The updated softwares – iLife’09 and iWork’09 – are definitely worth looking into. Again, these are not revolutionary changes to the two application suits, but a maturing of softwares that targets the general consumers, but sprinkled with professional features that are made easy to use. Yes, even your grandma can definitely do those edits with these new tools.
You can see the new features here at their respective pages – “iLife’09″:http://www.apple.com/ilife/ and “iWork’09″:http://www.apple.com/iwork/. But here are some of the more interesting new features.
h4. Putting Faces and Places in iPhoto
The most exciting improvements to iPhoto, though might on first look mere cosmetic, is the introduction of Faces and Places. Those two, add to that with Events, gives you a much more intuitive way of organizing, viewing and sharing of your photos, as briefly touched on in this post at “37signals”:http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/1507-iphoto-09-and-domain-language.
bq. Apple realized that people don’t just want to find photos. Go back to iPhoto’s domain: it’s that situation where you have a bunch of photos and you want to look at them and share them. When you’re in that situation, you don’t just want to see random photos. You want to see and share photos of certain things. Like photos of your wedding, photos of your trip to Maine, or photos of that dinner in Paris. These are Events.
With Faces, iPhoto lets you easily sieve through tons of photos and group them of a particular person on an easily accessible page. Need to find all the photos of your wife or your Mom, just tag a few of the photos and let iPhoto identify the photos taken of them easily. Added with sync support to FaceBook, you can easily upload photos of your friends whom you had named in iPhoto, when synced will be converted into tags in FaceBook and your friends will be automatically notified about these new photos. My concern is how good the detection is when the person is not looking directly at the camera.
As for Places, you can track the photos taken at various places on your previous holidays, or find all the photos taken over the years at a particular spot in the country. However, as most of us won’t have a GPS-equiped camera (or iPhone, at least till last year), most of our photos need to be painstakingly geotagged for Places to be effective.
Themed slideshows and Travel Maps are beautifully done, but are mostly cosmetic than useful. How many Sliding Panels slideshow do you want to see before it becomes passe?
I’d love to use iPhoto just because of Faces and Places, but I’d think twice as I still prefer to organize my photos via the Finder than to have all my photos imported into the iPhoto Library, something which Aperture and Lightroom allows.
h4. Pro-app features in iMovie
iMovie meanwhile, have a few new tools that you might find only in professional applications – video stabilization, precision editing of both the video and audio tracks, green-screen and picture-in-picture effects (need to activate advance functions to see them), just to name a few.
Video shooting is becoming more available now to consumers, from small handhelds like Flip Video, to traditional video cams from Canon, Sony etc to even higher-end DSLRs like Canon 5D MkII and Nikon D90, we will definitely see more home-made videos being shot. But as most of us don’t have access to “steadycams”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steadicam, many if not most of our videos will be like watching the Blaire Witch movie. Having video stabilization built into iPhoto, a previously pro-app only feature, is a boost for all. To see it in action, see it “here”:http://www.apple.com/ilife/imovie/#stabilization. However, do note that you will need to run your raw clips through iPhoto’s Analyze for Stabilization option before stabilization will be set, and it will definitely take time if your clips are long. This feature itself, is definitely worth the money paid for iLife.
The improved editing and effects tools will definitely push more consumers not just to shoot videos, but also to edit them and share them with friends and families.
h4. GarageBand, iWeb and iDVD
GarageBand has become a popular tools not just for musicians to record and produce their music, but also for podcasters to mix their podcasts for their shows. It has also become a useful tool for ring tone creation for your iPhone. With iLife’09, GarageBand now takes on another role in your music life – as your personal music teacher.
They have included Basic Lessons, using videos and interactive features on GarageBand to teach you piano and guitar lessons. For more advance classes, you can even enlists help from famous artists like Sting, Sarah McLachlan and Norah Jones to teach you how to play their tunes. Though you will need to pay for these Artists Lessons via GarageBand’s built-in store.
IWeb wasn’t mentioned during the keynote but Apple’s collaboration with Facebook also extended to iWeb. When you link your iWeb site to your Facebook account, whenever an update is done to the site, a “notification”:http://www.apple.com/ilife/iweb/#facebook will be sent out to all your friends in Facebook. Other improvements includes updates to the “widgets”:http://www.apple.com/ilife/iweb/#widgets that you can add to your site – RSS feeds, YouTube videos and Google Maps and Adsense to name a few.
Nothing new in iDVD except probably some new themes to the mix.
h4. To buy or not to buy?
So is it worth spending S$138 (S$168 for 5 License Family Pack) for iLife’09?
YES, if you want to make full use of the photos and videos you took. Apple has made these tools that will give your photos and videos an attractive and professional look and more importantly, in an affordable and very easy to use package.
Do check it out at the nearest “Apple store”:http://iheartapple.org/singapore/ and test them out.
Update: If you buy a Mac on or after January 6 that shipped without iLife’09, you can get the upgrade at a cool S$18 with Apple’s “iLife Up-To-Date”:http://www.apple.com/sg/ilife/uptodate/ Program. Do read up the details on how you can get your upgrade before the end of March.