This past January, at Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Steve Jobs introduced iLife. More a concept than a single piece of software, iLife integrates four of what Apple calls its “digital lifestyle” applications: iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes, and iDVD. Mac OS X users can download three of the four applications for free and they’ll all work together seamlessly. iDVD is available pre-installed on Macintosh models with DVD-burning SuperDrives. Users can now use music from their iTunes library in their iMovies, iPhoto images are available within iMovie, and iMovie media can be added from within iDVD; you get the idea. As Jobs said in the press release, “iLife does for our digital lifestyle what Microsoft Office did for office productivity – they all work together.”
The iLife concept works very well, but now Apple needs to do something for this former Microsoft Entourage user. In Entourage, Microsoft’s Personal Information Manager (PIM) for the Mac, email, calendars, and addresses all are available within one application. Currently, in Mac OS X, users have Mail for email, Address Book for addresses, and iCal for calendars, but all are independent applications. There is some minor integration; clicking Address while composing a message in Mail brings up your addresses without having to launch the Address Book application, but to do real editing of the addresses, users have to switch to the Address Book application itself.
After using iLife, this switching from application to application to work with email, calendars, and addresses becomes somewhat painful.
Now, the way I run Mac OS X, with all commonly used applications always running, Command-Tabbing through the dock to access each in the foreground, you’d think that would be easy enough. But, I’d really like to have my iCal calendars immediately accessible while still in the Mail application.
Apple would do well by its users to create “iPIM,” integrating iCal, Mail and Address Book (and perhaps iChat) in much the same way they’ve done with iLife. I’d really like to be able to edit my Address Book and my iCal calendars in Mail, and send email while checking out my iCal calendar.
I don’t know; maybe I’m not doing things right or I’ve been spoiled by my previous Entourage use and I’m brain-locked into the PIM concept? Am I wrong to wish Apple would meld iCal, Mail, Address Book, and maybe even iChat into something integrated like iLife?
SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.