An Overview of iLife '08

By Graham K. Rogers

GarageBand sets the stage
GarageBand Sets the Stage

In August I picked up a copy of the latest iLife 08 a week or so after its release in the United States. It went on the MacBookPro I use with no complaint. It was already installed on the iMac that I looked at a few days later. I also have access to a couple of older G4 machines. Installation on these (a venerable PowerPC and a 1.25GHz eMac) was interrupted because of the specifications for these computers: processors must be 2.0GHz for the Intel machines and 1.9GHz for G5 computers). Apart from iMovie the other components were installed.

In the few days before the disk arrived, I had been following the Apple forums. There had been (and still is) considerable chatter concerning iMovie 08. As a consequence, Apple kept iMovie 06 available, but to save some time I moved this application to the desktop, then moved it back to the Applications folder once iLife 08 was installed. I need not have bothered. I did not read the small print: the specifications of iLife 08 require a new version of iMovie 06 which I downloaded later. It installs into a folder marked iMovie (previous version) and is now version 6.0.4.

The whole suite, then, is iPhoto, which has since been updated to version 7.0.1 and is much improved over version 6; iMovie, also now at 7.0.1; iDVD (7.0) which will work on the older G4s even without a DVD burner as the project can be moved to another disk; iWeb (version 2: for making web sites easily); and an upgraded GarageBand (version 4).

It might be useful if, in a future, upgrade, the version numbers could be consolidated as we are all currently at sixes and sevens, with a two and a four thrown in for good measure.

Joking aside, this is the sort of suite that demonstrates why Mac users are Mac users. The components of iLife are included as bundled software on all new Macs along with the requisite browser, mail program, word processor and utilities: we are able to hit the ground running.

For those who already have Macs, the five-application disk costs 3190 baht in Bangkok (US $79, Sing.$148) and there is a family version for five computers at 3,990 baht.


iPhoto has been considerably revised and mainly to the good, although one or two features have been moved or adjusted. The main change has been the introduction of the "Event". While photographs had been organised in rolls or dates in the past, and one could also create separate albums to group certain of the library's images, the Event contains all the images specific to a specific theme.

Running the mouse over the top image in an event dispays all the images one by one. There is also the option to group the photographs as image files and these are then found in date order.

Editing has been changed slightly, including a reworked Crop tool and some improved adjustment tools. Noise, highlights and shadows, which are also in Aperture, have been added to this panel to improve the final product.


GarageBand has always been one of my favourite parts of iLife. It makes it so easy to build a song with the professiolnally recorded loops that comes as part of the installation (more can be bought), or to record a podcast. It is also reasonably easy to add a soundtrack to a movie: drag the movie in (or select from "Media") and add the sound in a time-line. Those sounds include a large selection of effects, right down to the eerie creaking door.

Most prominent of the new features is "Magic GarageBand" (I sometimes worry about Apple's naming criteria) which allows a user to set up a virtual stage of background music. There are nine genres to chose from (including Jazz, Rock and Blues). When the Audition button is pressed, curtains open to reveal five groups of instruments (guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and melody), each of which can be fine-tuned to a specific. Click on Keyboard for example and we are offered Concert Grand, Club Upright, Electric Piano or Organ.

At centre stage is an empty space marked "My Instrument": you go with what you have. Of course for some, an instrument can be connected via USB, while others may use a violin or flute. When ready, you can either play a snippet or an entire song. Press the play button and your accompanying music plays.

Bring out the new

Of all the components, iMovie has caused the most controversy. It is not an update but a completely new application which makes it easier for those new to Macs to use a click and drag movie assembly approach. Many features of iLife 06, particularly effects, are no longer in this version of iMovie.

Sing out the old

I will be writing reviews of the separate parts of iLife 08 in upcoming columns and will look at those criticisms of iMovie then.

Made on Mac

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