Apple iLife ‘09: A new life began
Apple’s iLife series is a bundle of image and video viewing and editing software, music player and a host of other multimedia and fun applications that Apple likes to call “Lifestyle utilities”. Whichever way you look at it, there’s a fair bit of additions and tweaks since iLife ‘08.
iPhoto – Apple’s answer to anything related to imaging has been spruced up with a couple of new features – Faces and Places. Besides this, the interface is a less cluttered as compared to earlier versions. Faces uses face-recognition algorithms to identify people. Once you name a face that has been identified, Faces can scan through other photos and identify those with that person and suggests a name to all the faces that match. Places is a geotagging application that allows tagging of photos. Places can either automatically tag the photos by looking up the GPS coordinates of the photo and place it on a map, or manually where you have to add a location to each photo. This is done by entering the name of the nearest city. Places has a slightly confusing interface.
iPhoto has a few nifty new image editing options. For one, the saturation slider can preserve skin tones – obviously very useful and sorely missed in iLife ‘08. The retouching brush will not dull edges anymore, useful for highlighting and subtly merging as required. There is a Definition tool that can be used to highlight edges. Some of the new features seem like they’ve been borrowed from Aperture, Apple’s image editing software.
GarageBand is has also seen major overhaul. Gone is the podcast-heavy interface and the focus is once again on instruments and music. Lessons is a nifty not to mention useful addition for budding musicians that teaches the basics of guitaring and the piano. The interface is cleanly laid out with the instructor occupying the top half of the screen and the piano keyboard/guitar fretboard occupying the bottom and you can learn the guitar and the piano. The Lessons themselves consist of a brief introduction followed by a demonstration from the on-screen teacher and after that you get to practice the piece. You can loop the piece if you need more practice. Once done, you can play along with the instructor. There are more advanced lessons available for a small fee from Lessons Store.
iMovie ‘09 is the next application we looked at. A very nifty feature is the ability to minimise image shake in captured videos and we were surprised to find this works pretty well. Although it cannot compensate for a jerky hand while shooting (obviously), it does iron out the odd shake. Precision Editor is another feature worthy of mention – it allows you to choose exactly which frame to edit and the navigation between frames that have been edited is smooth. You can see exactly which frames will be affected by the changes being made and the interface is intuitive and simple. However, editing is very resource intensive and even our 2.66 GHz Macbook Pro with 4 GB of DDR3 memory was slowed to a crawl.
iWeb, Apple’s application that enables easy creation of personal web changes hasn’t seen much changes and iWeb ‘09 is very similar to its predecessor. The interface is very simple. One addition since the previous version is a new tab called Widgets. Some of the widgets include YouTube video embedding and an RSS feed viewer. To be honest with the number of social networking sites around, one has to question the inclusion of this feature. iDVD hasn’t been changed at all and the interface looks the same. Burning Blu-rays is still impossible which we think is glaring omission.
iLife ‘09 can be termed as feature rich just as easily as someone else might term it as overpriced – it all depends on how much use you have of the bundled applications. We really liked iPhoto and GarageBand and these applications are something that will satisfy needy users. Some of the others like iWeb are nifty but a little unnecessary. People buying a new system will save a load of cash and end up with a free copy, and nobody throws away freebies, espicially good ones.