iLife ’09 – a quick first look

Yesterday evening I picked up a copy of iLife ’09 from my local Apple store.  I’d been waiting for it to be released since the keynote earlier in January, and now it was finally in my hands.

Installation was as simple as you’d expect from an Apple product, but it does completely blow away any previous versions of iLife.  If you want to downgrade, make sure you have the original media in order to do so.

I only really use iPhoto and GarageBand, and as a result, these are the only two components I looked at last night.

iPhoto: The latest version of iPhoto supports a couple of nice new features – locations and faces.  When you first start up the app, it converts your old iPhoto library into the new format, and then scans each picture for faces.  It actually does a pretty good job of detecting and grouping faces – I was particularly impressed that it managed to keep track of the growth of my nephew from a few month old up to his current age of around 20 months.  Tag one photo of the person, and all others with the same face are also tagged.

The mapping feature is also pretty cool.  If your camera supports GPS data, iPhoto will read this data and associate the photos with locations on a (Google-provided) map within the application.  If it doesn’t support GPS, you can add the location data manually.  Searching for a location is very easy, just type in a city and it will suggest all the possible matches.  Even better, you can specify more specific locations (e.g. “Sea World, Orlando”) and these will (mostly) appear along with the correct location on a map.

Garageband: I didn’t have much time last night to delve into all the new features here, but I had a quick poke around with the new tutorial elements.  The much-vaunted celebrity lessons are available from launch day, with UK pricing for this premium content initially set at £3.99 per lesson.  Pretty good value if you want to learn one of the ten songs available from the original musicians involved.  Also available are quite a few more general guitar and piano lessons.  These are free of charge.

Tonight, I hope to play with some of the new guitar amp and stompbox effects that come with the product, so I’ll hopefully be able to post about them in the next day or two.

Overall, my first impression of the upgrade is very favourable.  The interface is familiar enough to not cause concern while also giving access to the new features.  As you’d expect from Apple, it’s very intuitive and gives a helping hand where it thinks you may need it.

Initial score : 10/10, but what do I know?  I’m just a user. :)