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What You Get

A DVD with the whole iLIfe suite. Numerous templates. A good electronic help section. Apple's web site there are also several excellent tutorials.

System Requirements

  • Mac computer with an Intel processor.
  • 1GB of RAM.
  • Approximately 5GB of available disk space.
  • DVD drive required for installation.
  • Display with at least 1280-by-768-pixel resolution.
  • Mac OS X v10.6.3 or later.
  • AVCHD video from supported video cameras requires a Mac with an Intel Core Duo processor or better.
  • Burning DVDs requires an Apple SuperDrive or compatible third-party DVD burner.

iLife 11: iPhoto

By Monte Ferguson

Apple has said that they're taking cues, and coding, used for the iOS and bringing that back to the Mac. It is evident that the engineers working on the iLife suite had that in mind with this release of the iLife suite. Full screen view, a carry over from iOS, makes its debut on the Mac. It could be argued that full-screen mode is the only new feature in iPhoto 11. The rest are features that have been there but have received major quality and functionality enhancements..

Anything you do in iPhoto can now be done in full screen mode with a single click. You do not lose one bit of functionality when you switch from one window mode to the other. If anything you gain more room to work and get bigger previews in full screen mode. A new filmstrip lets you keep track of the pictures both before and after the picture you are currently looking at. You also gain, in full screen mode, an information column that describes which pictures in your iPhoto library have been used in what collections, albums, and other places.

Sharing photos often means sending emails to friends and relatives. What should be a quick process requires coordinating two different programs and several selections. Apple's solution is to compose the email from right within iPhoto itself. No need to export the images out to an email program and then compose the message. There are eight Apple designed themes to choose from, and customize. You can arrange your photos via drag and drop. The themes are dynamic, meaning you can fine tune the settings (like font sizes). You can elect to include high-resolution versions for your recipients to keep. iPhoto optimizes your message so it's never too big to send. iPhoto integrates with built in Address Book so you can send messages to loved ones. iPhoto keeps track of all your email messages with photos, you're free to open a sent message, make changes, and share it with someone new, anytime you want. (A recent update has also restored the old behavior so you can choose to use iPhoto or a preferred email app to send pics with.)

Your Social Life
Social networking sites, especially Facebook, are extremely popular these days. Apple has increasingly made its apps more friendly to these sites. If you post a picture,or a comment, to your Facebook account it will automatically sync up with iPhoto. You can also set your Facebook profile picture directly from within iPhoto. Flickr integration also received a similar amount of improvement. You can post directly to your photostream (instead of being forced to choose or create a photoset), and photos already present in your photostream are also synced back to iPhoto. In both cases you can annotate your pictures you are sharing with Facebook or Flickr and see those updates synchronized to the social networking sites. It is a two way street. Visitors to your Facebook page can identify faces in your posted pics or, post comments, and those updates also synchronize back to your Mac. iPhoto even shows you all of your Facebook, or Flickr, photo albums, including the ones you published using another application. You'll always know which photos you shared (or didn't share) on Facebook,or Flickr, because iPhoto keeps track of that for you.

A lot of attention was given to the printing aspect of iPhoto. In particular Apple made a big deal out of the new design upgrades for books and cards. The composition interface, Apple calls the "carousel", spins to access different components of the design.

New for cards is a template for custom letterpress cards. Letterpress cards are sharp. They are made on high quality mechanical presses to create imprinted paper cards. Apple touts it as the first time traditional printing techniques join up with digital photography. There are 15 beautiful themes that come with matching envelopes. They do look sharp and are something you will not be able to run down to Walgreens and print right out.

Making a photo book has also seen some refinements. First you are presented with a Theme browser, which displays the various themes in the "carousel" along with your selected images. An Autoflow works to place your selected images for you. Your key photo becomes the cover shot. Higher rated images are featured more prominently, i.e. stand alone or larger shots, and photos taken the same day are grouped together. The built in face detection is used to ensure photos of people are cropped and framed properly. You can even elect to have full bleed, i.e. no gaps, two page spreads.

Both book and card projects are all collected in a projects bookshelf interface that can be quickly browsed to pick the one on which you want to work.

Lastly, Apple has improved the Slideshow features. New animated themes like Holiday Mobile, Places, and Reflections give your photos movement. For instance, in the Holiday Mobile theme, images swing in and out as though they were hanging from an actual mobile. Each shot is centered and framed perfectly, thanks to face detection. And the animated themes include their own soundtracks, so your photos and music play together flawlessly. It gives the slideshow a mini movie effect.

iPhoto '11 is not a radical upgrade. However, the features that were updated have been made more powerful. Working in full screen mode is one of those powerful new features. It is very pleasant. It cuts down on a lot of distractions. It also means your perception of color is more consistent. With all of that new found screen real estate Apple added a enhanced Get Info feature. It provides a lot more information about your images. Another feature that received an update is face detection. Not only has its accuracy improved, but it is also being further integrated into the program. For those who spend part of their life on social networking sites, the upgraded FaceBook and Flickr integration will be particularly welcome. It is started to feel more like an integral part of the program rather than a bolted on feature. The integrated email feature in iPhoto is a very handy feature. It saves several tedious steps over the old way of emailing pictures.

The initial launch of iPhoto '11 was marred by a nasty bug. Some early upgraders reported that they lost all of their photos when they upgraded to iPhoto '11. That problem has been fixed but it does highlight the old advice to back up your important files.

Several of the irritating aspects of iPhoto '11 have also been addressed with subsequent updates. Creating a calendar was at first M.I.A. It has been restored. Apple gave with one hand and took away with another, at first, with the email feature in iPhoto '11. While there is no question it is cool to be able to email photos directly from iPhoto, some folks prefer to use their own email program. The ability to use your own email app to email photos from iPhoto did not exist when iPhoto '11 was released. Instead you had to export photos, save them, then later attach them to an email. Thankfully a later update from Apple enabled the option to use an external email app to send photos.

My personal complaint with iPhoto '11 is that it seems sluggish. I get the spinning beach ball more often than I can recall with iPhoto '09. There is no obvious reason for those moments either. I also notice that the social integration feature seems to take a while to complete whatever it does in the background as well.

It would be easy to say that there is not much to this update. Sure, it's lacking in big and showy new capabilities. What it does excel at is an improvement across the board. Almost all of the existing features are more powerful, or work more smoothly. If you were expecting a radically different program you will be disappointed. But if you use some of the features that have received updates you will be quite pleased with the program.

Posted: Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

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