MWSF: Web site tool leads iLife ’06 changes

Apple released iLife ’06 at Macworld Expo on Tuesday. The package includes major updates to iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand, as well as a major addition to the iLife package dubbed iWeb.

“This is the most exciting iLife upgrade ever,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs told the audience during his keynote.

iWeb is a Web-publishing application designed to to easily create professional-looking Web pages populated with online photo albums, blogs and Podcasts. iWeb users can design and publish these Web pages without having to know HTML. An integrated iLife media browser provides direct access to content managed by other iLife applications.

iWeb supports one-click publishing to .Mac accounts, and features a variety of built-in templates designed by Apple as well as support for RSS feeds. A theme-based motif lets users create a uniform site and update it without breaking the site in the process. A new slideshow viewer uses the AJAX technology, making slideshows viewable on any computer running a modern browser.

iPhoto 6 features system performance enhancements as well as several new features. The new maximum limit for the number of photos in a user’s library has been upped to 250,000. Apple also added full-screen photo editing, a compare function that lets you make side-by-side comparisons to as many as eight photos at once, and other photo editing enhancements.

A new Photocasting feature automatically updates Web albums when a user updates them locally in iPhoto. Described by Apple CEO Steve Jobs as “podcasting for photos,” Photocasting makes it possible to share photos over the Internet with a single mouse click. The Photocasting feature also allows users to publish RSS feeds of their albums, so that anyone can subscribe to a published photo album to automatically receive full-quality photos directly within iPhoto 6 or on a PC.

iPhoto 6 also has a new greeting-card creation feature and the ability to create calendars using iPhoto images. New photobook options were announced as well.

The updated version of iMovie features the ability to open more than one project at a time. It also adds animated themes, real-time effects and titles, and new audio tools. iMovie also sports real-time titling effects.

iMovie HD 6 introduces Apple-designed motion themes that let users add Hollywood-style production values to their movies. Trickling down from Apple’s pro video applications, effects can be previewed without waiting thanks to real-time Core Video effects, while cinematic titling gives users flexibility to create text effects. New audio enhancement tools are also included, and iMovie HD 6 users can open multiple projects at once, moving clips among projects. Also, iMovie now supports the ability to export to iPod and create video versions of podcasts.

iDVD 6 allows users to take content shot with the latest HDV and widescreen DV cameras and create custom DVDs with widescreen menus, movies and high resolution slideshows that fill every inch of the newest widescreen TVs. The latest version also features 10 new Apple-designed menu themes in both widescreen (16:9) and standard (4:3) formats. These themes include new autofill drop zones to make customizing menus easier.

Another new feature, Magic iDVD, lets users quickly assemble a DVD by choosing a theme and dragging-and-dropping in photos and movie clips instead of manually assembling a project. iDVD also added support for third-party DVD burners.

The major addition to GarageBand 3 is a podcasting studio feature. The music-composition software includes podcast-ready artwork and more than 200 different royalty-free effects and 100 jingles built-in. You can also enhance podcasts with chapter artwork and URL links. You can use iChat to record interviews for podcasts assembled in GarageBand. The software also adds podcasting audio features such as automatic ducking and speech enhancers. Podcasts created in GarageBand 3 can be posted to .Mac and submitted to iTunes using iWeb.

iLife ’06 is available now for $79; a $99 family pack lets you install the suite on up to five Macs. The new version of iLife also will be bundled on all new Macs, including the Duo Core iMac and MacBook Pro.

Updated at 3:40 ET to include more information on application updates.

Subscribe to the Apple @ Work Newsletter

Comments