5 Things We Love About iLife '11
Unplggd Test Lab

Product: iLife '11
Price: $49.99, Family Pack $79.99
Rating: Strong Recommend

With all of the new things announced in iLife '11 we were eager to try it out. The latest incarnation of the Apple software suite goes beyond new themes in iPhoto and iMovie and delivers much more in the form of new functions and features. In this review we will take a look at 5 of our favorite things about the new iLife suit, and yes, we did make a movie trailer.

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1. iPhoto E-Mail Templates iPhoto '11 really does have a lot to love with the new full screen mode, editing tools, Facebook integration, letterpress cards, and better book options, but one of the things we love the most about the new iPhoto are the email templates. While we do share many photos through Flickr and MobileMe (both of which play nicely with iPhoto) we still have several friends and family members who prefer to receive an email with new pictures. The new email templates provide a neat way to share the photos you send via email and are a welcome alternative to the boring email with 7 attachments. It's incredibly quick and easy to create a collage using this tool and you don't lose the option of sending the original pictures with the email. Judging from the responses we've received to the collages we've sent using this feature, it's a hit and we doubt we will go back to "the old way," of just attaching photos to an email.
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2. Slick New Slideshows
Two of the most impressive slideshows in the new iPhoto are Places and Photo Mobile. We love using Places for displaying our photos with location information (you can add this in manually if your camera does not capture it) and Photo Mobile is great to use when you want to display a small batch of photos in a fun way (there is also of course Holiday Photo Mobile). If you select Places as your slideshow in your album with location information, iPhoto will automatically place them in their appropriate location on the map and will create various layouts depending on the similarity of the photos. As an added perk, since Places uses a map to display the location of where the photos were taken, viewers get a little geography lesson (we've used this to our advantage to help visting friends get better acquainted with the NYC landscape).

Halloween iMovie Trailer Demo from Joelle Alcaidinho on Vimeo.

3. iMovie Movie Trailers
This is going to come as no big surprise, but iMovie Movie Trailers are fun. Creating them is quick and easy and we admit to more than a few laughs during the process of creating the above trailer (we used the Film Noir template with footage we shot with our iPhone 4). With several different templates, befitting various genres, it's easy to find something that works well. In the mood to create a trailer to celebrate your daughter's first camping trip? Try Adventure (which looks like an Indiana Jones trailer)! Need to celebrate a friend's engagement? Look to the Love Story template. No editing knowledge is needed to create these trailers (honestly, knowledge and familiarity with Final Cut hurts more than it helps) you just drop the suggested clips into the story board, edit the titles and you're done.

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4. Audio Editing in iMovie
Trying to improve or change the audio in previous versions of iMovie left much to be desired. In the latest incarnation of iMovie, audio editing is now an actual option (as long as all you wanted to do was adjust the volume). For each clip, iMovie now shows you detailed audio waveforms. To adjust the audio levels of a clip or part of a clip, just drag the volume slider. The waveforms update immediately so you always see what you hear (this helps to explain the amount of resources the new iMovie demands on your system). Other new things that we are excited about in iMovie include the option to export to Vimeo, and the adorable Sports and News themes.

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5. "How Did I Play?"
We do not play the guitar or the piano, so it was difficult for us to properly evaluate several of the new features in GarageBand. However, once we start learning how to play either of these instruments we are sure that the new "How Did I Play?" feature will be a big hit. "How Did I Play?" works by listening to your performance in real time and and providing immediate feedback. We like the colored notes and performance meter and think that piano and guitar students everywhere will also appreciate the progress bar. This new feature gives music lessons a sort of video game vibe, making practice more fun. With better rhythm and note accuracy comes a better score and who doesn't enjoy leveling up? Also new in GarageBand is Flex Time, Groove Matching, Guitar Amps and Effects, and new Basic Lessons.

The Bottom Line (& Who Should Buy):
Although we are not the target iLife consumer (we use Aperture & Final Cut Pro), we had quite a bit of fun reviewing iLife '11 and were pleasantly surprised by how much this software packaged delivered. iLife '11 goes beyond the incredibly bare bones editing and organizing that we were used to in previous versions of iLife and is an awesome product for families looking to create better digital records of their photos and videos, and it's also lots of fun for piano and guitar students. If we say that iLife '09 was a 10, it's safe to say Apple has taken iLife '11 to 11.

Our Ratings:
Strong Recommend*
Recommend
Weak Recommend
Don't Recommend

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf.

(Image: Joelle Alcaidinho and Apple)

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