Apple’s iLife ‘09 is on the streets and jam packed with delicious annual improvements and eye candy. Literally.
How does Apple manage to add features to iLife’s suite of apps without adding the extra weight and burden associated with feature creep? Focus, Grasshopper. It’s all about focus. Literally, in the case of iPhoto’s new face recognition technology.
Apple’s focus on delivering enough tasty newness with each iLife update is to be commended. But scratch the surface of that focus and you can see where the future is.
That means there is not much of a future for iDVD, the forgotten step child, black sheep, retarded little brother of the iLife suite. iDVD is there, but it’s the same old, same old, and not even mentioned as a part of the suite.
What is in iLife won’t make your head twirl around in circles (unless you’ve never used iLife before, and this is your first time to compare crapola Windows PC apps to iLife) but it will make you oooh and aaah, and cough up nearly annualized Apple Tax money.
First up is iPhoto which has a bunch of new features, but two that will make your iPhoto life interesting and frustrating at the same time.
Tops on everyone’s list of eye candy for iPhoto is Faces—the built-in face recognition technology. iPhoto will scan your Mac’s photos, scan the faces, stick all of what it finds in a database, then prompt you to identify faces.
Except for the occasional stray cat and ugly neighbor, face recognition works surprisingly well—though slowly at first. It took almost two hours to scan my 15,000 plus photos (4,996 photos for each of my kids, and 10 of my husband).
After that, grab a face in a photo and with a few clicks you can train iPhoto to recognize other faces. That concept assumes the faces don’t change much, which from teenage years to old folks is often the case, but not for younger children.
But I like face recognition anyway.
Also included in iPhoto is Places—location-based technology so you can categorize and sort your photos by where they were taken. If you have an iPhone or GPS enabled digital camera, of course.
The integration with Google Maps is very cool and leaves you with a highly graphic and attractive array of slide shows collected by location, including the ability in iPhoto to crop photos to match themes. That’s sweet.
What’s not so sweet is the other 14,000 photos in my collection with no GPS-enabled location. That information has to be entered by hand. The process is simple but tedious. I’ll let my husband do that. Until he grumbles about the boredom. Then he can change diapers while I point and click.
Lesser promoted are the changes to Garageband, again with focus on the basic, non-professional user (remember the last update of iMovie?) with lessons for guitar and piano, live band play along capability full screen.
Those new features are pleasant, and Garageband remains a highly capable audio recording application. How does it fare in the feature wars to the new iMovie?
iMovie finally grows up and not a minute too soon. The new ‘09 version features new and much overdue transitions, effects, and titles as well as themes and maps.
More important is that the new iMovie gets specialized drag and drop capability which makes it easier to overlay video and audio tracks with more precision. Oh, and for the iMovie complainers who hated the imprecise editing of the previous version, there’s now a Precision Editor.
My favorite feature is Video Stabilization. It’s similar to the stabilization found in many video cameras but it works on your video clips that are shaky with movement. It’s a bit slow to analyze and implement video stabilization for some longer clips.
The result is a video clip that was jumpy and shaky, and now flows as smooth as a warm knife through butter. Added to the new controls, themes, and maps, and the Library Browser, and iMovie is worth the price of iLife admission by itself.
Elsewhere in iLife ‘09 is iWeb, which got a few improvements—new widgets, and better integration with MobileMe, Facebook integration, and the ability to quickly publish your site somewhere else besides Apple’s anemic MobileMe site.
iDVD? A forgotten step child is, well, forgotten. Nothing new. Nothing. Na da. That tells us what Apple thinks of the future of the DVD, right? In all fairness, what else could you add to iDVD that would make users want to use it more? Porn themes, maybe.
iLife goes for the usual $79 for a single Mac, and $99 for a household of Macs, and is available online through the Mac360 Store (it’s really Amazon). The old version is still available, now at a discount.