iLife ’09

  • iLife ’09 lets you get the most out of your photos, movies, and music on your Mac with new versions of iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, iWeb and iDVD
  • Organize and search your photos by faces and places with iPhoto ’09; Create a movie in minutes or edit your masterpiece with iMovie ’09
  • Learn to play, start a jam session, or record and mix your own song with GarageBand ’09
  • Design, publish, and update your own websites just the way you want them with iWeb ’09
  • Turn your home movies and photos into gorgeous Hollywood-style DVDs with iDVD

Product Description
iLife ’09 makes it easier than ever to get the most out of the photos, movies, and music on your Mac. In iPhoto ’09, you can organize and find your photos in two new ways: Faces, based on who is in your photos, and Places, based on where they were taken. iMovie ’09 lets you make the movie you want in the time you have. With new themes, you can give your movie a professional look in seconds. Or use the new Precision Editor to fine-tune your masterpiece. With Basic Le… More >>

iLife ’09


  1. I think the purpose for a review is to get a sense for the product being reviewd. Unfortunately user submitted online reviews can and do end up becoming bully pulpits where people who feel slighted launch invective towards a product. Let me say that this will not be that type of review.

    I own a Mac mini 1.66Ghz Core Duo with 2GB of RAM that shipped with iLife 06 (I skipped the 08 upgrade) . Even by the standards of 2007 it wasn’t a barn burner. I have become aquainted with iLife 09 (hereafter IL9) and here are my thoughts.

    iMovie 09 (IM9) – This is the second version of what has become a hot button issue for many users. My computer shipped with iMovie 06 aka iMovie HD and I have tried to edit some video in it. The anger comes from the fact that Apple scrapped iMovie HD for new application called iMovie 08. The problem was that iMovie 08 was such a radical departure from iMovie HD and it had much less features. The uproar was so loud Apple capitulated and allowed iMovie HD to be downloaded separately. Now we have the second generation of this new movie editing application and the iMovie HD fans are back with a vengeance but are they justified again? I do not believe so and here’s why.

    Apple switched to a whole new video app for reasons that we can only guess but I’d surmise that they felt that iMovie HD had grown too complex with plugins and time lines and audio editing features that are truly best served in a higher end application like Final Cut Express. They decided to go back to the roots. iMovie 08 would be a video app for people that only need to edit every now an then or total newbies.

    They have succeeded. iMovie ’09 rectify’s most of the issues i’ve seen that actually hampered the ability to edit video easily. It supports chapter markers for easy DVD creation in iDVD. The audio editing is improved (you can keep just the audio from a clip or just the video easily). The speed of this app is superb. Where as you had to render some effects and whatnot in iMovie HD in IM9 almost everything happens in realtime. I found this kept me in a creative mode where I could try out different titles or transitions very quickly and find something I liked. Here’s a feature that you’re going to love and use. Apple has taken a feature from their pro video software that analyzes your video and then takes a majority of the camera shake out. It really works provided your were shaking the camera like a tambourine. This feature alone will save those shots that you thought you lost because your hand was unsteady. It does require some hefty processing so it’s one of the features that isn’t “instant” and you can control how much shake gets removed. You can now edit with precision and you have many more editing choices. Want picture in picture? It’s easy. Editing in iMovie 09 is basically dragging clips around and choosing the ideal text and transition. The new templates are very nice and of course integration with your iTunes music, and your iPhoto pictures is a sidebar away. I’d like to see Apple re-implement plugins because 3rd party developers can do amazing things and I want them to but for now iMovie 09 is likely going to be a nice app for tossing together something appealing.

    iPhoto – Is certainly not as much of a hot button issue. The new iPhoto makes a big deal out of Faces and Places. With Faces you are supposed to be able to tag your friends and family and the software looks for facial features and groups them together. In practice I’ve found this to be rather iffy. It works well if you’ve framed someone’s face in a good straight on shot but it can get lost with more obscure photos. Surprisingly it does work on some pets. I imagine that it will improve over time but honestly even a human sometimes can err in doing the same task. Places is a godsend for those who travel. It allows you to pinpoint where you were during a photo via your longitude and latitude co-ordinates. Now there are cameras that will put this information right into the metadata of the photo you take but they are still pretty rare. I expect that in a couple of years all but the most inexpensive cameras will do Geo tagging. Fear not! You can manually tag your photos in bunches. That Greece trip you took last summer is easy to tag. Once you’ve accumulated your geo tagging data you can view a Google Earth map right from within iPhoto and there are pinpoint detailing everywhere you’ve taken photos. At any time you can double click a pinpoint and the photos assigned to that location are displayed. This is yet another way to look at your photos! Here’s another feature …if you use Facebook you can upload photos right from within iPhoto. Facebook fans are always adding tag info to their friends photos. If you upload say a photo of you and other people to Facebook and someone tags their their photo, iPhoto will sync that tag information back to your library. There’s more to iPhoto but these are some of the salient features. My wish is that the Flickr export options grow to have more controls and I’d love to see iPhoto find a way to edit image files without creating a copy.

    iWeb – You know you want to make your own website or blog. iWeb is Apple’s easy web page application. It’s first two versions only allowed you to use it with .Mac (now MobileMe) that’s changed now. iWeb supports FTP which means you can use it to create a web page for just about any web service provider. It comes with some handly drag n drop widgets that allow you to add an RSS feed or countdown or html snippet. IMO it’s worthy of usage by people who don’t have MobileMe accounts. Also they’ve modified it so that you don’t have to publish the whole page for just a few changes which saves time by not sending a bunch of superfluous data. It’s not an earth shaking update but we’re on the right road here now.

    GarageBand- this is a very misunderstood app. Many people feel it’s an app for musicians and if they are not musically inclined they don’t use it. Garage Band is a multifaceted tool. Not only can you play music into it via a midi keyboard or guitar (through an interface) but it comes with a huge collection of Apple Loops. These loops are smart. You can drag these audio building blocks to create tracks that always follow the same musical key and timing “automagically”. I have no piano or guitar but i’m able to use GarageBand to provide music or sound effects for my video and if I had a microphone I’d be able to create audio or video podcasts. The new features in GB are built in training. If you want to learn piano or guitar there are 8 free lessons that you can download. These include video tutorials that allow you to play along and even record yourself. You get to see fingerings and slow the music down to grasp the licks. If these can spur even one hundred people to pick up an instrument it will have been well worth it. You can even download Artist series videos for $5. You want Norah Jones to teach you a little piano? Not a problem. If you’re a guitar player then GB has you grinning from ear to ear. Apple has reworked the guitar simulations and GB can turn your electric guitar into whatever you want via multiple amp simulation and stomp box simulations. I’ve heard from professional musicians that these effects and simulations are superior to Apples Pro music apps. I’m eyeballing an acoustic/electric for some fun. Even if you don’t plan on learning an instrument GB can be an asset to you if you get curious.

    iDVD- Sadly iDVD has not had any changes. Apple is no longer investing in what they feel is a format in the autumn of its existence as a distribution format for computers.

    There are some caveats here. If you have a PowerPC processor there are going to be features that you don’t have full access to. There will be slow downs. iLife 09 really wants an Intel processor and dual cores at that. If you have these requirements and hopefully more than 1GB of RAM I’d say you can get a lot of value out of iLife . Remember it is a consumer oriented package yet you will hear complaints about missing features that are best reserved for higher end packages. Rest assured in knowing that GarageBand files upgrade to Logic and iPhoto information upgrades to Aperture. Apple generally builds bridges to the next step up application.

    Don’t let anyone tell you what’s important to you or what’s worth buying. I’m still learning new things about iLife every day. It is far from mediocre in my opinion.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  2. There is no way that I could give the iLife suite anything but 5 stars. I switched to the mac 1.5 years ago and have been intensely using iLife ’08 for the entire time. The suite of programs is just incredible. I would probably pay upwards of $600 for the suite of programs, and it costs only […]. Crazy.

    The following review covers the new features added in iLife ’09 that weren’t in iLife ’08. There are a lot of new features, and I’ll update my review after I spend time with each one.

    iPhoto ’09

    FACE RECOGNITION: My iPhoto library is relatively small at 14,000 photos, most of which feature friends and family. Because I’m a bit OCD, with iPhoto ’08, I took the time to label all the photos with the names of the people contained in each picture. I did this by writing the person’s name in the “Key Words” field of each photo. For a variety of reasons, my iPhoto library is much more valuable and useful to me when they are properly labeled with people’s names. As such, I was intrigued by the face recognition feature of iPhoto ’09. After allowing iPhoto ’09 to scan my library of photos for faces (which took about 3 hours), I spent a handful of hours training iPhoto to know what everyone’s faces look like. This process (if you know how to do it) is indeed easier than the old way (of me typing in people’s names in the “key words” field under each photo). The facial recognition is pretty good, or maybe very good. The problem I’ve discovered is that facial recognition is never going to be perfect. Indeed some of the best photos have friends or family with their backs turned to the camera, or whatever, so facial recognition doesn’t notice them. If I were to rely solely on the facial recognition in iPhoto ’09, I would fail to properly label all my pictures … I’d miss some really really good pictures. Then, months later, when I’m looking for a photo with my friend Sam, I won’t be able to find certain photos, because it was never properly labeled with his name. Long story short, I won’t be using the facial recognition feature. Instead, I’m going to continue to mark all my photos with names in the “key words” field of each photo. Note also, the facial recognition feature cannot find the face of my parents’ Dalmatian dog.

    PRINTED BOOKS (MAPS FEATURE): the printed books that I’ve created with iPhoto ’08 are amazing. I’ve had several people say, “I’ve gotta get a mac” when they see the books I’ve made. And, a few months ago, Apple announced that the pictures in the printed books are going to be even higher-res (haven’t had a chance to print a book since the announcement), so the books should look even better now. A new feature in iPhoto ’09 is the ability to add custom maps to your books. For instance, I created a book with a map showing a travel line from NYC-Helsinki-Warsaw-Cracow-Budapest-Vienna-Prague. The map looks awesome (see photo uploaded to amazon). Printed books make the perfect gift or coffee table book. (TIP: after you create the map, right-click on the map for additional advanced options (e.g., changing the connecting lines from _curved_ lines to _straight_ lines). Criticism: while the large-scale maps (i.e., big city to big city to big city) look great, zoomed-in maps (i.e., of an individual city or town) have no detail. (See the photo uploaded to amazon of my map of Warsaw, Poland). Hopefully they’ll fix this.

    GEOTAGGING: this feature is so cool and totally belongs within iPhoto. Years from now, when all the cameras have GPS built inside, it is going to be so convenient to have this metadata attached to photos. That being said, I cannot imaging spending the time to label my 14,000 photos that don’t currently have that data. I did buy the “Amod AGL3080 GPS Data Logger,” to carry with me on trips so that I can add GPS data to new pictures I take. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet. Update: I’ve had a chance to manually geotag some pictures (e.g., this batch of photos is “Warsaw, Poland”). It’s pretty easy to tag photos. That being said, there’s really nothing amazing about having geotagged photos. Hopefully future iterations of iLife will make use of having geotagged photos and movies (e.g., smart slide shows or movies that automatically include maps that zoom into pictures, or something).

    GarageBand ’09

    MUSIC LESSONS: this is the most exciting part of iLife ’09 for me. These lessons look _better than real lessons_. Seriously, better than live lessons with a real human. I started the guitar lessons a week ago, and I just love them. I can do the lesson over and over, at my own pace. Apple really slammed this one out of the park. I can’t wait until I get good enough to use one of the $5 artist lessons. Note: there are 9 free introductory piano lessons, and 9 free introductory guitar lessons (the lessons feature an acoustic guitar, but they appear to be useful for learning both acoustic and electric guitar … same principles). Note: Garageband includes a tuner, so that you can tune your guitar via your mac’s microphone. Well, it sucks and is nearly useless. (I’m using my iMac’s built-in microphone). I’m glad I bought this tuner: Korg GA-30 Ultra Compact Guitar and Bass Tuner (it works for both my electric and acoustic guitar).

    I’ll update the review when I’ve had a chance to use the 1-2 dozen new features that are important to me.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  3. I only use iPhoto, not much use for Garageband, iWeb or the other apps. Being able to tag the photos with names and places are cool but it is very slow. There are quite a few steps to tag photos with a place or name.

    The biggest problem is how iPhoto 09 is than iPhoto 08. I have about 10,000 photos and the beachball cursor spins up each time I try to open up an event or go to an album. Random slideshows are a pain to do now – select all the photos, click on the play button, select music, select shuffle photos (for random pictures), wait a while for something to happen. The “use as default” button doesn’t stick either so I have no idea what that should do. Takes quite a long time to stop the slideshow too. I have the a 2009 Macbook which should be able to handle iPhoto.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  4. It’s funny… reading through the reviews of iLife ’09 you see such a wide range of ratings. Well for me it gets a 4.

    I love the new features of iMovie… especially the image stabilization. I think if you take your time to understand how the application works you’ll find it a great editor. My one complaint is there is still no direct export of HD video to YouTube, only standard resolution, so the process of getting HD videos up requires an export and manual upload.

    The new features of iPhoto are great… especially the face recognition. The goodies in iPhoto really impressed me. Until I got ’09, I managed my photos manually into folders etc. on my drive and used different applications for editing/exporting them. Now I’ve moved my entire library (20+ years of photos) into iPhoto confidently. I love the fact that I can get things up to Facebook directly through iPhoto. Great touch!

    By far my favorite feature of the new iWeb is the ability to publish to more than just MobileMe. I use iWeb to edit my son’s website but have my own host and domain. In the past I had to publish to a folder then use a separate FTP app to upload the site. This meant I had to upload the entire thing or manually chose the items that had changed each time. Having iWeb manage the publishing of the site to the FTP server I use is a big time saver! Plus… they’ve finally added the ability to manage multiple sites… no more having to launch manually from the site’s folder. I haven’t played with the new Facebook feature yet but I think it’s something I’ll be trying out with the next update to my son’s site.

    Though I have yet to try it out, the new one-step DVD feature of iDVD sounds pretty cool. I can’t review on it though so that’s all I’m saying.

    All in all I think iLife ’09 is a great update to the previous versions. If you’ve never used iLife… try it now! iLife ’09 is a sure way to get hooked on the apps that apple has given us to make life a little easier to organize and a lot more fun to show off!

    Rating: 4 / 5

  5. I upgraded to iLife09 for the great new features in iPhoto (the new layout, face recognition, GPS location, etc) and I’m very happy with those features. However, the upgrade from iPhoto 5 to iPhoto 09 resulted in lost data and pictures. The iPhoto 09 did not import the picture titles, keywords for many of my photos. I’ve also found that some of my photos are no longer there. Thankfully, I have DVDs of all these photos and “in time” will be able to sort thru all the photos to determine what’s missing, re-enter the missing data and import the missing photos. Checking and re-entering data and photos will be very time consuming.

    This loss of data & photos has left me frustrated. I’m also stunned since I’ve never had problems with any Apple product I’ve bought before. I did not find anything in the upgrade instructions that indicated that lost of data and pictures was possible.
    Rating: 3 / 5

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