Despite a massive lion lurking in the background of the press invite for today’s event, the big news didn’t have much to do with OS X 10.7 (now officially “Lion”); instead, the big news was about the new MacBook Air pair, the Mac App Store, FaceTime for Mac — and iLife ’11
In fact, iLife almost stole the thunder from the later “one more thing” MacBook Air announcement. And for good reason: There’re some really impressive features included in this round of what is quite possibly the best software suite to ever come standard on a manufacturer’s entire product line.
For starters, iMovie gets a truckload of powerful upgrades — smart, because no doubt there’s a massive uptick in users wanting to edit movies, from all that HD iPhone 4 footage. Robust sound-editing capabilities and easy-to-apply effects are the meat and potatoes of the upgrade; stuff like the cool Movie Trailers feature that creates authentic-looking trailers, and the People Finder that helps find the people in a scene. Probably the best new thing about iLife, and the best version of iMovie since its inception.
Garage Band is really a fairly powerful sound editing tool masquerading as a consumer app, and the new Groove Matching (easily sync timing of all tracks) and Flex Time (elongate or shorten notes) features makes it all the more so. But the coolest new tricks have to be the lessons and “How Did I Play'” features. Not only will Garage Band suck more people into using it by giving them tools to learn basic guitar or piano techniques, but now the app becomes a kind of Guitar Hero, where budding musicians can easily see errors and track improvement over time. Totally makes want to run out and replace my semi-recently stolen acoustic six string.
Probably the least impressive update of the three, but that’s only because the other two are so impressive. iPhoto ’11 is all about sharing the good times: It comes with a totally revamped photo book project manager that looks really slick; a new way to email photos; added Facebook integration; new slide shows, including a striking mobile-themed option; and the ability to turn photos into letterpress cards. Subtle under-the-hood tweaks that make things go faster are also included.
The whole shebang is $49 for a single hardcopy (electronic version coming soon in the Mac App Store?) Steve Jobs is right: it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find better software value than this..