The first of the new applications showed off in the iLife ’11 suite is a new version of iPhoto. The update brings a number of fresh takes on editing photos. Some big improvements include additional slideshow implementations – just add your pictures, click a button, and iPhoto arranges your photos into a slideshow replete with CGI transitions and music. It’s a very slick interface.
Other updates include improvements to photo sharing and deeper integration with Facebook photo publishing, a full-screen mode reminiscent of an iPad app (could this be a future plan for the software? maybe so) and an amazing book generator. The new book layout feature is pretty incredible – iPhoto will customize a book tailored to a user’s set of pictures, but allow a wide degree of individual choice. Once it’s laid out, it’s uploaded to Apple’s servers and, if desired, lets you order the book just a few days later.
iMovie ’11 brings a number of enhancements as well, including real-time audio waveform editing and better video tagging (bringing with it the face detection algorithms from iPhoto). The improved iMovie really looks to like Apple is trying very hard to help people show what they want to show – it walks users through a number of basic activities.
From outlines to storyboards, iMovie is all about making users feel like big time movie directors. No feature shows this as powerfully as the new “Movie Trailer” functionality.
GarageBand was also given a few major updates before being added to the iLife ’11 suite. Flex Time lets Mac users correct timing mistakes on individual tracks in a compilation. Keep in mind that this won’t work if multiple players are playing on a single track. Flex time can be used to increase the length of a rest measure, note, riff or even just a beat.
Hand in hand with Flex Time, Groove Matching is also a useful new tool for correcting minor performance mistakes. Again, used most powerfully when dealing with multitrack recordings, Groove Matching lets users pick a single track – Apple’s example uses an on-tempo drumline as the lucky one – and Garageband ’11 automatically fixes and rearranges every other track to be in sync with that one. It’s a pretty slick feature.
The lessons aspect of GarageBand was also updated. While Apple has included free and pay lessons since the program’s inception, they’ve been expanded upon in the iLife ’11 group. This time around, in addition to a widescreen player, the program can analyze, grade and score your playback performance. It even tracks your scoring over time so you can follow your progress as you improve.
The last components of the iLife ’11 suite of applications, iWeb – a WYSIWYG HTML editor – and iDVD – a DVD authoring program. They weren’t really mentioned during the presentation, however, and even the Apple website plays them down.
The iLife ’11 suite is now shipping on new Macintosh orders but for those who’d like to upgrade, it’s available from the Apple Store for $49. Family packs are just thirty dollars more.