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First Look at Apple's new iLife 06
Here's our first look at Apple's new lifestyle software iLife 06. From movie editing, podcasting, blogging, photo management to DVD creation, The iLife suite has been a big hit for Apple, but the 05 version was feeling a little long in the Mac tooth. Between a sluggish past release and no innovation with .Mac, nothing new was happening in a world where things change quickly, with Flickr and Myspace being new innovators.

With iLife 06, Apple hit it out of the ballpark. No more resting on their laurels, Apple decided to dial things up a notch.

First impressions: faster, better, stronger, but a few annoyances exist with iWeb and .Mac (like, in iPhoto, you can no longer add pictures to the existing Homepage that you’ve had the past few years. Or, you can’t upload to a different domain other than the new web.mac.com controlled by iWeb.)

Install: wow, in installing everything, this took forever on a newish iMac G5 with plenty of ram. Watched Lost while it installed. Mr. Echo is cool. Eveything went fine, then pulled up iPhoto.

iPhoto: I use iPhoto on a daily basis, so it was very important to me that this application functioned at Steve Jobs promised during the keynote. I have a Nikon D70 – and the past year has been torture using iPhoto. Show, impossible to scroll, no response, took about a minute to actually shut down. I was seriously considering Aperture or Adobe’s new Lightroom (the beta is amazing) – but this iLife ‘06 release came just in time. Quick and sharp – actually closes down without a problem. Bravo to everyone at Apple on reengineering an innovative yet aging app. So get iLife 06 if you are a digital photo junkie like me – this alone is worth $79.

However, when I select my photos to upload to my existing pages on homepage.mac.com – and iWeb was then launched, I realized an odd thing. There is no integration to add these pages to your existing .Mac homepage. Sadly, pages are added to web.mac.com. As I have many deep pages at Homepage – I was a bit bummed. I’m sure that to innovate – Apple needed to leave the code behind – but I wish the .Mac marriage between Homepage. and Web was improved. And, I’d love to FTP these pages to another domain that isn’t on .Mac…Sigh.

So the dilemma, and I think this is what Apple is encouraging, leave your old pages behind and start anew….(and if you don’t have a .Mac account, you probably will open one now that you have iWeb)….Which leads me into iWeb…

iWeb: All across the board, this is an easy to use, quick application to editing, creating fantastic looking web pages for your friends and family. If you have no HTML experience, you will impress all your techhead buddies. The templates are so unFrontpage, they’re Apple cool. With RSS feeds and other bells and whistles, its tech sexy but Apple easy.

In using iPhoto with iWeb, the most innovative feature to impress your friends will be Slideshows. I know, I know, slideshows, who cares? But wow, these Ajax versions are crazydelicious. Create one now, fool. I’m not sure if Photocasting will take off with grampas and grammas, but good luck, Apple!

Podcasting with GarageBand: I’m not into Garageband, but I wanted to take Podcasting for a spin. Life everything else in this new iLife 06 release, audio podcasting is a snap. Really, it’s that easy. I created a 20 second podcast and it was uploaded to my new .Mac iWeb managed page in less than a minute. It’s that easy – and will really help to continue to drive the Podcasting craze. Oh yeah, and there’s also an option to publish to the iTunes music store. Sweet.

iMovie and iDVD: The interface looks improved, and the fact that you can open many imovie projects at once is nice, but this and iDVD seems to be as sluggish as the previous versions. I didn’t notice any speed improvements – and iMovie really was spinning when I opened 3 movie projects. Likewise with iDVD, my iMac was working overtime, and I really wasn’t doing anything then looking at themes when it crashed on me.

The themes in iMovie are a bit counterintuitive to use – not to mention confusing. However, with use – I think they’ll be a nice addition to making WOW family videos. iDVD has more support for Widescreen TVs which is nice. More to come on creating videos with iDVD and iMovie.

My recommendation: buy it now. Really, especially if you’re hanging onto iLife for 04 or 05. Get it for iPhoto alone.

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