Macworld 2009: Apple unveils iLife ’09

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Macworld 2009: Apple unveils iLife '09

San Francisco (CA) – Apple updated its iLife digital lifestyle suite during the Macworld 2009 keynote at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The company’s marketing chief Phil Schiller unveiled iLife ’09, a long overdue update to an application suite that enables users to organize and manage their music, photos, videos and edit web sites.

Several new features offer evolutionary leaps to an already strong feature set Mac users have grown accustomed to. iPhoto ’09 comes with face detection and geotagging features, deep Flickr and Facebook integration, iMovie is also enhanced with dynamic themes and new real-time effects, while Garage Band ’09 now comes with a built-in store that sells playing lessons from celebrity artists on various songs.

Their photo management application iPhoto brings Faces feature that helps organize large photo libraries by faces (like Google’s Picasa software) with an added Apple twist. Faces feature displays a corkboard with people’s snapshots and leverages face detection recognition technology to automatically single out photos with people and assist user in tagging images by people’s names for easier retrieval later. When a mouse is hovered over a person’s corkboard entry, faces associated with that person are also shown.

“iPhoto finds the face, and you tell him it who it is,” said Phil Schiller while demoing the software on stage. “It will then find other photos that it thinks is the same person,” but it will also offer user choice to confirm if this is the same person as before. Although the executive said the face detection isn’t perfect, he dubbed it as “incredibly good.”

People images can also be grouped in a sidebar and smart albums. For example, “Our Family” smart album automatically updates itself with images from all members of a family.

Similar to Face, a new Places feature puts users’ photos on a world map using latitude and longitude information that iPhone and other GPS-enabled smartphones or high-end cameras embed within images.

“iPhoto converts that into a plain English location,” said Schiller. Users can also enter an event location for non-geotagged photos themselves within the application. For example, user can enter “Yosemite” and iPhoto will add a geotag to an entire set of images. The mapping part of Places feature is based on Google Maps so user can zoom in the map, switch between satellite and street maps.

Another new feature is deep integration between iPhoto, Flickr and Facebook. To be more precise, iPhoto now automatically pulls name tags that other Facebook users have added to people posted in your Facebook profile, and then adds that information to images stored locally in your Mac’s iPhoto library.

Slideshows are enhanced with new themes are leverage face detection technology to automatically zoom in and center photos. Slideshows in iPhoto can now be saved to iTunes and synced to iPhone or iPod touch.

Home video editing application iMovie ’09 received dynamic themes with titles, transitions and attractive real-time video effects like cartoon, x-ray, aged film, and more. There is also a new auto stabilization feature that can stabilize shaky videos.

There are also more robust editing features which ease clip insertion, positioning and editing with more precise controls and context-sensitive menus.

Maps is a jaw-dropping feature that applies animated 2D and 3D world map theme to clips to show someone’s travel across the world.

Music recording software Garage Band ’09 has a new feature dubbed “Learn to play.” Wrapped up in a slick new user interface, the “Learn to play” feature basically teaches users how to play any instrument.

Nine bundled piano and guitar lessons come with accompanying HD videos of the music instructor. The built-in store with Garage Band ’09 (another new feature) sells additional lessons for $4.99 each from famous artists like John Fogerty and Sting, who teach new users how to play their own songs.

The iLife ’09 upgrade is priced at $79 for a single license, or $99 for a family pack upgrade. The software will also come preloaded free of charge on all new Macs.