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25 Days of Gadgets - Day 24

December 24, 2008 - Dave Hecei
One of the many selling points for the Mac is the software. Every new Mac includes iLife 08. iLife is Apple’s suite of digital media programs and includes: iMovie (video editing), iPhoto (digital photo editing and organizing), iDVD (to create DVD movie discs), iWeb (web page creator), and Garage Band (music creation and audio recording). If you have a new Mac then you already have iLife 08. If you are using an older version then it is well worth upgrading to ’08.

Of course, going to ’08 gets you updates to all of the programs in this suite. There have been a couple major changes to iPhoto, on top of the usual bug fixes and improvements in speed. iPhoto now groups photos taken on the same day into an event. This helps in organizing your digital photos. Skimming is another new feature. When looking at your photos in your library you see a just a thumbnail of one of the photos. When you put the mouse pointer on this thumbnail you can slide it across it to flip through a thumbnail of every photo in that event. It is a very slick way to see all your photos when you have a large library.

Apple has updated all the programs in the suite, but the biggest changes are in iMovie. iMovie ’08 has been completely rewritten from the ground up. This is both good and bad. The good thing is that it is fast, really fast. It is easily the best program out there to quickly create small web videos. Video blogs and Podcasts are hot right now, and Apple has even included a button to upload your latest creation directly to You Tube (Google’s billion dollar web video sharing site). The last version of iMovie could handle HD video, the HDC format. The new iMovie 08 can now handle the newer AVCHD format used with digital camcorders that record to a hard drive or memory card.

When you are done editing your iMovie you will probably want to make it into a DVD. Luckily you just have to export it right to iDVD. This is the one program that hasn’t changed much in iLife ’08. There have been some improvements though. There have been some speed improvements along with improved encoding. Apple has added 10 more DVD themes to them mix giving you around 150 to choose from.

GarageBand is one of the funnest iLife programs. This is were you can record audio, midi performances, or it can even act as a guitar amp. New is Magic GarageBand, a feature that allows you to set up a virtual stage with several instruments. Just choose the type of song you want to create – rock, jazz, blues, etc. – and GarageBand will add in sound loops for you. This allows a non-musician to quickly compose background music for iMovie, iDVD, or maybe a Podcast.

One of the newer parts of iLife is iWeb, a super easy to use Web Site creation tool. iWeb allows you to use professionally designed templates to quickly come up with a great looking web site. Some new features include the ability to drag and drop web bits, like a Google map or You Tube video. You can now even make money with your web site. IWeb has the abiity to work with Google Adsense letting you put text ads on your page (of course you need to register with Google Adsense). To get the most out of iWeb you will want to get a .Mac account, what Apple now calls MobileMe. iWeb can publish right to your MobileMe space with just a single click.


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