What’s not to like about iLife? You get it with every new Mac. The whole package is a mere $79. That’s a bargain.
All the components of the iLife suite integrate and work wonderfully with each other. Do we need that much integration?
We do if you don’t mind paying that good old “Apple Tax” year after year.
I’ll buy into the premise that the Mac makes for a good digital hub. Everything connects well, fits well, syncs well, works well together. What’s not to like?
iLife and .Mac extend those well fitting components to a new level of integration. Of course, it’s an integration that costs money, but it helps to differentiate the Mac from Windows.
Integration? Yes. We can integrate our portable music playing iPods with the Mac, including iMovie, iTunes, GarageBand, and iPhoto.
We can also integrate our multi-tasking iPhones with the Mac, including iMovie, iTunes, GarageBand, iWeb, and iPhoto. See a trend developing here?
We can also integrate our AppleTV with the Mac, which, with iLife’s suite of tasty applications, further differentiates the Mac from a Windows PC.
If there’s a key word to describe what iLife ‘08 really does, let me use the word “integration” in and through the digital hub, represented by the Mac, and connected to other Apple products.
It still does digital photograph management and manipulation, but has more capability that previous versions.
You can organize photos by Events, of course, but there’s new editing tools that help manipulate many photos at one time.
The best new feature, from my one day of experience, is the .Mac Web Gallery. Your digital photos can be uploaded and organized to your .Mac account easier than ever, and they look great; stunning, actually.
See the trend? iPhoto to iMovie to iDVD to iPhone to iPod to .Mac. That’s a lot of parts to connect.
There’s a bucket of new features in iPhoto including more book styles, more calendars, and more printing options.
Ron seems enamored with iMovie ‘08 in his review, so I’ll give you my quick consideration. iMovie alone is worth more than the cost of iLife if you have a movie camera.
If there’s one iLife application that I love to use, it’s GarageBand, and now I love it more (iWeb has been my least favorite iLife app).
I work with a number of businesses who want to record podcasts for intra-company distribution. All it takes is a decent microphone and appropriate cable, a Mac notebook, and GarageBand, and you’re a decent quality audio production house.
The new GarageBand is evolutionary, and has some extra unnecessary glitz, but is a commendable upgrade.
For example, the Multi-Take Recording feature is handy, and perfect for my needs, which often involve business people not used to being recorded, thereby needing multiple takes. Duh.
Automation of effects and instruments was once the domain of more expensive audio production applications such as Logic and SoundTrack Pro, but now shows up in GarageBand. This kind of extra touch makes it easy to enhance audio without tedium.
Recording live audio in non-sound proofed rooms creates plenty of background noise, which requires GarageBand’s vocal enhancements, made even better by Visual EQ. If you know what equalization is, you’ll love the click and drag capability.
The weakest area, from my perspective, is Magic GarageBand. I watched Steve Jobs’ video presentation and was pretty much lost as the value of Magic.
Somehow or another you can set up a group using GarageBand’s instruments, then play along in a graphic spotlight. Maybe I don’t like that feature because I can’t play an instrument.
My other is from Puerto Rico and plays six different instruments. My father is from Scotland and all they know how to play is the bagpipe which always sounds like it’s being played badly. Somehow I don’t think GarageBand will improve on that.
Finally, iWeb has a few things going for it, the greatest of which is integration with other components of iLife and .Mac.
At the basic level, iWeb lets you create a multimedia web site for export to your .Mac web site. Yes, you can export your iWeb site to another server location other than .Mac, but bear with me for the sake of the whole “integration” theme of this article.
Assume that you have .Mac and like integration and want to build a web site with bells and whistles. Hey, .Mac costs another $100 every year, so you have to use it, right?
Widgets can be pulled from other sites and dropped right into your iWeb site. Cool for things such as Google Maps so you can tell thieves how to get to your house to steal all the stuff you’re showing them in your Web Gallery photos.
News headlines and stock tickers show up in the Widget category and those can be dropped into your web site, too. Please ask yourself, “Why do I want to do that?” I don’t have a good answer.
Actually, iWeb and .Mac are more integrated that you might think. iWeb allows you to create a web site and integrate Google AdSense context sensitive ads. If you get enough visitors to your site it might help defray the cost of .Mac. Or not.
I do like the integration of photos and movies from iPhoto and iMovie, respectively. The Web Gallery components of .Mac is especially attractive.
Apple included a couple dozen themes for iWeb which means you can change the look and feel of your site with just a click or two.
There’s not as much that’s new in iDVD for iLife ‘08. In fact, Steve Jobs seemed to indicate that DVDs are yesterday’s technology and expected his Apple product buying minions to upload their movies to the Web Gallery on .Mac instead of burning DVDs.
There’s more themes, more menu customization options, and an easy way to integrate photos and videos. iDVD ‘08 also comes with a Pro Quality Encoding option to increase quality to match the space on a DVD. I like the built-in capacity meter.
I’ll skip my view of iMovie as Ron did a lengthy view of the massive changes. We’ll also review the newly updated .Mac service in a later article.
What iLife ‘08 boils down to is a superb upgrade—a few things new, more things integrated, and the same price as last year. Uh, make that 18 months ago. Apple skipped iLife ‘07 all together.
Does iLife ‘08 really make the Mac the center of the digital hub? In more ways than a Windows PC ever thought of—yes.
Have you picked up your copy of iLife ‘08 yet? What did you think? Share your considerations in the Comments section below.