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iLife previewed, order placed

by Philip Sellers

You can usually count on Macworld Expo to see the latest updates for iLife on a yearly basis.  I’m not sure exactly what we’ll do next year, given this was the last year Apple will participate in the Expo, but this year didn’t disappoint.  iLife ’09 was introduced and demoed during the keynote and the refresh adds some great features to the product line.  Specifically, the iPhoto and iMovie upgrades are the most compelling of the suite.  

iPhoto adds two key features called Faces and Places.  Faces is Apple’s implemention of facial recognition within iPhoto – a la Picasa Web.  The facial recognition software was touted as the “best we’ve seen” by Schiller and the way it was implemented is the normal Apple elegance.  Once a face is tagged, your entire library is searched and the face is put onto the Faces corkboard.  If you click into the face from the corkboard, additional photos that might be the person will be displayed.  You confirm them with a simple click to help Faces learn and refine its recognition.  

The release also allows iPhoto to integrate with Facebook, which is a huge feature for a large swath of their target market.  The Facebook integration ties to the Faces component and allows for Facebook tagging in photos (which was THE killer feature that caused me to switch from MySpace).   When you upload photos from iPhoto which are tagged with Faces, the people are identified and tagged in Facebook as well.  It can even generate email notifications to other Facebook users if you have their correct email tagged in iPhoto.  The Facebook integration works just like it does for MobileMe galleries (formerly .Mac Galleries).  The web galleries are listed in the left navigation panel and you are able to syncronize the photos in both direction.  

Geotagging is also added in the new version.  This allows you to show the where the photos were taken in your album.  You easily locate all of your photos taken in D.C. for instance from all the years of travels to the area.  The release also adds Flickr support, and the geotagging integrates with Flickr’s geotagging support.  

iMovie also received a lot of new features.  Last year, Apple intro’d a completely rewritten iMovie version.  It was revolutionary in how it worked and the features it offered.  To me, it made iMovie a really usable product.  I love the library feature of keeping all your raw footage just mouseclicks away.  But there are some things that were not as developed or just missing completely.  Fortunately, iMovie ’09 goes a long way to remedying this.  There are new transitions, animations, text effects and usable features added in the release.  Chief among these are the basic video controls that were lacking in the ’08 version.  You are now able to speed up and slow down video, adjust audio and layer video within the program.  Apple also brought out the developer behind the iMovie product, one of the biggest gripes from last year’s keynote.  After hearing how this new version was developed, I think most of us wanted to meet this impressive person who had dreamed it up and created it.  

Based on just those two products, I’ve placed my pre-order and I am waiting til the end of the month when it ships.  I  hope that I will be suprised and it will ship early and arrive early.  

On another note, yesterday’s Macworld Keynote was the last of a great thing.  I’ve watched with lots of anticipation for many years as the Steve has ushered in product after product.  This year, there was no Steve and the keynote was delivered by Phil Schiller.  While Schiller wasn’t able to meet the same level of showmanship as Steve, he did a good job.

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