I bought my new MacBook Pro in the period between Apple announcing the new iLife 09 and the software becoming available for sale. In those situations Apple generally offer an upgrade for a nominal cost, which I have taken advantage of. The DVD turned up yesterday. I actually only really use iPhoto from the suite (the other applications are iMovie (for movie editing) and GarageBand (a music program). There is also iWeb which I use for my family website, which I update roughly every six months (so that doesn’t get much use either).
I am quite impressed with the updated iPhoto 09. I’m a fairly keen photographer and so I appreciate a good photo management tool, which iPhoto is. The key changes are the addition of the tools Places and Faces, and also an integral Facebook, Flikr and MobileMe uploader. I use all three of these online services so that’s a useful development.
Faces is a rather clever face recognition tool. iPhoto took an hour or so to scan the 7000-odd pictures in my library, after which it groups together the faces it thinks are the same person. There is then a manual process of approving it’s decisions. It learns over time, and in the space of an evening I have got to a point where I’ve got the key people categorised properly. It’s a nice feature and helpful particularly when looking for a particular photo.
Places takes advantage of the increasing trend for GPS geo-tagging photos. My Nokia N95, which I use for quick shots of interesting things I see out and about (it has a 5 megapixel camera) is set up to automatically Geo-tag any pictures I take, but my Olympus E400 doesn’t. I’m hoping for a GPS logger for my birthday (hint hint Mrs Fleet) but I until I get that it is possible to manually tag photos or groups of photos, and the application has a sophisticated search tool which enables one to quickly identify the location – even down to individual houses. This is slightly more gimmicky than Faces but is still fun to do, and I like being able to go back to see where my pictures were taken.
I wouldn’t describe iLife 09 as an essential upgrade by any means, but there are some good innovations there, and Faces in particular is great.