[By Nic Lindh on Sunday, 18 January 2004]
Swooped down to the local software pusher today like the big vulture I am and picked up my copy of iLife ‘04. Apple’s official page has all the marketing speak you could shake a memory stick at. The following are some quick impressions.Install: Not a good start. The installer commits the following sacrileges:1. It pops up a “Do you want to be on our mailing list forever?” (aka “Do you want to register?”) question in the middle of the install. I thought everybody had gotten the memo by now that you ask questions in the beginning or end of an install, never during the install. Long installs are for coffee breaks. Returning to the computer after a coffee break to find the install only halfway done because of an inane popup does nobody’s blood pressure any good.
If you have the bad manners of having a previous iLife app running when you start the install, it warns you that one of the apps is running and quits. Yes, quits. How about asking me if I would like to quit the app? Is that so hard? You figured out how to kill and restart the Dock, didn’t you? Granted, a minor gripe, but this is Apple’s flagship suite–things should be smooth.For some reason my machine would hang for minutes at a time after the install. A reboot seems to have exorcised the gremlins. And yes, I should have been a good dork and SSHd into the machine while it was hung and seen what was going on, but as long as it goes away after a reboot…iMovie: Not too much new at first glance, although it does feel a touch more snappy. The new sharing options will also take some of the guesswork out of tweaking your output to different media.iDVD: Ooh, the new templates are yummy. Yummy yummy yummy. The gauges showing how much space on the DVD you’re using should also come in really handy.Being able to work on projects on a non-SuperDrive equipped machine and then move the finished project over for burning should be a boon for a lot of people, especially school districts. Good move.iTunes: Same as before.iPhoto: Yes, yes, yes, it is a lot faster at scrolling through photo albums. Very nice. The integration with .Mac photo sharing is also most welcome. Really nice to not have to use the web interface to set up the template for the album you’re uploading. Apple did drop the ball a bit though by not allowing you to update your menu page directly from inside iPhoto. So after you upload the new album, you still have to go to homepage.mac.com to update the, ahem, home page. Seems like a bit of silly oversight I hope they fix in a point update. Perhaps my internet connection was just having the wind at its back, but uploading the pictures did feel a bit faster.Jobs seemed really excited about the sepia function during the keynote, but, seriously, sepia? Who apart from Jobs and some algorithm guy on the iPhoto team gets excited about the ability to make … well … your pictures look old? _And now they can look more authentically fake old!_GarageBand: I am not a musician, never will be, no matter how great the technology gets. No double-click on this one for me.Summary: iLife ‘04 is a solid upgrade, and the enhanced speed visible in a lot of the suite, as well as the enhanced integration between the apps, are most welcome. Except for the amphetamine kick iPhoto is on, though, it’s more a matter of spit and polish than new must-have features. Apart from GarageBand, of course, which has a lot of people with talents in those areas slobbering all over themselves.Just like with Panther, I’m pretty sure more subtle details will emerge over time and put a smile on my face. Definitely a worthwhile upgrade.