iLife ’11: Improvements (Almost) All-Round

As far as bundled software goes, iLife packs a serious punch. Apple’s suite of iApps is a serious selling point for OS X, and one of the reasons that many people are compelled to switch to the Mac platform. As with any software suite, there’s a constant battle between maintaining a solid, up-to-date set of applications without succumbing to “feature bloat”.

Today we’re going to be taking a look at some of the new features that Apple has added to iLife 11, along with talking about the two apps that were left out in the cold… Join us after the break to find out more!

iPhoto ’11

One of the key new features demonstrated in iPhoto ’11 was a far more powerful full-screen mode. Where this was only usable for certain functions previously, it now works for everything in iPhoto – you can live completely in full-screen if you decide to.

Full Screen iPhoto

Full Screen iPhoto

Along with this, you’ll notice various smaller interface tweaks and improvements. Everything feels smoother, and more coherent.

Slideshows are vastly improved – this seems to be more than just a set of “new themes” bundled into the app. The “Places” slideshow automatically flips between photos taken in a particular place, and various others make use of immersive 3D technology to provide a great experience.

The “Sharing” system for sending photographs elsewhere has received an overhaul as well. It now lets you know when and where you shared a photo, along with showing responses and comments left by others on social networking sites such as Facebook.

The new “Books” interface is absolutely gorgeous – it’s a 3D worktable! The whole system for creating books is far smarter than previously. It uses your album key photo as the book cover, displays higher rated photos in more prominent positions, and groups those taken in the same place at the same time. A great example of software using information you’ve provided in an intelligent way.

Finally, letterpress style greetings cards are available in addition to books. These are bound to be a top seller, though we’re yet to hear what they are likely to be priced at. This will be a major factor in whether they’re a good option for friends and family.

iMovie ’11

First up, in both iMovie project and event views, you can now see colour coded audio waveforms. They’re adjustable with drag and drop functionality, so you can easily adjust the volume in real-time by interacting with the audio waveform. It’s possible to do this with just certain segments of audio as well, and easily fade in/out levels changes.

Audio Waveform Editing

Audio Waveform Editing

Improved “one-step effects” give you a greater range of options for quickly and easily improving your videos. These include adding slow motion replays, swapping between colour styles, and plenty of other effects that lead to a really professional result.

A new “movie trailer” feature asks you to first fill out all the information about your “cast members”, location, video style, and a few other details. You can pick from fifteen different themes, each with it’s own original soundtrack recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra!

You then select various clips that should be inserted into your movie trailer at different points. You’re assisted by iMovie’s new “people finder”, that can automatically determine how many people are in a shot, and how close/wide the shot angle is.

The resulting effect of this whole process is absolutely amazing, and is a great way to have fun sharing video with friends and family.

Movie Trailers

Movie Trailers

GarageBand ’11

Last but not least, GarageBand has also seen a series of new features added. Groove Matching is a simple way to select one track that will act as the main “rhythm” for a song. This is then applied to all the other tracks, locking everything into the same timing and structure so everyone sounds to be playing perfectly in time! Think of it as “an automatic spell-checker for bad rhythm”.

New FlexTime and Rhythm Matching

New FlexTime and Rhythm Matching

Flex time turns your recorded audio into fluid, flexible being that can easily be manipulated with drag and drop actions. You can extend notes, shorten them, and match up different parts of a song easily.

Finally, if you’re a fan of using GarageBand for learning to play, you’ll be pleased to know that a huge range of new lessons have been added to the software. These are more advanced than ever, and include a scoring system to track how well you do at playing a particular song. It’s like Guitar Hero, but for learning to play an actual real-life instrument!

New, Improved Lessons

New, Improved Lessons

What About iWeb and iDVD?

As far as I can tell, neither iWeb or iDVD have received any updates or feature additions. Both are still bundled as part of the iLife suite, but they weren’t mentioned in Apple’s presentation today, and don’t have any new features cited on the Apple website.

They remain useful tools to have around, but it’s a shame to see that nothing new was added or changed. Many people think that iDVD is becoming something of a redundant tool, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple made the decision to drop this altogether in iLife ’12 next year.

Pricing and Availability

iLife is completely free with every new Mac, and it costs just $49 to upgrade to the latest version. It’s almost impossible to argue with the asking price for this suite of apps, even if two of them haven’t received an update this time around.

iLife 11 is available today – that’s right, you can go buy it now – so there’s no need to wait around for this one! If you think that the new features and functionality will make your life easier, you can pick up a copy from Apple.

What do you think? Are these feature additions enough to warrant a brand new release, or did you expect more from iLife ’11? Let us know in the comments!


  • http://nataliaventre.com Natalia Ventre

    I expected less. The new iPhoto features are pretty amazing, I think that many people will switch to Mac just by looking at that interface (the shelf specially).

    iMovie and Garage Band look certainly look more powerful, I guess we will be seeing better home movies on YouTube soon.

    • Val Camarena

      My thoughts exactly. When I was buying my first computer that’s exactly what I had noticed first on OS X Leopard (10.5), back in early ’08. This is great and all but, what really excites me is the thought of what’s to come if Apple keeps on going the way they are.

  • http://www.gameloid.com David

    It more or less meets my expectations, but I won’t be upgrading. I have Aperture, Final Cut Studio, and Logic Studio, so all of those apps are more or less redundant except iWeb, which I use quite a bit. Without a clear sign that iWeb has been updated I don’t see any reason to buy it. Also, I may “trade in” my MBP for a shiny new MBA at some point in the near future, at which time I will have access to the new features and be able to determine if it’s worth upgrading my other Macs.

  • Brendan

    If they had upgraded the entire iLife suite I would have considered it. But since they didn’t I’ll sit this one out. At least until iDvd gets some love.

  • Mitchell

    Im really disappointed come on apple you didn’t really do anything iv been hanging out for this update for ages.
    Not saying these arnt great apps but they are amazing just not really much improvement on previous releases

  • mark

    Why does iDVD still exist at all? Just get rid of it already and do more to the other apps or come out with something more related to iOS. iDVD is a bloated bastard that is on its way to becoming obsolete.

    • kevin stenson

      I am in the process of having all of my extended family’s old home movies converted to digital files. Everyone has a DVD player or a computer with a dvd drive to watch them in. Using iDVD makes this fun and easily customizable. Almost none of my family has the technology to stream these to their tv’s or the bandwith to download them every month. They don’t have usb thumb drives large enough or SD card systems to hold these. Why use a piece of crap windows converted to mac program to author a dvd. iDVD makes it easy–so does a dvd superdrive in my MacBook. Apple wants to eliminate that as well and has already started to do this. Why can’t apple at least keep iDVD a part of iLife for those who want/need it? I am sure those who need & want it would pay for an upgrade.

  • http://chapuisat.com gregol

    I stopped using iPhoto a long time ago and replaced it by Picasa.
    Is it really so good that I should consider coming back?

    • http://www.mikekey.com Mike Key

      I tried iPhoto after being a Picasa user when I switched to Mac. But this eventually lead me to using Aperture which I feel is even better if you’re a serious amateur photographer. Way cheaper than going all out for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Aperture is like iPhoto Pro.

      So I wonder if they’ll be releasing an update to it soon as well.

  • Jenn

    Probably will not buy by itself. will wait iwork 11 (or whatever) is out. That way I will just pick up the package with ilife, iwork and lion.

  • http://www.ronniegrubaugh.com Ronnie Grubaugh

    Some more Apple Bulls Shit, in which they give very little and charge a lot. Apples greed and theatrical marketing are overshadowing their deceptive objectives. They have turned into Big Bad Blue. They haven’t even got Snow Leopard completely functional with no bugs. I’m tired of being forced into handing over my hard-earned money after a very short period of time because my previous very expensive purchases of their iterations are now rendered obsolete or are soon to be. This whole industry is a scam, where one or two years constitutes antique. They don’t want you to ever get off this ride, the Deceivers. Yes I am a iMac only because they are or were the lesser of the Evils. You know the way, the same way we have been forced to choose our political representation! I am tired of having to choose between Evils. We have lost our way!!!

  • http://designify.ca Michael J. Young

    I didn’t bother updating to iLife ’10, so the fact that ’11 costs even less is an enticing reason to upgrade for me.

  • James

    They disabled the ability to create calendars in iPhoto ’11. Apple says the feature will be added “very soon”, but have not given any kind of time frame. Since I use iPhoto to create calendars all the time (more useful than photo albums) this was a real slap in the face to me. Oh and Apple recommends against downgrading to a previous version as it could corrupt the photo library. Terrific.

  • http://fairheadcreative.com Adam Fairhead

    The upgrades aren’t making their way to my wallet until I see deeper integration with online tools. They look great, and I like where they’re going with things (the full-screen thing seems like a good idea, honestly) but until there’s more integration with online tools, I can’t justify the spend.

  • Paul McLellan

    I just upgraded to snow leopard and ilife 11 yesterday, downloaded some video from a camera into iphoto and the audio and video are out of sync by about 1/2 second. Never had this problem before.

  • DjCooldu

    I like ILife ’11 but I think iDVD should come with the package!

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