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Blog // Thoughts
August 15, 2007

iLife ’08 And iWork ’08 – Day One

Today I popped out to Designer Group in IFC and picked up the new versions of iLife and iWork (as well as having a second look/play, with the new iMac – a little on that later). Having toyed with the new programmes on and off during the day and dedicated a few focussed hours to […]

Today I popped out to Designer Group in IFC and picked up the new versions of iLife and iWork (as well as having a second look/play, with the new iMac – a little on that later). Having toyed with the new programmes on and off during the day and dedicated a few focussed hours to them tonight, here are some initial observations.

iPhoto – OK, the events mode is a winner! Nearly nine thousand somewhat random photos compressed into three-hundred very manageable event folders. Learning to combine, split and manage the events is very simple. Better yet, they are quick and easy to navigate. Most impressive of all, from a lifehack point of view, I found myself diving right in to hide photos (a nice touch there), reorganise and label them. Simple and neat.

iMovie – Sadly, this one will not run (or install) on my 12inch Powerbook G4. I was half-expecting this, even before I read about. The video card was always a weakness in this model, despite the fact that the little battler runs a 23inch Cinema Display all day long. Oh well.

Garageband – The Magic Garageband feature is a cute, genre-driven, song creation wizard. It’s probably best suited to kids, or people who have never used a DAW (which, to be honest was me only a few years ago). The nice feature is that Magic Garageband creates a simple song, complete with section markers (intro, verse, bridge, etc). A very nice way to start off. The multi-take feature is, quite frankly, better than the way Logic works with multiple takes. Tempo-automation is a huge advance for those who want to add a more human and less predictable touch to their songs. Overall, there are a bunch of aesthetic cues (like the new transport panel) that draw from the recent Soundtrack upgrade and are, I would hope, clues to the new and cleaner look for Logic Pro. This upgrade of Garageband does a nice job of offering somethings for both the novice user and the more skilled musician.

But, if you have an Apple Loops library, remember to take precautions when installing Garageband 4, as it may convert your existing library to the new CEF format, which as yet cannot be read by Logic Pro. I got around this because my Library lives on an external drive, that I ejected before installing the new software.

I’ve yet to take a look at the new version of iWeb or iDVD, though to follow up the comments a few people have made on various fora – you don’t have to loose the themes from previous versions. Just go to custom install and check the box for versions from iDVD1-3.

Keynote – Wow and double wow. Keynote was already a pretty nice piece of kit but the new transition and animation features really are that simple and that impressive. Quite a few people I know are trying to rethink and simplify the way they use slideware and Keynote keeps standing out as a good application to use for a clean approach. The nice surprise for me was the way it automatically used my dual-display set-up to give me the slideshow on the big screen and two nice timers (overall clock and per slide clock) on my powerbook.

Pages – The update here is a little less impressive, but still solid from a workflow perspective. Styles are grouped by type, font and paragraph controls are now included in the toolbar and there are some strong new templates available. An incremental revision that, thankfully, avoids Word-like bloat. That said, I’m currently transitioning to Scrivener as my main writing tool, so I image Pages will only be used for print-preparation.

Numbers – The missing link in the home/project office suit and a very strong first showing. By separating sheets from tables, Numbers manages to do a whole bunch of nice things that are messy in wordprocessors and downright painful in conventional spreadsheet programs. Not really a substitute for something like Excel in terms of deep financial and quantitative analysis, Numbers’ real strength lies in the visual presentation of data. If, like me, you follow the Edward Tufte idea that this is not just an aesthetic issue, but also an ethical one, then this programme demonstrates the way a simple software rethink can have deep repercussions.

Overall I’m both impressed and satisfied with the two new software suites – which is more than what I can say for the new iMac.

OK, I do love the look and feel of the new machine; it is more aesthetically pleasing and practical in person than I had expected. Apple have done an OK job in terms of processor upgrades, display quality and especially hardrives (7,200rpm drives in sizes up to 1TB is a good move). However, I’m not impressed by the video cards on offer or the spec of the top machine. In fact, I’m almost resenting being pushed into a Mac Pro. OK, so I do run a “PRO” application – but I’m hardly that much of a power user. The Mac Pro feels like too much, the iMac feels like redundancy in the making (for me).

But to focus on the positives, I’m glad to have picked up the new iLife and iWork and look forward to putting them to good use.

[tags] Apple, iWork, iLife, Logic Pro, iMac [/tags]

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