Expo: Apple introduces iLife ’09

Peter Cohen, Macworld
7 January, 2009
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Apple today introduced a new version of iLife, its software suite that it includes with new Macs.

iPhoto ‘09. Building on its predecessor which introduced a feature called “Events” that let you organise photos around specific events, iPhoto ‘09 introduces “Faces.” The software incorporates facial recognition features. The software identifies faces of people in the pictures you take. You can assign them names, then iPhoto adds a snapshot. It uses facial recognition to identify the same person across multiple photos.

“Places” is also new. Like “Events” and “Faces,” it gives iPhoto users a new way to organise photos by place—users are presented with a map with pins for where your photos are located. It uses geotagging—GPS-based location-finding technology embedded in many newer digital cameras, as well as the iPhone. Users who don’t have a camera device that supports geotagging can rely on Google Maps or just typing in location data. iPhoto has a database of place names for common vacation and travel spots.

iPhoto also adds integration with Facebook and Flickr, two popular social networking Web sites. iPhoto ‘09 can automatically export photos to Facebook; if a Facebook user assigns a name to people in your photo, the information will be synced back to iPhoto.

A new panel has been added for slideshows, and more themes have been added to printing and books, including a “Travel Books” option which incorporates maps produced using geotagging data.

iMovie ‘09. The previous version of iMovie was not well-regarded by long-time users of Apple’s consumer-oriented video editing software. A dramatic redesign focused on ease of use at the expense of many features and functions that iMovie users had grown accustomed to. In introducing iMovie ‘09, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller tacitly acknowledged this, and noted that Apple has added “depth and power” to the new release.

A new precision editor has been incorporated into iMovie ‘09, with an expanded timeline view for advanced users. Drag & drop of clips has been improved: You can now replace, insert, or add audio only from clips. And audio can be extended from the first clip over audio from the second clip to cover sound difference.

Automatic video stabilisation is also a key new feature. The software identifies “jittery” motion and reduces it by comparing frames of video to subsequent and previous frames.

Other new features include new dynamic themes with titles, transitions and credits, including an “Indiana Jones”-style animated travel map that is customised depending on what location you’re shooting from. A new Project Library shows you all of your film clips. Clips can be slowed down, new video effects have been added (with instant previewing — no rendering is necessary).

GarageBand ‘09. GarageBand, Apple’s music composition software, also gets a major update in iLife ‘09. The new release adds “Learn to Play:” Built-in High-Definition (HD) videos of instructors offering you lessons in how to play musical instruments. Nine basic lessons for guitar and piano are available to start — you can download them when you need to use them.

“Artist Lessons” also helps you learn how to play popular songs directly from the artists themselves. John Fogerty, Colbie Caillat, Patrick Stump and Sting show off guitar skills, while Sarah McLachlan, Ryan Tedder and Norah Jones demonstrate their piano-playing techniques.

iWeb and iDVD updated. Apple’s iWeb web publishing software and iDVD DVD creation software have also been updated. iWeb ‘09 adds new “iWeb Widgets,” which enable users to embed mini-applications on their Web pages like iSight video and photos, a countdown timer, YouTube videos and RSS feeds.

At long last, iWeb has also integrated publishing using File Transfer Protocol (FTP), which enables iWeb users to publish their sites to any hosting service — up to now, the software has relied on a .Mac/MobileMe-centric publishing system that made it unwieldy for the average user to use their own site to post iWeb-produced content. iWeb ‘09 also can automatically push site updates to your Facebook profile.

iLife ‘09 requires Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard.” To incent existing Mac users to update their operating system, Apple is also offering the “Mac Box Set:” iLife ‘09, the newly minted iWork ‘09 and a copy of Leopard, together for $US169 (Australian pricing TBA). The bundle is expected to ship at the same time as iLife ‘09, in late January.

iLife ’09 will cost $129 for Australian customers and ship later this month.

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