Why I Can’t Wait to Get My Hands on iLife ’09

On Tuesday, Apple announced the next version of their iLife suite. I have been using iLife since the very first version and have faithfully upgraded with the availability of each new version. While each version has had its own nice new enhancements, I am drawn to this newest iteration more than its predecessors.

What is so special about iLife ’09? Well, let’s start with iPhoto. The features that interest me the most are Faces and Online Sharing. Apple has included face detection and face recognition functionality in iPhoto for the first time, and I could not be more excited. Almost all of our photos are of our kids or friends and family, and I spend a significant amount of time tagging and categorizing our photos by person. The Faces feature will make it so much easier for me to manage out photos that I might actually be able to post new photos before they’re old and dated.

Going along with the Faces feature is the new ability to share photos on Flickr and Facebook directly from iPhoto. I have been using FlickrExport from Connected Flow for quite some time, and it is a great iPhoto plugin, but I am excited to see Apple embracing online sharing sites other than its own MobileMe. Both Flickr and Facebook offer APIs that Apple has been able to use (I assume), and it also appears that Apple has worked directly with both of these companies because the functionality seems to go beyond functionality created by other companies. As a Flickr and Facebook user, I am excited to try the new integration with iPhoto. I have avoided posting any photos on Facebook because I already use Flickr, but now I should be able to share the same iPhoto albums or events in Flickr and Facebook with a click or two. What’s really cool is that the Faces feature in iPhoto works with the tag feature in Facebook. Cool stuff.

I am also excited to give the new GarageBand a shot. With the new MacBook, I will finally be able to connect our Roland digital piano to a Mac via MIDI to see what kind of music I can create. It should be fun to see what I can do. It’s been a long time, but I’m sure it will all come back to me. The piano and guitar lessons will help me along, I’m sure. Plus, how cool will it be to learn Roxanne from Sting and Proud Mary from John Fogerty? I’ll post anything cool I come up with.

Once I get my hands on iLife ’09, I will report back and let you know if it lives up to my expectations. Based on what I saw in the keynote, it certainly looks like an upgrade that everyone will find useful.

iPhoto ’08, Great New Features

On Tuesday, Apple announced and released the latest and greatest version of their iLife suite. On the surface, iLife ’08 looks like an update worthy of purchasing. I have been using iLife ’05 since January 2005, and have generally been very happy with it.

The one application my family and I use most is iPhoto. Like most families with kids and pets, we take a ton of digital photos. Without a great program like iPhoto, it would be incredibly difficult to manage our photo library. iPhoto ’05 has some great features, and we’ve used them to their full potential. iPhoto ’06 added Photocasting which almost got me to upgrade, but .Mac had such little storage that it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for me to share my photos using Photocasting. Instead I turned to services like Flickr to share photos.

Apple’s announcements on Tuesday may have changed things a bit for us. In addition to the iLife update, .Mac got a long needed increase in storage space and monthly bandwidth allowance. This opens the door to using iPhoto and .Mac to share photos and movies with the world. Following are the new features I find most interesting.

.Mac Web Gallery

With .Mac Web Galleries, Apple actually replaces the Photocasting feature they added to iPhoto ’06. .Mac Web Galleries provides the ability to share photos with your friends and family (or the entire world) with a few clicks of the mouse. As the name indicates, a .Mac account is required to really make these web galleries work. Unfortunately, Apple did not make it possible to use an outside web host. The web pages created by iPhoto and .Mac are incredible. They offer all of the best features that Web 2.0 has to offer. Check out the sample gallery that Apple created. To me, the .Mac Web Galleries alone are worth the price of the upgrade to iLife ’08.

New calendars

My wife and I have a little tradition going of giving calendars of our kids to our parents and grandparents every Christmas. We’ve always used Ofoto (or Kodak Photo Gallery as they call it now although I think they should have stuck with Ofoto) to make our calendars, but we may have to switch to iPhoto this holiday season because of all of the cool features. The templates look great, and I really like the feature that makes it possible to put photos on specific dates. It would be pretty sweet to put pictures of everyone on their birthdays.

Home Printing

Okay, so home printing doesn’t sound all that cool or ground breaking, but it is something new to iPhoto ’08. iPhoto provides themes with borders and mattes that make instant frame-ready prints. Text can also be added to the prints. For all of us that have photo printers sitting around the house, we can have instant gratification by printing photos ready for framing directly from iPhoto.

Events

Events are a new way to organize photos in iPhoto ’08. The program automatically assumes that photos from a particular day were most likely taken at the same event. Basically, Events provides another layer of organization beyond albums. For me, time will tell if the new Events feature justifies all of the time Steve Jobs spent talking about it at the event on Tuesday.

iPhoto ’08 is yet another reason for Windows users to make the switch to Mac to manage their digital lives. Trust me, there is nothing this good for Windows. Period.

Macworld Expo Wrap-Up

Okay, I’d like to apologize for taking almost a month to comment on what happened at Macworld last month. Every time I’ve tried to sit down and write anything, something else comes up, or I find myself passed out on the couch. Anyway . . . as expected, Apple (AAPL) came out with some really great new stuff. The Intel Macs came out six months early starting with the new iMac. From what I’ve read, these things scream when they’re using software written for the Intel processors inside of them. Even with the transition layer, old PowerPC software runs very well. I really think that once all software has transitioned to run natively on Intel Macs, individuals and businesses will think twice about buying a Windows (or is it Windose) machine. The Macs will look and run too well to pass up.

Apple also introduced the new MacBook Pro which is pretty much the notebook computer I’ve been waiting for all these years. If only I could justify the cost to get one. Hey, if any of you have a suggestion on how to convince my wife and me to get one of these, I’m open to suggestions.

Apple also updated the iLife and iWork packages. I have to tell you, I wouldn’t enjoy working with digital photos and digital movies nearly as much without iPhoto and iMovie at my disposal. Those two programs make it so easy! Then there’s iTunes. I think no comment is necessary about how iTunes has changed the world.

Anyway, that’s my wrap-up of the announcements at Macworld. I can’t wait to see what Steve Jobs has up his sleeve for the next Apple event. Until then . .