Apple iLife 09

Apple’s iLife suite is designed to help you organise and manipulate content such as photos, movies, music, DVD and web-based content. Apple updates this suite every year so is this latest iteration a worthwhile upgrade over its predecessor?

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Apple iLife 09
By  Jason Saundalkar Published  April 14, 2009

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Key Specs

HD space: 4GB
Licence: 1
Memory: 512MB
Number of users: 1
OS: Mac OSX v10.5.6

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Apple’s iLife suite is a multimedia package that is designed to help you organise and manipulate content such as photos, movies, music, DVD and web-based content. Apple updates this suite every year so is this latest iteration a worthwhile upgrade over its predecessor? Lets find out…

The software installation process is straightforward - as you’d expect of an Apple product - but if you don’t have all the necessary software prior to installing iLife, the installation procedure will take slightly longer. In our case, the software had to update the version of Mac OS X running on our MacBook Air before we could proceed and this added about eight minutes to the install time. All-in-all, we were able to install iLife 09 in less than 17 minutes.

Comparing iLife 09 to its predecessor - iLife 08 - the biggest difference the team noticed was with the iMovie application. And of the new features perhaps the biggest and most useful is the image stabiliser. This does exactly what you’d expect; if you’ve got an unsteady hand and your video looks like you’ve been running after the subject, this will help you correct the video so it’s viewable and won’t give your viewers a headache. Using sample video with a fair bit of movement, we were quite impressed with how stable the content appeared after we applied the stabiliser to it. Great work Apple.

Another new feature is one known as ‘Faces’ and is part of the iPhoto 09 application. This is essentially designed to help you organise and search for photos without burdening you with the hassle of manually sifting through hundreds of photos. The feature uses face detection technology and once you’ve tagged four or five photos, you can then use the feature to search for the person. When you do this, it will automatically use its face detection to try and locate the right person.

Sounds great in theory but in reality, the software proved flaky at best. Although Faces was able to identify some pictures with the person we were looking for, it missed numerous other pictures. We eventually reasoned that this was because the photographs weren’t of the best quality and that the person we were looking for wasn’t always from straight on. This being the case, this feature is ultimately a case of close but no cigar.

GarageBand 09 boasts perhaps the package’s most standout feature in the form of its nine free tutorial lessons. Each lesson walks you through playing a song by showing you a video and also shows you all the notes at the same time. However, the person talking you through the whole thing is not a bog standard music teacher but rather an established musician. So, if you’re trying to learn Sting’s ‘Roxanne’, you have the man himself taking you through the whole thing. There are also other artists such as Norah Jones and as Apple plans to add more instruments to GarageBand (currently only guitar and piano are offered), we’re sure you’ll see an ever wider breath of artists appearing in future versions.

For: iMovie's image stabiliser features work well, GarageBand lessons work well and give you genuine knowledge, Facebook integration.

Against: Dual-core CPU requirement will limit its potential user base, Blu-ray support is amiss, 'Faces' feature failed to recognise our photos.
Verdict: A decent suite with some useable features. Not a worthwhile buy if you already own iLife 08 and you're satisfied however.

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