Logo Rob Buckley – Freelance Journalist and Editor

Share and Share iLife ‘06

Share and Share iLife ‘06

If you want to share your movies, music and photos with someone, iLife 06 is now the best way to do it.

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Would using a Mac be half as much as fun if we didn’t have iLife to organise our digital lifestyles? Of course it wouldn’t. Apple’s little black bag of goodies has justifiably wowed the crowds for years now, impressing with its simplicity and elegance. But as with everything new, we soon get used to it and take it for granted. Time moves on, technology improves, as do our own demands. We just want more.

That’s why every year Apple upgrades iLife, adding new features and sometimes completely new programs to keep us constantly at the cutting edge and to make our iLives even easier to manage.

iLife 06 brings a new program, a web design application called iWeb, to the now familiar iLife suite, a whole stack of new features and the familiar yearly question: is the latest version of iLife worth spending £55 on, or is the version you’re using good enough?

To help you answer that, we at iCreate have been putting iLife 06 through its paces and we are happy to report that the answer is an unequivocal yes. Carry on reading to find out what’s good, what’s bad, what’s indifferent and more in the latest version of iLife.

What’s the point, Apple?
First, a warning. iLife’s getting bigger and better with every passing year. You know how we can tell that? This year, iLife comes on a dual-layer DVD since the installer weighs in at an astonishing 6GB and requires 10GB of free disk space. If you have a laptop or an older Mac, pay careful attention to how much free space you have before you buy iLife 06 or you’re going to be stuck with a load of software you can’t use.

Even using the installer options to trim the software won’t help you that much, unless you plan on dispensing with GarageBand, iDVD and maybe iMovie and iWeb as well. There are (secret) ways to install parts on an external disk drive if you have one, but nine times out of ten, that’s where it all starts to go pear-shaped, so try to avoid this kind of sneakiness.

There are other, more stringent requirements you’ll have to deal with, too. You’ll need at least a 733MHz G4 (sorry G3 owners), OS X 10.3.9 (sorry Jaguar owners) and a DVD drive (sorry old iBook users). iLife compatibility is rapidly becoming an elite club.

But assuming you get passed the bouncers, what will you find? First off, iTunes. Assuming you have a broadband connection, you’ll almost certainly have this already, so we won’t dwell on it too long. But if you’re on narrowband and haven’t updated since iLife 05, there have been all sorts of improvements, such as support for podcasts and videos. This will makes it welcome for some, but staggeringly superfluous for everyone else. At best, it’s a way for Apple to get iTunes updates out to the narrowband world while pretending iLife is bigger than in actually is.

The first program of iLife 06 proper is iPhoto 6. This is by far the most popular of all the iLife programs so it seems fitting that it’s the one with the most improvements. While it’s easy to concentrate on new features, we’d first like to mention than iPhoto 6 has a slightly more polished interface, a stonking great increase in the maximum number of photos allowed (250,000) and is considerably speedier than iPhoto 5. These make it slightly nicer to use, although they probably don’t justify £55 by themselves.

Top-billing of the new iPhoto features is ‘photocasting’. At heart, it’s a way to let other iPhoto users include your albums in their library. For each album you want to share, you publish a photocast ‘feed’ on .Mac and they subscribe to it. They can then download your photos from the feed. When you update it, their albums automatically change and download any new photos.

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