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Opinion: Apple launches DRM-free iTunes, a longer life MacBook? and not much else

Macworld roundup

It’s been a relatively low-key Macworld so far, the show lacking any of the big announcements that have defined previous shows – compounded with CEO Steve Jobs’ first absence from the keynote speech in a decade.

It will be the last Macworld Apple itself will appear at, leading many to call into the question the long term viability of the show that does, after all, concern itself with Apple products.

Wild rumours regarding what exciting new alien technology would be unveiled circulated the internet prior to the show, with a vigour matched only by the recent mass speculation surrounding Job’s health, which he himself attempted to quash yesterday.

Probably the biggest news was the fact that Apple will now be selling DRM free music through iTunes, thanks to new agreements with the music industry. However it also looks like a good deal of the songs available will be hiked up in price at the same time, which won’t please many people.

The other big-ish news was the launch of a new 17-inch MacBook Pro, which comes with an extended battery life. The new model represents three times the lifespan of previous models, however as the sole hardware announcement of the show, fans expecting exhilarating new products will be a little disappointed with, what is in effect, an incremental upgrade on a single product line.

Elsewhere, Apple announced the new features included in iLife ’09 – its software range that includes a number of lifestyle-type programs. iPhoto now allows users to upload images and attribute them to the map locations they were taken, while GarageBand now comes with a number of guitar and piano lessons from artists, ranging from the negligibly famous to Sting. A few minor updates were also included in iMovie ’09.

Finally it was revealed iWork ’09 will now come loaded with a few new business orientated features, but again only representing slight improvements.

Overall, anything but the staunchest Apple fans will likely be a little under-whelmed by the announcements, but since Apple is pulling out of the show anyway it seems plausible it could be holding launches back for another time or place.

You can read about the announcements in full on the Apple press site.

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