the iOS version over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, just like its done on the iOS. The final change to the Mac will be its sharing options. Currently you can share songs to iWeb, iDVD, and iTunes. The iOS version shares songs to Facebook, YouTube, and SoundCloud. I’d imagine iDVD and iWeb support get dropped for things like Facebook, YouTube, and SoundCloud. Apple will also build in support for iCloud.

Release Date and Pricing
I’m predicting that iLife ’12 is demoed at either WWDC 2012 or a special event sometime this fall. My best guess is that iLife ’12 gets released a few months after Mountain Lion is released. Apple could surprise us all with a unified release of Mountain Lion, iWork and iLife.

Apple has the same pricing options as they do with iWork. The company will either choose free upgrades for Mac App Store customers or a brand new app that everyone needs to buy again. I sit in the camp that Apple will release this as a free update to existing customers, but they could easily go the other way if they want to make some extra cash.

Conclusion

I fully expect Apple to update both iWork and iLife this year. The suites haven’t been updated in several years. The last major update to iWork shipped out in January of 2009 and the last major update to iLife in October of 2010. Traditionally Apple doesn’t let either suite go more than 2 years without an update. The release of Mountain Lion will only push the iLife and iWork teams to work harder to get a new version out the door.