iLife ’09, Update or New Version?

Posted: February 21, 2009 in Apple, Mac OSX, software
Tags: , ,

I had the opportunity to install iLife 09 and see what all the fuss is about, and so far I think it’s a good update but not worthy of being called a new version, with the exception of iPhoto maybe.

iPhoto has added in some new features, mainly Faces and Places. Faces is a fun little feature that allows you to tag people in your photos and thereby group the photos by name, so you can basically see who is in what photos.  Kinda.  Strangely enough it seems to think my kids look alike, which I can sorta understand but according to iPhoto Faces they also look like a few of their friends, cousins, aunts, etc.  Basically anyone with a face.   It seems that the program is better at recognizing certain shapes of faces more than others.  And, apparently, anyone who wears glasses is the same person.  Some people in my library are easier for Faces to recognize than others, again, it all depends on facial features and shape etc.  So maybe the more distinct the better, but i was a bit surprised that it managed to recognize my daughter with vampire makeup on, but not with a hat on.  If you are looking to organize and share easier, then iPhoto 09 is a good way to do just that, but not much else.

Places is fun if you have the time to tag your photos to show where they were taken.  After you have tagged them, then when you look at Places you will see where you took the photos on a map.  Might be kinda fun if you travel a lot, but i can’t see it being the kind of feature that people must-have enough to justify the cost of the upgrade.  Even Faces is not much more than a new way to organize your photos and can be a real time-vampire if you wanted to tag all your photos – believe me, i was toying with it for a couple of hours and barely got 5% of my photos tagged.

iMovie?  Well, it has a few more features, nothing majorly different in the way it works, and still no timeline viewer.  Sure the precision editor is a nice thing, and there are more transitions, as well as other small changes, but basically its the same as the previous version in looks and functionality.  I realize Apple may have decided to aim this app at the home user who doesn’t want the control and just wants a quick easy movie, the YouTube generation if you will, but for those of us who actually want to put a little flair in our movies and make them our own, its not quite there.   If you like your editing app to do all the work for you and decide what transitions to use etc, then this may be the app for you.  The new themes make it so much easier to create with very little work needed on your part.  Drop some photos and movie clips into a timeline, choose a dynamic theme and let iMovie do all the work.

iWeb got updates, but since i was so disappointed in the last version and stopped using it, i didn’t even bother firing this one up to see what changed.

iDVD?  Is it not even part of iLife anymore?  Sheesh.  Did they run outta time?  I mean, its a good app and all, but it could use some updating and some new themes or something.  Honestly i feel a little ripped off that it didn’t change in the latest iLife suite, and when it comes to the hype about iLife 09, its hardly mentioned.

Last but not least, okay maybe least, since its the least used of the iLife programs for me, GarageBand.  It can be a fun way to create soundtracks for your movies or just goof around creating music.  Its not the kind of stuff that’ll make you famous or anything, but can be very cool for background music in your own iMovies.  But you have always been able to do that with GarageBand, and this version is not that much different, with the exception of the teaching part of the program that has been added in.  The overall look is a bit cleaner, and the opening splash screen has a few different options now, but the basic use and function is still the same.

Don’t get me wrong, the teaching part of it is big, and i’m sure took a lot of man hours, and to be able to learn a song from Sting – well, that is way cool. But if you do want to learn from one of the music icons available you have to buy the lesson from the lesson store, an integrated part of the latest GarageBand.  Right now there are only 8 songs listed in the Artist Store but i’m sure there will be more added if and when this part of GarageBand catches on.

So, is it worth the upgrade price?  Well… if you are a fan of using iPhoto to as your photo organizer then the updates may be worth it to you.  Add to the that the changes to iMovie and its enough of an update for me to justify it, even without using Garageband or iWeb.  IMHO its not the kind of changes that will make the masses run to their neighbourhood Apple retailer with credit card in hand, but as with many Apple programs, the fact they work well and let you do so much so easily with very little technical expertise or a huge learning curve is enough reason for many to pry open the purse strings and pick it up.



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