Thursday, August 09, 2007

Favorite little features of iLife '08

I didn't think I'd be upgrading my bundled version of iLife, Apple's Mac-only entry-level digital media lifestyle software suite. Every new Mac comes with iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, Garage Band and iWeb. I think this time it's a good value even if you have to pay the full price to 'upgrade'. As a little introductory rant, iLife can be viewed as a package of demos for Apple's professional software offerings. iPhoto is an ultra light version of Aperture. iMovie is a basic version of Final Cut Express and Final Cut Pro. Garage Band is the baby version of Logic Express and Logic Pro. The two features I'm about to mention are so valuable yet deliberately left out of iLife for all the previous versions.

If you've ever taken video using your digital camera in the portrait orientation, you probably regretted it after loading it onto your computer since it'd only display in landscape view anyway. One cool new feature in the new iMovie is cropping and rotating video. Previously, this feature was also available from Apple as part of Quicktime Pro (29 USD) or sold as a third-party iMovie plugin. Windows users can use VirtualDub, although it's not the paragon of user-friendliness.

The other feature I liked that was only briefly mentioned in the press event is notation printing in Garage Band. In previous versions, Garage Band would show you the musical notation of tracks you create but the ability to print it out was found only in the premium Logic offerings. Now, even if you don't write music in your spare time, you can open up a MIDI file in Garage Band to view the notation and then theoretically print it out to play on the piano.

Sorry this is getting long, but if you're not already bored, bear with me for just a bit longer.

I can't talk about iLife without also mentioning the brand new iMovie. It borrows a feature of Windows MovieMaker where it will automatically create scenes within in your videos by looking at when the camera was stopped and restarted. It also has speeds up the process of creating videos by including a really fast way to 'scrub' through and select scenese by mousing over the thumbnails. Conservatively speaking, iMovie and iPhoto themselves are worth the 79 dollar cost of iLife, not including educational or corporate discounts. It's worth mentioning that iPhoto has a new feature to easily if not automatically group the photos in your library into events. I'm also going to get iWork. You've doubtlessly heard at least of past rumors about its slick new spreadsheet application, but I have less of a legitimate reason for getting it. Takers?

Product links: iLife, iWork

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